Monday, October 6, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere

I spent about 5 hours on Saturday just walking around various parts of Prague. I am lucky in many ways in that I live right in the heart of the city, just a five minute walk from Vaclávské Náměstí, so I get to indulge my love of bumbling with a camera almost every weekend. Our intention was just to stroll around and take some pictures of random bits of pieces, after an hour or so of which we stumbled upon the new brewpub Pražský most na Valšů and being in need of a sit down, we ventured in to try their beer. As you can see from the picture at the head of this article, they also sell a couple of other brewers’ beer, in this case Malý Rohozec and Březňák. On the door was a note saying that they had special prices for their own beer, 30kč for a half litre and 22kč for a 0.3l - their normal prices are 45kč and 30kč respectively.

We decided to try out the svetlý ležák first, myself with a full half litre and Mrs Velkyal with a little one. Before describing the beer I want to say that I loved the décor of the place, the chairs are solid, and heavy, wood, and the lampshades look like a stylized version of the Charles Bridge, with a statue on the top. In short, the interior is fantastic. I held high hopes for the beer.
When eventually the beer came, the place was virtually empty yet the service was tardy, it was a light honey colour with a nice rocky head, which stayed for the duration of the drink. There were distinct smells of clove and flowers when I shoved my nose into the glass, Mrs Velkyal commented that it smelt metallic. When actually drinking the beer, the first taste was that of lemon, and a bitterness which caught the back of the throat, lingering through the aftertaste. The dominant taste though was distinctly tinny and it has a very slight body. While it is not a bad beer it is definitely not up there with the best microbrew lagers that the Czech Republic has to offer, though it is streets ahead of megaswill such as Gambrinus. In many ways it is the BBC Radio 2 of Czech beer, nothing offensive, but nothing memorable either.


I had noticed on the bar a bottle of dark lager, so I assumed that the second tap they had would be their own tmávé, however on asking it turned out to be the Rohozec Skalák dark lager, so I ordered a half litre of that, as Mrs Velkyal was still nursing her little one. When it arrived, again with the tardy service requiring that I went to the bar to order, it was a fabulous dark ruby with a tan head. On the nose there was again a touch of tinniness, though not as pronounced as with the light lager, and hints of sweet caramel. The caramel in the nose was reinforced with a nice toffee sweetness which also had the faintest trace of coffee. This beer has a nice body and is clean in the mouth, making it a nice easy dark lager to drink.

When I went to pay I decided to pick up a bottle of the house dark lager to try when we eventually made it home, at 35kč for a bottle of beer I was hoping for something really good.

Mrs Velkyal and I continued our wanderings, going up to the Vinohrady area of Prague following up a tip from Pivní Filosof that there is a shop selling Chodovar beers – one of my favourites in the Czech Republic. Sure enough we found the shop, which also sells a good selection of whiskies, rums, tequilas, wines from around the world and tucked on a corner of the sales counter were bottles of Chodovar 13° lager, their excellent tmávé and their wonderful skální ležák. So we bought a couple of bottles of Argentine malbec, another passion that Pivní Filosof and I share, and two bottles each of the 13° and skální ležák, with that done we headed home.

Once home I decided to pop open the dark lager from Pražský most na Valšů and complete my tasting. One of my bad habits is reading beer labels, and I must admit that reading the ingredient list for this one made me a touch nervous – why would a beer need ascorbic acid in it? For a dark beer it is rather light in colour, and the somewhat minimal head soon disappeared. The smell of this beer was overwhelmingly detergent, that sounds as disgusting as it smelt – Mrs Velkyal suggested that it was the glass, but I always wash, rinse and dry my beer glasses thoroughly. The beer itself tasted like burnt toast and had very little body and was syrupy and soapy, in keeping with the light lager there was again a metallic taste, except this time it was more noticeable and was clearly copper. It was so bad that I did something I have never done before, after about 5 sips of the beer I gave up and poured it down the sink – it was quite simply the worst beer I have had in the Czech Republic, yes even worse than Klášter. Really the only good thing about the beer was the label.

I can honestly say that Pražský most na Valšů will not become a regular haunt. The light lager is ok, but not worth paying 30kč for, the Rohozec is more expensive and while a decent pint, I can buy a bottle for less at Pivovarský klub. Plus I have a problem with a brewpub selling another brewer’s wares, it suggests a lack of confidence in their own product, and in the case of their dark lager, that lack is well placed.

3 comments:

  1. I was at U Vaslu shortly after they started tapping their beers and was pretty dissapointed, as I said in my post, it tasted like a industrial 11ª, promised myself to go again, haven't done it yet. Seems I haven't missed much.
    Ascorbic acid is the famous and much discussed E300, present in Primátor and Herold bottles, among many others. Wish it wasn't there, but doesn't seem to affect the taste. The question then should be, why does a microbrewery use E300?
    The tinny taste can be due dirty taps.
    Tourist trap is what this place has written all over, if you ask me.

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  2. I originally thought that the metallic taste could be put down to dirty taps and lines, but in the bottled beer it was just plain disgusting. I think though it is a place clearly aimed at tourists, especially given that their website is only in Czech and Russian.

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