Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beginnings

I guess most people enjoy a pint, I am no different. However, I have found that since my first, legal, pint of Guinness way back in 1993 my tastes have changed dramatically. I still enjoy an occasional Guinness, especially during the Six Nations when I go to one of Prague’s Irish bars to enjoy the atmosphere which you just don’t get with British football fans. But inevitably ten years in the Czech Republic have left their mark.

In saying that though, I am not a devoted lager drinker by any stretch of the imagination. Before coming to live in Prague I drank Caffrey’s mostly, with the odd Harp Irish Lager chucked in. Like most British men living in a big city, Birmingham at the time, I stopped in a pub on the way home from work for a couple of pints to wind down. One of the bars I drank in from time to time in Brum was “All Bar One”, which boasted beers from around the world and I soon found I had a taste for Polish beers, namely Zywiec.

Moving to Prague though made beer practically an everyday part of life. Whether it was Gambrinus, Velkopopovicky Kozel or Budvar, I loved Czech beers the moment I moved here. The same is true to this day, I still love them – but I have learnt to differentiate between a proper Czech lager, which thankfully Budvar still is, and a soulless mass-produced brand, the likes of Gambrinus and Plzensky Prazdroj fall into this category.

Today when I drink I like to find the independent brewers, such as Svijany, Herold, Chodovar or Primator, all of whom make a wonderful range of flavorful beers in a range of styles. But when I can, and these days are so rare and so precious, I love to indulge in ales. Czech don’t drink ale much, indeed I can only think of one commercially available ale made in this country – Primator’s English Pale Ale. So when a friend brings over some Bishop’s Finger or Ruddle’s County, I am in heaven.

Drinking though is no longer enough, I want to make my own beers. Sometime this month I will be buying my first brewing kit and setting out to make my own beer. Ok it will begin with an extract with specialty grains, but the aim is to become a proficient all grain brewer. Books have been bought, and even a beer designed – the first steps on this journey can soon begin.

In the meantime I will be posting pictures and stories about beer, and most importantly the people that my journey brings me into contact with.

Slainte!

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