Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A Perfect 10

You would be forgiven, if all you drank was American made "Bohemian Pilsners", for believing that pale lagers from Czechia are almost uniformly 14° Plato or above, such is the frequency with which you come across beers with an abv north of 5.5%.

The truth though is that for all the Pilsner Urquell love you get in the craft beer world, and that love is thoroughly deserved for such an iconic, and truly great, beer, the most popular beer in Czechia is Gambrinus 10°. When talking about traditional Czech breweries, it is a pretty solid bet that their top selling beers are also 10° pale lagers, aka "desítka". If you go into practically any standard boozer in Czechia, the kinds that don't have side pour taps, don't fanny about with different types of pours, and where tourists would stand out a mile, if you ask for a "pivo" you will get a desítka.

Last week I got a message from Jace, the GM of the Charlottesville Starr Hill tasting room, telling me that he had a case of Elder Pine 10 Plato Pivo and was happy to share some with me. Having agreed a trade of a couple of cans of Olde Mecklenburg Mecktoberfest and Carolina Keller in return, I picked up the beers last Friday. I say beers, because Jace chucked in a New Zealand style Pilsner that was frankly superb, but I am not going to write about that one.

Obviously though I am writing about the desítka, but first a picture...


Look at the simple glory of that beer, also cool can design, but that beer just looks the part. As much as I love many US made pale lagers, there are times when I feel they are just a touch on the, erm, pale side. Don't get me wrong, they are still fantastic beers, but from the offset with the colour and the voluminous white head and hung around stubbornly, clinging to the glass as I drank, this one felt just plain right.

Now, zoom in on the picture above and read the abv. There is a school of thought that if you times a beer's abv by 2.5 it will give you the starting gravity. Four times two and a half is....that's right, 10, and exactly what you would expect from a desítka in Czechia. So far it looks the part, and the numbers work out right for the part too. Ok, ok, try not to get too carried away here, take a sniff...hay, lemongrass, some floral stuff, and a very subtle bready malt note. Oh god, please don't let this beer fuck it up when I actually drink it...


Hallelujah, no fucked up flavours here! The almost honeyed grain is there, the firm through unobtrusive bitterness is there, the delicate interplay of orange flower hops and the malt is there. Wait, where am I? Am I back in a Černý Most boozer, you know, the one at the bus/metro station, crowded with working men in their blue overalls? Back, nope I am at my kitchen table in Virginia. With duly expected fervour I insist Mrs V try it too...she sips, she nods, she looks at the can..."when are we going to Gaithersburg?". Approval.

It didn't take long for the other cans to make their way into a glass, and subsequently down my throat, and now I want more, a lot more. 

I guess I need to plan a trip to Gaithersburg next time they have this delight available.

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