Last night I went out to meet an old friend of mine and ended up in a pub which unfortunately only had the ubiquitous Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell on tap, some people you just can't educate I'm afraid. They also had Master, an 18º dark beer from the makers of Pilsner Urquell, so I thought I would give it a whirl.
It was very dark, with a coffee coloured head, and sweet nose. The first taste was ok I guess, nothing more than that really, just ok. Lightly roasted flavours, a touch of sweetness and a mild hoppiness, as I say nothing special. The thing that worried me was that after about 15 minutes, was drinking slowly yesterday, it started to smell overwhelmingly of sauerkraut. Now Czechs love their cabbage, and quite rightly, but to have a beer with a cabbage nose is taking it a bit too far. This was the first Master I had tried, so I am not sure if it always smells of sauerkraut or if it was a bum batch, but I won't be hurrying to find out anytime soon.
My friend was kind of surprised that I then started drinking mineral water instead, and refused to believe that firstly none of the major brewers in the Czech Republic are Czech owned, other than Budvar that is, and secondly that Pilsner Urquell is not the apogee of the brewing craft. This is a self declared lover of Czech beer, who had never bothered to try a Svijany, a Primator or even visit Pivovarský dům - his argument runs along the lines of Pilsner Urquell is the best beer in the world so why try anything else? I told him next time we meet up we are going to my choice of pub, I think it will be a Svijany place in Žižkov - I don't want to freak him out too much with places like Zlý Časy.
During our conversation Mrs Velkyal sent me a text message which simply said: "Opened the Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale, wonderfully hoppy, great body, loving it".
Yes, I was jealous.