Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

As 2012 is becoming history, I present my favourites from 2012. It has been a good beer year for me, but there have been fewer updates on this blog compared to 2011. I have been drinking beer during 2012 in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic. As always my best of 2012 list is highly subjective, and I have only included beers I have been drinking this year.

Best pale lager
Úněticke 12° golden lager

I was lucky to check out Úněticke 12° golden lager for the first time on a warm Summer day. It was a really lovely beer. This year I have not tasted the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, so my number 2 lager this year is the Kout na Šumave 12° golden lager. Also worth to be mentioned are Brooklyn Lager, Kout na Šumave 10° golden lager and the 11° Zlatý Kun svetlý ležák from the Berounský Medved brewery.

Best dark lager
Budvar Černý

This dark lager from Budvar in the Czech Republic is a fantastic beer, and it is my winner this year as well. Runners up in 2011 are Kout na Šumave's dark lager and Märkischer Landmann.

Best wheat beer
Primátor Weizen

Primátor Weizen is defending its winner spot this year as well. Runners up are Paulaner Hefeweizen, Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen and Velen from the Czech Cerná Hora brewery.

Best ale
Kinn Vestkyst IPA

The little Norwegian craft brewery Kinn produces the Vestkyst IPA, and it is my favourite ale also in 2012. Other favourites from 2012 are Lervig Rye IPA, Nøgne Ø's 100, Ægir IPA and Haandbryggeriet's Pale Ale.

Best Norwegian bar
Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri (Oslo)

This was a winner this year as well. Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri brewpub is the best beer place in Norway with a combination of beers brewed on-site and a good selection of other draught beers. Runners-up in 2012 are Grünerløkka Brygghus in Oslo, Henrik and Naboen in Bergen and Den gode nabo in Trondheim.

Best beer blog
Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

It is the fourth time that I give Ronald Pattinson's blog the honour of being the best that I read. His blog is more or less an encyclopedia of beer knowledge. Other good reads are Pivní Filosof, Fuggled, The Beer Nut and Boak & Bailey. Evan Rail is back on track with his great Beer Culture blog, but unfortunately it is not updated that often. 

Best Norwegian beer blog
Det står en-og-førti øl

Also this year Anders Christensen's blog is a good read in Norwegian. Other favourites are Kjempetorskens ølblogg and Det gyldne øls kommandørskap.

Best beer experience in 2012
A lovely evening in Prague visiting the Strahov monastery during an international conference. We had great food and fabulous beers brewed on-site, and after several formal days the whole dinner experience made people social and we all had a great time until closing time. And then some of us had night caps at a herna bar - just to keep up the social fun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I want to wish all of you readers a very Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately 2012 has been a year with fewer updates for Beer Sagas. I have not had the time to maintain this blog the way I have done earlier years. For 2013 I can promise that the blog will be continued, but I can not say if it will be updated more than a few times a month. The focus of Beer Sagas will be the same as today, but with less time to do updates there will be a higher percentage of posts about travels than about Norwegian beers.

If you are interested in the Norwegian beer scene, you might be interested in checking out the new webpage Ølportalen. As of 1 January 2013 some Norwegian beer bloggers will use that website to publish news about Norwegian beers, breweries and bars. They aim to have the best coverage of beers in Norway. I wish them the best of luck!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Beware of airport prices

When visiting the Czech Republic you will find out that beer prices vary from the higher prices paid at cafes and restaurants in the tourist areas in the city centre of Prague compared to for instance hospodas in the Žižkov area. A good rule these days is that pubs selling pints of beer at 40 CZK or lower are worth visiting. Are the prices higher, the restaurant is probably either a rip-off or a place catering for the gastronimical elite.

If you get to Prague airport, you normally pay nearly 150 CZK for a half litre of beer at the restaurants and pubs. Compared to the Scandinavian countries, these are affordable prices. But it feels strange that the restaurants at Prague airport charge so much more for beers compared to ordinary pubs and taprooms in the city.

As I was waiting for my flight home, I decided to have some beer. At an earlier visit to the airport, the Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant was out of Master as a draught beer. This time the beer was available from tap. I decided to check it out.

Master Černý was a nearly black beer with a large head and nearly no carbonation. It had aromas of dark chocolate and a bit of sweetness. In the mouth I felt dark chocolate and some coffee before a partly sweet finish. I liked it, and felt that it might be a good Winter beer.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bliss at Nota Bene

If you are interested in beer, then a sign telling you that a restaurant is a beerpoint should be a good thing. I had time for a beer while being close to the I. P. Pavlova metro in Prague. I knew a new restaurant called Nota Bene was nearby in Micovcova street and decided to stop by for a short visit.

Inside, the restaurant was bright with a welcoming choice of furniture, but it was a bit crowded with a lot of guests. I therefore decided to stand at the bar trying out a pale lager from the Úněticke brewery.

This is one of the times that I absolutely should have kept my tasting notes. This was an extremely good lager, and I enjoyed every drop of it.

There was no time to check out the other beer offers at Nota Bene. They had draught beers from six small and interesting Czech breweries including Kocour and Strahov monastery. I just have to go back some time. I liked it there!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Budvar's best

I usually drink my share of Budvar's kvasnicove while visiting the Budvarka restaurant near the Dejvicka metro in Prague. This is one of the few places in Prague selling this special beer. At this visit, I found the Budvar Kroužkovaný Ležák at the Pod Slavínem restaurant near the Albertov tram stop.

I chose to sit down outdoors and ordered a half litre of this golden beer. As usual I was in for a treat. This fabulous hoppy beer with tones of grass was lovely. And guess what? There had to be another. And also another one! There was no food this time around, but there will be at a later visit. Pod Slavínem serves according to expats good food at great prices.

Budvar Kroužkovaný Ležák is not available in bottles, and you can only drink it as a draught beer at selected bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic. If you find it, check it out!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A special visit

It was a warm day in Prague. I was walking around the Žižkov neighbourhood and thought that it was time for a beer. I chose to sit down outside a waterhole I had not visited for years, U Pižďucha in Blahnikova street.

U Pižďucha is first of all a little taproom. It is mentioned in both Evan Rail's and Pivní Filosof's beer guides to Prague. I took out the books to see where I wanted to go next, and while doing it I took this picture for fun:

As you readers can see, both the prices and the beer selection have changed at U Pižďucha since Evan Rail released his "Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic" in 2007. But the book is still a great resource on both breweries and pubs in the Czech lands.

While enjoying an excellent Svijany Maz, I showed the barman Pivní Filosof's informative and enjoyable book, "Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide". He leafed through it and stoppet at the pages where U Pižďucha was mentioned. He then had a laugh and took the book into the taproom. Less than a minute later a man was presented to me as a U Pižďucha stamgast. He pointed at a picture in the book and then at himself. Sure thing, he was made immortal by Pivní Filosof!

Suddenly there were free rounds of Fernet Stock for me and the other guests. I also bought a round, and it was an enjoyable moment where we tried to communicate in bad Czenglish. But body language worked, and also the occacional use of Czech words and phrases like "pivo", "dobrý" and "ještě jedno". It is strange, but often the best times in our lives involves chance meetings. And sometimes beer as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two good beer places

I do not write beer notes every time I am going somewhere. That is always good, because some times it takes away something from both the beer and the restaurant experience.

In this post I will write about two places in Prague that I have visited several times, but where I have never bothered to do any beer notes. Záležitost is a nice restaurant near the Biskupcova tram stop. It is based in the cellar, and it also has a lovely beer garden. Outside, this looks like just another Staropramen place, but if you go inside you see that the owners have an interesting beer selection.

Záležitost offers draught beers from several Czech breweries. Pilsner Urquell is of course available, but you can also drink beers from Chotěboř, Rychtář and Lobkowicz breweries from tap. The non-alcoholic beer from Lobkowicz is a treat, by the way, and is worth checking out.

The menu at Záležitost mostly consists of good, Czech courses at good prices. I have been very satisfied with both food and drinks at this restaurant.

Not far from Wenceslas Square you will find Jama The Hollow in the V Jámě street. This looks like a place for expats and tourists, and it also has a party feel over it. Some times that is what you want during a pub crawl, and then Jama The Hollow is a place to check out.

At the same time it might be the only place you visit during that pub crawl. With 12 various beers on tap, there is always something interesting to drink. Beers are mostly from smaller Czech breweries like Lobkowicz, Rychtář, Černá Hora, Ježek, Kocour and Klášter. I have not tried the food at Jama, but it has been recommended to me by locals.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Prague again

I have spent some time in Prague this year, and there are of course still great beers to be had in the Czech capital. Among others, I have several times been to Potrefená Husa at the main railway station, Hlavní Nádraží. This is a restaurant chain owned by the Staropramen brewery, and the place at the railway station is a nice place to sit down for a while. There is free wifi at the restaurant, and there is a screen showing departure times for trains.

Most of the Staropramen line-up is available, but at my visits to Potrefena Husa I preferred drinking the Staropramen Nefiltrovaný. This was a cloudy beer with a large head and barely carbonation. In the nose I felt yeast and sweetness, while the beer tasted of hops, apples and strawberries. This was an enjoyable beer, and it is one of the best from this Prague based brewery.