Monday, November 28, 2022

A beer a day in November

I neither know nor care what Advent is. It's not hockey. It's not beer...or is it?

I picked up this beauty at a nearby Costco store. Twenty-four half-liters of German beers for $75, not bad. Each one is conveniently numbered so you can pull out a beer a day.

Best of all, I had never had any of them before. In fact, I hadn't even heard of a lot of the breweries.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Oktober Reise, Day 8: The last day

Yesterday: Prague Brewpubs 

Sunday, October 9. I know I said it was a ten-day trip, and it was if you count the days spent in the air.

There was some shopping to get out of the way before the last couple brewery visits, so we had a breakfast beer to set the tone. We picked up this bottle at U Medvídků yesterday. Their X-Beer 33 claims to be one of the strongest beers in the world, and that may well have been true some years ago, but at 12.5% abv it doesn't stand out quite so much these days. It's a good beer though, richly malty and sweet but not too sweet. The neck label says "Never drink it alone!"

We checked out of the apartment and walked to the nearby Karlova shopping street. We wandered around there for a while, and I got a trdelnik for breakfast at Sweet Dreams. It's like a churro, only much bigger and fluffier. (Wikipedia calls it "a kind of spit cake", which sounds worse than it is.)

Paris and I sat on the steps of the Katedrála sv. Klimenta and ate our trdelnik, and I noticed this souvenir shop across the street at Karlova 14. All those things on display are matryoshka dolls, painted in the colors of sports teams.

The guy said the artist had made 75 sets, and I bought the next-to-last one, so now these matryosharks are proudly displayed in our Hockey Room.

By now, we'd killed enough time so that the day's first brewery would be open, so we took a cab up to Loď Pivovar. Opened in 2017, this is a brewery and restaurant on a boat in the Vltava River.

They brew good beer here. The Legie 10° is an excellent Pilsner, smooth and creamy and bready and nicely bitter. The Republika 12° is a slightly heaver version that's good, but doesn't quite have the Legie's balance. The Remorkér 12° is an unusual fresh-hop Pilsner, with lots of green hop flavor and nice bitterness. And the Bohemia 12° is a single-hop Pilsner, brewed only with Saaz hops.

They also pour a guest beer. Today's is from the gypsy brewer Crazy Clown Beer, and it's a wild one. Oh My F*** Cthulhu is billed as a "Gin & Gose", and it's not something I would normally be interested in. But it was actually pretty tasty, with lots of salt balanced by the malt and a bit of coriander and lemon.

A bit of lunch at Loď set us up for the ten-minute walk to Pivovarská Nalévárna v Soukenické. We thought it was a brewery, but it's really a taproom for Pivovar Hostomice pod Brdy. We arrived fifteen minutes before they opened at 2:00.

The beers were quite good here. Fabián 10° is a bready, sulfury Czech Pilsner. Fabián 12° is a slightly heavier version of the same. Fabián 14° is a very tasty — if a little light — Bock, and their excellent Märzen is Fabián 15° Březnový. Brewed for St Vaclav's Day, it's smooth and sweet, with hints of toast and honey.

Mario and Ana were flying back home to Düsseldorf this evening, so we all took a car out to the airport and said our goodbyes. Paris and I got a hotel room to save some time in the morning. We had some dinner and went to bed.

Our alarm Monday morning went off at 3:30am — that's 8:30pm Sunday night in Minnesota. We made our way to the gate, got on the 6:05am flight, changed planes in Amsterdam, and landed at MSP around 1:30pm, only about 17 hours after waking up.

And I didn't have another beer until Friday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Oktober Reise, Day 7: Prague Brewpubs

Yesterday: Prague and the Sharks

Saturday, October 8. Time to see Prague for real.

Cabs can get you into the general area where you want to be, but a whole lot of this town is pěší zóna, pedestrian zones, so there's a lot of walking involved too.

There are at least five breweries very near the apartment, so we walked down to the far end of the chain and worked our way back.

One of the buildings along the way had some interesting statues overlooking the street.

The "far end of the chain" happened to be the famous U Fleků. Everyone who enjoys beer wants to visit this place, and for good reason. The beers are magnificent, the food is delicious, the buildings and gardens are spectacular, and they've been at it since 1499.

There are only two beers here, but they're both desert island beers. I had never had them before, and I can't wait to have them again. The first was a pilsner, the Flekovský světlý ležák 13°. Grainy, bready, yeasty, floral, complex. The very definition of a meal-in-a-glass. The other is their "standard" dark beer, the Flekovský tmavý ležák 13°. This is the one they'll bring you if you just ask for "a beer". Rich, toasty, malty, chocolatey, with a hint of licorice and a mild floral hop character. Both beers go nicely with their goulash and garlic soup.

I would have been perfectly content to stay at U Fleků and enjoy these beers all day long, but there were plenty more breweries to explore.

Not far from U Fleků is Pivovar Národní brewers of Czech Lion beer. It's a relatively small place, founded in 2015. They also serve food, but I was still full of goulash.

First up was the filtered version of their pilsner, Czech Lion 11° Filtrovaný Ležák. Light and smooth, grainy and floral, with some diacetyl. Not bad.

We followed that with the unfiltered version of the same beer, Czech Lion 11° Nefiltrovany Lezák. A little more floral and a little less bitter than the Filtrovaný.

Their Czech Lion 13° Nefiltrovany Polotmavý is more like a Vienna-style lager, richly toasty and nicely sweet. This was the best of the bunch.

Finally, their speciál na čepu beer was called Summer Ale 11, an American-style pale ale. It was well past its prime.

Up the street and around the corner is Pivovar U Medvídků. It's a brewery, restaurant, hotel, and yes, a spa, where you really can take a beer bath.

I had the Blondgott pilsner, and it was excellent. I would have liked to try more of their beers, but the waiter didn't seem too interested in bringing us more than one, so that was that.

Three minutes' walk got us to the final brewery of the day, Pivovar U Tří Růzí. Real nice comfortable place with real good beer and food.

I started with their excellent Weizenbier, as good as any I've had in Germany, followed by their dark lager, Tmavý Speciál which was also fantastic.

A bit of lunch laid down the foundation for a couple more Tří Růzí beers. The Výroĉní 10° pilsner was another great beer, mild but still complex and interesting. And the Videňské červené was a fine Vienna-style lager.

The original plan was to go to the second Sharks game, but Paris was exhausted, and Mario wasn't keen, and to be honest, I was kind of feeling it too. So instead we made our way past the Karlův most to a good dinner at Kozlovna Apropos.

Back at the apartment, there were still beers waiting for us, and we even found a stream of the game.

So we watched the game — which the Sharks lost — and had a couple nightcap beers, the first being Gambrinus Original 10 from Plzeňský Prazdroj. Clean, mild, and actually kinda bland compared to the day's earlier beers.

Next up, a can of Svijany Prémiový ležák "450". Another ordinary lager, more grainy and almost smoky.

Finally a couple from Pivovar Krušovice: Ležák 12 and Královský Ležák 12. Both were very much like the last two, clean and mild and ordinary.

Tomorrow: The last day