Mrs Velkyal and I visited Plzeň at the weekend, staying in a lovely hotel and brewery which I will write about tomorrow. We spent Friday afternoon and evening just lazing around, drinking the beer and watching a magnificent thunder storm from the comfort of the restaurant - although we were originally sat outside, but when the clouds came it was time to move indoors, and watch a video presentation about the building of the hotel and the brewing process.
On Saturday we decided to head into the city itself and visit the zoo and maybe go to the Pilsner Urquell brewery - I say maybe because I am not a big fan of mass guided tours, and in the end we didn't tour the brewery although we did have a few beers in the restaurant on the premises.
Anyway, we stopped into a little pizza place for lunch and as I was gearing up to order my usual Mattoni when in a place that sells Gambrinus or something similar from the SABMiller stable, I noticed that they had the Gambrinus 11° Excellent on tap and given that Evan said it wasn't bad, I thought I would give it a bash.
As you can see from the picture it was dark golden with a firm white head - which clung around for the duration, a pleasant change from the usual Gambrinus brews. The nose was rather floral and grassy, things were looking good at this point. Taste wise? Rather nice actually, a gentle malty sweetness coupled with just enough bitterness to round it off. I enjoyed the first one enough to have a second, it really was a nice drink - not something to get my inner beer geek into a lather of joy, but not something my inner beer snob would turn his nose up at either.
The thing I found most interesting with Gambrinus Excellent (bit of a misnomer but in comparison to the other beers they make, this is the nectar of the gods) is that it doesn't follow the same production method of the others, which are fermented at 13° and then watered down for packaging and retail.
Gambrinus Excellent reminded me once again that the big brewers can make a decent beer when they want to - after all they must have been doing something right to get big in the first place. It also made me think that sometimes we don't give the big boys credit for the decent beers they make, just as often we overlook the failings of the micros because we want to support David against Goliath.