Friday, April 25, 2008

A shameless plug

In Mrs Velkyal and I's quest for making random alcoholic drinks, we came across the following people.

Not only are they prepared to ship to the Czech Republic, but also they have been wonderfully helpful.

Thank you very much!

Dandelion wine and mead

Ok not really a post about beer.

Mrs Velkyal decided earlier this year that she would like to make dandelion wine, so on Tuesday it was decided that we buy a 5 litre bottle of cheap Italian wine - see a previous post - and start the process.

Before chucking the wine down the toilet we decided to try a bit, just in case it was worth drinking. To put it bluntly it was the most awful wine either of us had ever tried. It was so comically bad that it reminded me of a Ukrainian wine I bought in Birmingham way back at college. But a 7 euros for 5 litres what do you expect? We only wanted the bottle anyway.

So sitting in the flat is a bottle with dandelion petals and slithers of lemon and orange - it will sit there for another 8 days, doing whatever it is it does, before being filtered into a primary fermenter and having wine yeast pitched in. We are hoping for some yeast from Moravia for this, but we also bought some commercially available from the UK. Apparently this wine will be ready just in time for Christmas.

Next week I will be going through the process of buying a bottle of awful wine again, this time with the intention of making a cinnamon infused mead. Also for Christmas.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Equipment woes

The Czech Republic is a land famed for its beer - quite rightly so. However, it seems that a never ending supply of decent beer has stifled the initiative of people to brew their own - hence getting equipment is difficult.

But I am not one to be outdone. Was in a shop this morning and found 5 litre wine bottles for just 179kc (about 12 USD or 6 GBP). So I thought to myself, I will sling the wine down the sink (it is just some Italian stuff and at that price for 5 litres I doubt I will be going mental for it) and hey presto I have a carboy!

5 litres isn't a big batch, but I think it is just about right for a first stab at this.

So next up is sourcing the ingredients.....

Friday, April 11, 2008

First beer designed

So the calculations have been done for my first beer.

I plan to make an oatmeal stout which will be known as Machair.

My original plan was to use a small amount of malted barley which would be used to make a good malt whisky, preferably one with a good peaty nose. Unfortunately it is rather tricky to get hold of in central Europe - though I am playing with the idea of using smoked malt from Bamberg.

Once I have all the equipment I will be posting the recipe on here.

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!