Friday, April 29, 2011

A visit to the Schweizerhaus

The easiest way to get to the Prater park in Vienna is by taking the U-Bahn to the Praterstern metro station. The park is next to the station, but first you must walk through the fun fair.

There are several eateries and restaurants in the Prater park. One of them is the traditional Schweizerhaus, which has a large beer garden. The menu has an extensive selection of Austrian courses, and there are several beers available on tap.

The Czech Budvar golden lager is the main beer at Schweizerhaus, but you can also get Budvar's dark lager or a G'mischtes where you get a mix of both lagers. Also available as draught beers are Grieskirchner Dunkles, Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier, Rotes Zwickl and the alcohol free Clausthaler.

I have had my share of Budvar on my visits to the Czech Republic, so I started with a Rotes Zwickl after sitting down at the beer garden. This brownish beer from the Ottakringer brewery is a naturtrüb beer. In the glass it had very little carbonation and a medium to small sized head. The nose had malts and a touch of yeast. In the mouth malts and caramel had a dance together with a touch of sourness before a bready finish with some yeast. A lovely beer!

In retrospect I should have taken another Rotes Zwickl or tried the Grieskirchner Dunkles. Instead I went for a beer I know very well, Paulaner's wheat beer. For some reason I had a craving for a weizen, and I knew that I would get a good one.

Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier has a lot of banana in the nose, and the taste is dominated by banana, bread and a touch of spices before a sweet and lasting finish with more banana. The beer is lovely, and it is one of my favourites. It is also better as a draught beer than from bottles, so it was pure bliss. The Paulaner brewery knows how to make an excellent wheat beer.

I left Schweizerhaus knowing it was a great experience being there. The beer was good, the weather was good and the beer garden was good. Actually, life and Vienna was good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A beer at the Prater

Vienna's Prater park is a great place for a walk while visiting the Austrian capital. It is also a place for amusements. The Wurstelprater amusement park is part of the Prater park, and this is a nice fun fair with many rides. The most famous one is the big Ferris wheel called the Wiener Riesenrad.

While walking around the amusement park it was time for a beer. I found a sausage stand near the Riesenrad and ordered a half litre of draught beer. The sausage stand was more than just a sausage stand. It was the second Bitzinger Würstelstand in Vienna. The other Bitzinger sausage stand is famous among Austrians. It is placed next to the opera house in Vienna, and it is together with the nearby Augustinerkeller and the Prater sausage stand the only places to buy Opernbräu beers.

The Opernbräu helles was a nearly brownish lager with some carbonation and a slightly more than medium sized head. The nose was quite malty, while the beer had a bready taste with a touch of butter and grains before a partly bitter finish. I liked it, and it was nice to enjoy the beer outdoors in the warm Spring weather.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A beery beer

Quite near the Längenfeldgasse metro station in Vienna you can find the Puntigamer-Stüberl. This little pub sells beer from the Puntigamer brewery in Graz. That was a new brewery to me, so I went inside the pub to taste some Puntigamer draught beer.

On tap Puntigamer Panther was available. I ordered a half litre of the beer and sat down to have a closer look at it. In the glass the Puntigamer beer was a pale lager. There was some carbonation and a medium sized head. The aromas from the beer were of malts and grass. In the mouth this beer had a malty touch with some hops before a lasting, bitter finish.

Puntigamer Panther was another decent Austrian pale lager. The brewery calls it "das bierige Bier", which in English means "the beery beer". There are many beers like it all over Europe, but Puntigamer is not beerier than other beers. This beer will not disappoint as a session beers, but there are better alternatives if you want a pale lager.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The better beer?

More or less next to the Philadelphiabrücke metro station and Wien-Meidling railway station in Vienna, you can find the pub Gösser-Stüberl. The pub is named after the Gösser brewery, which is one of Austria's largest breweries. Gösser's slogan is pure marketing as it goes like this: Gut, besser, Gösser. In English this can be translated into: Good, better, Gösser.

The Gösser-Stüberl looks like a typical local pub with ordinary Austrians drinking their beer and smoking their cigarettes. The beer menu consists of a few beers, and one of them is the Gösser helles, which is available as a draught beer.

In the glass Gösser helles is a golden lager with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I feel nearly nothing except for a touch of grass. In the mouth there is some malts and grass before a watery finish with a touch of hoppy bitterness.

Gösser helles is an decent lager beer that can not live up to the brewery's slogan. There are so many other lagers that taste better than this, but I will not decline another glass if somebody offers me it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A taste of Austria

It is time to enter Vienna for the first time. The capital of Austria is a beautiful city, and the monumental architecture of Vienna is interesting to behold. Vienna is easy to reach. Many airline companies have flights to the Austrian capital, and Vienna is one of the Central European hubs in the railway system. It is easy to get from Vienna to more or less any major Central European city by train.

Beerwise Austria seems like a country of pale lagers. The helles (pale lager beer) is sold everywhere, and at most bars this is what you will get if you order a beer.

The Austrian macro breweries seem to have most of the beer shelves in the supermarkets in Vienna together with some international brands. Breweries like Ottakringer, Stiegl, Zipfer, Schwechater and Wieselburger are new names to me, and it will be interesting to take a look at (and taste!) these beers.

First out is Stiegl bier from Mozart's home city Salzburg. This is a pale lager with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose there is some malts and a touch of sweetness. In the mouth grains and sweetness dance along before a partly sweet finish. Normally I am not a fan of sweet pale lagers, but this one was nice.

Ottakringer is a Viennese brewery. The Ottakringer helles is a very pale lager with some carbonation and a medium sized head. I feel fruit and grains in the nose. In the mouth this beer has a fruity feeling before a semibitter finish. It is a lovely beer that I believe to be an excellent thirst quencher in Summer.

Kaiser Fasstyp is another pale lager. There is some carbonation and a medium sized head. The nose has malts and sweetness. In the mouth I feel sweetness before a finish where grapes take the lead. In addition to this the beer has a metallic taste that probably is from the can. Kaiser is a boring beer that is not to be recommended.

But Vienna can be recommended. The city has a fantastic system of trams, buses, trains and metro lines that makes it easy to get from one part of the town to another. And there are also some interesting beer sites to be found in the Austrian capital.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Springtime with Ægir

It is Easter, and as the only brewery with national distribution in Norway, Ægir has made an Easter beer. Last year Ægir's Påskesol (Easter Sun) was a very good lager beer brewed at Ægir. This year Påskesol is brewed for Ægir by a brewery in Belgium.

I searched for Påskesol on tap at various bars in Bergen, but the beer was only available in bottles. But at one bar, Naboen, they had another interesting Ægir beer on tap: Ægir Hefeweizen.

I had a go at this wheat beer. In the glass it was a cloudy beer with some carbonation and a little head. I felt bread, grains and some banana in the nose. In the mouth there was biscuit, bread and banana, while the finish had banana and grains. This was a lovely wheat beer, and I hope it will soon be available in bottles.

What about the Easter beer then? Well, I have tried it several times at home in bottles. It is a nice lager, but nowhere as good as last year's version. In the nose I felt malts and some citrus, while the mouth was dominated by some fruits and a touch of yeast before a sour finish. Last year an orange taste was present. This year the orange has been toned down. Unfortunately, because this very good beer could have been an excellent one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Party time at U Slovanské Lípy

The first times I visited U Slovanské Lípy in Prague, it was an ordinary and somewhat boring pub with extraordinary beers. The Kout na Šumavě beers are excellent, and it is easy sitting down enjoying them for a long time. On my last visit to U Slovanské Lípy the pub was more or less a party place. Loud music and young guests in party mood felt typical of U Slovanské Lípy this time around instead of ordinary Czechs enjoying their beer in a more quiet environment.

The current drinks menu at U Slovanské Lípy.

No problem for me. The beers from Kout na Šumavě are so good that I believe I can drink them with as good as any noise around me. This time I concentrated on the unfiltered 12° Kout na Šumavě lager. It has a cloudy look, but it is pure beer enjoyment with yeast and fruit notes combined with a touch of grains. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

The party continued as I went up the hill to the Seifertova street and ended up at Poja hoping to get a Budweiser Burgerbräu as a nightcap. No such thing this time around, as the restaurant has changed owners and beer suppliers. Poja now sells Ježek and Merlin draught beers. I had a half litre of 11° Ježek pale lager. It was a good beer, but compared to the Kout na Šumavě beers this was boring. But I feel the Ježek is a better beer than Budweiser Burgerbräu so it was no loss.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Double Rychtář

Back at Dejvická metro station in Prague, it was time to check out both the Rychtář beers available at the herna bar. The bar opens at 10AM, and I was one of the first guests. None of them had started smoking for the day, so it was a pleasant experience early in the day.

Rychtář's 12° golden lager (right) is a beer that I have tasted earlier at the Dejvická herna bar. It is a pleasant beer grains and malt in the nose and a malty taste before a finish with grapes and hops. Rychtář's 14° golden lager (left) is a stronger beer with a touch of white wine feeling in the mouth. It is a nice and somewhat strong lager with a fuller body, but I prefer the 12° lager. It is both better in taste and much more sessionable.

The Dejvická herna bar is a nice place for a last or first beer in Prague. Both Rychtář beers available are good, but the 12° golden lager is a gem that most travellers to Prague never get to try as they pass this herna bar in a hurry on their way to the airport or the city centre. My recommendation is to use the time at Dejvická to cool down and enjoy a Rychtář beer before heading into town or the airport.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Krušovice troika

The Krušovice brewery is one of the largest in the Czech Republic. The Heineken owned brewery has several beers in its line-up, and they are easy to find in pubs and bars in and around Prague. The Krušovice beers have a reputation of being bland compared to other Czech beers, so it was time to take a closer look at some of them in this blog to see if the reputation is correct.

First out is Krušovice Mušketýr from can. Krušovice Mušketýr is a pale lager with some carbonation and nearly no head. I feel grains in the nose, and the beer feels sweet. In the mouth there is malt and grapes. The beer feels a little watery, and in all Krušovice Mušketýr is a boring beer.

While Krušovice Mušketýr has 4.5% alcohol, Krušovice Imperial has 5% alcohol. This is another pale lager, and in the glass there is some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I feel malt, grass and some sweetness. The beer is watery. I have a malty taste before a partly hoppy, bitter finish. Krušovice Imperial is an average Czech lager, and I feel that Krušovice Mušketýr is the better of these two beers.

Krušovice Černe is a dark lager with 3.8% alcohol. This is a nearly black beer with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose coffee dominates, and the taste is a combination of more coffee, a touch of grass and some malts. The beer has a watery finish before a touch of cold coffee. Krušovice Černe is a nice and refreshing beer, and it is the best of these three beers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The new pub guide to Prague

Finally it is available. Pivní Filosof has been working for some time now on his pub guide to Prague. The beer philosopher has in my opinion one of the best beer blogs around, and it has been interesting following his posts on Czech beers, pubs and food. Now you can read his thoughts about Czech beers and pubs in Prague in the book "Prague - A Pisshead's Pub Guide".

Pivní Filosof's book can be ordered through at this link, and right now I am waiting for my copy. I am sure that it will be a good read for both myself and other visitors to the Czech capital. I was lucky to read a draft of one of the chapters last Summer, and it was both enjoyable and informative. The guide is a collection of various pub crawls through Prague, and the chapter I read was an excellent piece on pubs near Wenceslas Square with accurate information about both beers and tap rooms.

Prague is a great place for beer tourists. Pivní Filosof's book will probably make a visit to the town even more enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The wrong Svijany beer

Near Pivovarský klub in Křižíkova street in Prague you can find Florenc Hotel. I had noticed the hotel before, but this time I saw that the ground floor restaurant advertised that they had Svijany beer. That was a good reason to look inside, as the Svijany brewery brews several nice beers.

I am very fond of the 12° golden lager Svijanský Rytíř, and Svijany's yeast beer Kvasničák is another favourite. Unfortunately none of these were available from the three taps. You could only drink Svijanský Máz, which is a 11° golden lager and the Czech Kofola cola. Svijanský Máz is a very good beer, but I was hoping for Svijanský Rytíř, which is a beer I so far only have been drinking from bottles.

In the glass Svijanský Máz looked lovely with its golden colour and a nice and large white foam head. There was nearly no carbonation. In the nose there was some malts, while the taste was dominated by an accentuated sweetness combined with a touch of hops and some grains. I liked Svijanský Máz also this time around, but Svijanský Máz is not a reason to seek out a Svijany pub when for instance Svijanský Rytíř is a much better beer.

The restaurant at Florenc Hotel was a nice place to spend an hour or so for lunch and beer. The service was very good, and especially the waitress did an excellent job by explaining in English what was on the menu. I especially liked the restaurant's mushroom soup a lot and it is to be recommended.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pivovarský Klub once again

Pivovarský Klub was visited on my recent visit to Prague. A beautiful April day I once again took the metro to Florenc before walking the last metres to Pivovarský klub in Křižíkova street. The mission was to check out some of the beers on tap and especially to see if the house beer Štěpán still was not in its best shape.

Pivovarský Klub is a special place for beer lovers. With loads of bottled beers for sale and six draught beers there is always something to choose from. I went for a small glass of Štěpán first. Once again it was a disappointment. The interesting and good tasting beer from last Spring was still as boring as it was on my visit in December. There were nearly no taste nor aromas from it.

On the five other taps I could choose between Herold Weizen, Telčský Zachariáš 14° pale lager, Opat's olive beer, Strakonický Dudák dark lager and another house beer: Jarni Special 14° Märzen.

I chose the dark lager. Strakonický Dudák was nearly black with a nose of coffee. In the mouth it was sweet, and it nearly felt like a malzbier with some coffee in the finish. I liked it, but I feel there are many better dark lagers in the Czech Republic than this. After half a glass I was bored of the beer.

Perhaps I chose the wrong beers from the Pivovarský Klub this time? I felt a little bit disappointed from the visit. Perhaps I should rather have gone to Zlý Časy, U Prince Miroslava or Prague Beer Museum? These pubs have a better selection in draught beers at the moment and could be more interesting for a beer visitor to Prague. But I know will be back to Pivovarský Klub. The excellent service makes up for the beers this time around.