Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Real!

I noticed on Friday that Ratebeer has finally caught up with the real world and accepted that Polotmavý, which is Czech for 'half dark', is a distinct beer 'style' from Vienna lagers or the more generic 'amber lager'. They describe the 'style' as follows:
'This is the amber lager style of the Czech Republic. The character that the brewery usually aims for with this style is a hybrid between the dark lager and the pale pilsner. The result has a richer malt character than the American Dark/Amber Lager/Vienna style and more hop than the Oktoberfest/Marzen style'.
While I understand what they are trying to say here, let me just clear something up, Polotmavý is not a 'hybrid' of pale lager and tmavý, which is dark lager, it is a descendent of Vienna lager. For a better idea of these beers, this is what Evan Rail says about it in the 'Good Beer Guide - Prague and the Czech Republic':
'Unlike Pilsner-style brews, which usually require extremely soft water, half-darks can be made with a higher carbonate content and can include caramel and dark malt to various degrees, as well as Pilsner malt. Extremely clear and reddish-amber in colour, they are perhaps closest to the Vienna lager invented in the 19th Century by Anton Dreher'.
Something that is important to remember with Czech brewing though is that what we in the Anglo-American centric beer world call a style, such as polotmavý, is really just a definition of the general colour of the beer. Most examples range from a rich amber to a garnet red, as such you'll see beers marketed as 'jantar' and 'granát' respectively. Remembering that fact is important, because under the current Czech brewing laws there are 4 categories of beer based on strength, each of which can be Polotmavý:
  • Stolní pivo or 'table beer', up to 6° Plato OG (up to 1.024 and rarer than hen's teeth)
  • Výčepní pivo or 'tap beer' between 7° to 10° (1.028-1.040)
  • Ležák or 'lager' 11° and 12° (1.044-1.048)
  • Speciální pivo or 'special beer' 13° and higher (1.052+)
Another thing to be aware of is that Polotmavý is not the same as a řezané, which is a blend of dark and pale beers, both should be the same gravity, to make a Czech lager equivalent of the black and tan.

As for how a Polotmavý will taste, again let me quote Evan (admittedly for the Ležák variant but applicable across the board really):
'a lightly toasted taste and some serious malt complexity followed by a balanced hop finish'.
As with most Czech beers, the hops in question are likely to be Saaz, so expect lots of that wonderful lemony, hay, grassy thing that is so characteristic of the most noble of noble hops.

To mark Polotmavý's acceptance on Ratebeer, I cracked open some of my homebrew version, which I call Dark Island Granát, on Friday afternoon, when Mrs V got home from work....

Is it 'to style' (such a bullshit phrase)? I like to think so, is it dangerously moreish to drink? Oh yes.

1 comment:

  1. It's sort of progress, I guess, but thinking Polotmavý is a single style really only shows how clueless they are.