Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Cream from the Cat

Last night I was at Pivovarsky Dum for the tasting session with Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf, where they presented 6 of their beers, most of which I had tried in Plzen at the Slunce ve Skle festival. However, I was looking forward to trying their 12 degree lager and Scottish Ale as well as re-trying their stout, which I had at Slunce ve Skle but by that point the note book was in my pocket and I was focusing on drinking.

The first offering was their unfiltered and unpasteurized 12 degree lager, which is a pale golden colour, Mrs Velkyal noted that it looked like sunflower honey, with a nice slightly off-white head. On the nose there was a touch of smokiness that put me in mind of the wonderful Schlenkerla Helles lager, as well as some cidery notes. Again like the Schlenkerla, the lager has a nice, crisp clean flavour, and the the first few mouthfuls are refreshing, although I found the body a bit thin for my tastes, even watery after a while. I found this to be quite bitter, with a low level of sweetness in the background.

I was really looking forward to the Scottish Ale as it would be a taste of home. The beer itself was brewed by a Scotsman who came over to make it. It pours a light brown, which put me in mind of McEwan's 70/- and had a smallish head which was a slightly darker ivory. There was very little on the nose, Mrs Velkyal commented that she didn't like what she could smell, and I thought it smelled like cigarettes. However, it tasted quite good, with a light caramel flavour, the only problem from my perspective was that is was a touch too bitter for a Scottish Ale and I would have liked to see more body and a fuller sweetness in the beer.

The highlight of the night for me was the stout. This stout is jet black and comes with a fantastic foamy brown head. The nose is full of roasted coffee and made me think of a fine Italian espresso, just wonderful. In the mouth it is smooth with the coffee notes balanced by a nice touch of chocolate and even a certain creaminess. The body was a little on the light side, which I actually found helped the drinkability of this beer. With a touch more sweetness than bitterness this is a beer I could merrily drink lots of - and the sooner it is a regular on the taps of Prague the better.

One of the things I really enjoyed about last night was comparing beers with Mrs Velkyal, it is said that women have better palates than men and so to get her input was interesting - for example with the stout, where I was enjoying the roasted coffee she thougt it teetered on the edge of burnt rather than roast. It was also a pleasure to finally meet Evan Rail, as well as seeing Honza from the brewery itself again. So a few hours with people who love their beer made it a throughly pleasant evening.

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