Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunshine in a Glass - Part 1

As I wrote about on Friday, I spent this weekend in Plzeň so that Mrs Velkyal and I could go to an event called Slunce ve Skle, a microbrew festival whose title translates as "Sunshine in a Glass". Although the event itself was on Saturday, we went on Friday night and stayed in the Purkmistr Hotel and Brewery. My plan was to try all the Purkmistr beers on the Friday night, leaving Saturday free to enjoy the offerings from the other brewers.

So Friday night Mrs Velkyal and I enjoyed a very nice dinner, both of us are fans of fried cheese – on Friday I had fried Niva, a type of blue cheese. All the Purkmistr beers I tried on Friday night were 12° and I tried the pale lager, amber lager and the dark lager – all three of which are wonderful beers.

First up was the pale lager, svetlé in Czech, which pours a beautiful golden and has a bright white head. In a country where practically every brewery makes a 12° light lager it is rather easy to become blasé about it. This one however was very nice, with a slight bitterness which makes it a very refreshing and easy to drink lager, in fact I could quite believe that it is too easy to drink – especially as I polished off 5 half liters of the stuff over the course of the next few hours.

Next up was the amber lager, polotmavé in Czech, which is slightly more red than amber and crowned with a tight ivory head, making smelling anything coming from the beer a near impossibility. I have become a fan of polotmavé in recent months, primarily due to the excellent 13° made by Primator, well the Purkmistr version is better. That is not to take anything away from Primator’s beer, but this one is very smooth and has a wonderful sweet maltiness offset by a gentle hoppiness. In common with the pale lager, this is a very easy beer to drink, and every drop is a pleasure.

Purkmistr’s dark beer, černé or tmavé in Czech, is very dark – sometimes dark lagers can be watery looking, but this one looked solid and had hints of burgundy and a tan head. There is a distinct hint of coffee on the nose, which is backed up in the drinking. The coffee though is not overpowering and in the background is the merest hint of cocoa. The body is not as full and strong as some over Czech dark lagers, but it is still a filling beer – ideal for a nightcap.

On Saturday itself came the Purkmistr guys also had a couple of specialty beers available, a blueberry beer, and a rauchbier, it also became clear that the weather had no intention of living up to the festival name, it was cold and grey - perfect weather for grilled suasages with the beer! The rauch pours a beautiful deep garnet colour and has a light tan head, which stops any hint of the smoked malt aromas from escaping from the beer, the touches that do manage to get out are very light. In the mouth however the smoke is far more pronounced, although nowhere near as in your face as a Schlenkerla Märzen for example, and it does catch in the back of your throat. This is an excellent rauchbier, but not one that I would want to drink for a full session. The blueberry beer, borůvkové in Czech was also very nice, red in colour and with a tinge of pink in the head, the nose was fruity but not in an overpowering sense, and in the mouth the blueberries were clearly to the fore, but without being so sweet that it became sickly.
All the Purkmistr beers were very good, and the hotel itself is beautiful and well worth shelling out to stay there. The event itself was excellent as well and in the coming days I will talk more about the various beers we tried, when I say we I don’t just mean Mrs Velkyal and I. We had the pleasure to meet Pivní Filosof, whose blog is an excellent read and heartily recommended. With the various friends we had persuaded to make the arduous trip out to Plzeň (some expats in Prague get vertigo if they leave the city centre), we ended up with a cosmpolitan group of a few Brits, a smattering of Americans, a Norwegian, a Venezuelan, an Argentine and a couple of Czechs. All of us enjoying superb beers and having a wonderful time – the more events like this that take place in the Czech Republic the better.


  1. It was a great day indeed. Though, I'm still recovering. Shoudln't have drunk those shots...
    I hope to be posting about it soon.
    Anyway, it was great meeting you, pity I didn't take your mobile no.
    Please, email me to my gmail address pivnifilosof.

  2. Sent you an email this morning, was indeed a good day - next time I pop along to Purkmistr I will pick up a bottle or bottles of the "Velbloudice". ;)


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