Wednesday, 11 July 2012
I've recently enjoyed a couple of very good, but very different beers from the Czech Republic. The first was Bud Premier Select from Budweiser Budvar, which I picked up ready chilled at our local Co-Op. It weighed in at an impressive 7.% % abv., so it was perhaps just as well it only comes in 33cl bottles. Brewed using only the finest Saaz aroma hops, Moravian malt and soft water drawn from the brewery's 300 metre deep artesian wells, and then given a 200 day maturation period prior to bottling, this really was an excellent beer, well-balanced and dangerous;y drinkable!
The second beer, Lobkowicz Baron, was a complete contrast, but no less good. I bought this one at a small branch of the budget supermarket chain, Norma whilst in Munich, and wish now I'd had room for a few more in my suitcase. At just 44 cents (plus deposit) a bottle, it was an absolute bargain, but more to the point a very tasty smooth, yet full-bodied dark lager to boot, with distinct chocolate notes . This 4.7% abv beer reminded me very much of the Bernard's Specialni cerny lezak that I enjoyed during my visit to Prague, back in 2009.
A bit of on line research shows that the brewery in Vysoky Chlumec in Southern Bohemia was established in 1466. In 1474 it was purchased by the Lobkowicz family , who began a long association with the brewery. It was interrupted only in 1939 when the brewery was confiscated by Nazis and the Lobkowicz family was forced to exile to Great Britain. After World War II they returned to Czechoslovakia just to see the communists take over their properties, including the brewery in 1948. In 1992 the brewery was returned to Lobkowicz family and American born William Lobkowicz took over management of the family's assets in the Czech Republic.
Lobkowicz produces its own malt from Bohemian barley, and the beers are produced in a traditional brew house with copper vessels, using aromatic Saaz hops. Fermentation takes place in open vessels, and like the Bud Premier Select, the final balance is rounded off by months spent in the lager cellars. As well as Baron dark lager, the brewery produces a blonde bock beer called Prince and a bohemian style lager called Knight.
A Munich back-street branch of a budget supermarket was an unusual place to find this gem of a Czech beer; as was our local Co-Op for the Bud Premier Select. It just shows you that good beer can sometimes turn up in the unlikeliest of places!