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beer reviews Poland

Definitely not beer of the week

lechpils

Our local Turkish-run corner shop sells some surprisingly good beer but, on the flipside, they make most of their money flogging nasty ciders and strong lagers to tramps. Which is Lech Pils?

Lech Pils caught our eye because we’ve got a soft spot for Poland and because, unlike Lech Premium, it isn’t that commonly seen in the UK. There was also the thought in the back of our minds that, if Premium is a boring lager (and it is) then maybe Pils would actually be something more interesting — perhaps drier, hoppier and more bitter? It certainly looked the part, being as pale as a beer can be, and quite gently carbonated.

Sadly, it’s rubbish.  It smells a bit like WD40 and tastes like mouthwash. It reminded us of Fosters, and that’s not a good thing. Straight afterwards, we had a Pilsner Urquell for the sake of comparison, and it was streets ahead. Could this be the least surprising conclusion to a beer review ever?

When Boak lived in Poland, Lech Premium was her beer of choice, being the least likely of all the Polish beer brands to give her a migraine. “Best of a bad bunch” would be the phrase…

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Franconia Germany homebrewing recipes

Eppingwalder Pils

eppingwalder

We’ve had a bit of success making lager in the past. As long as you don’t set your sights on recreating the clinical purity of the mass-produced products — if you’re happy with a bit of Czech or Franconian fruitiness — then it’s more than possible to come up with something decent in your kitchen at home, with only the wishy-washy English winter and a cluttered garage for cold-conditioning.

Our most recent effort was supposed to be a clone of Pilsner Urquell (pilsner malt, Urquell yeast, Saaz hops) but turned out to be a cloudier and a little sweeter. Drinking it in the sun, we were taken back instantly to the beer gardens and halls of Nuremberg, Wuerzburg, Bamberg, Augsburg and… well, you get the picture.  It was rough around the edges but very alive. We’re chuffed to bits and will be drinking it all summer, if we can make it last.

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Germany

The bitterest Pils is (not) hard to swallow

Wernesgruener Pils Legende is, for the moment, my new favourite beer.

It’s made near Berlin and, for a long time, was an East German speciality shipped mostly to the West. It’s now owned by the same people who own Bitburger.

I’ve been ignoring it because I read a review that said it had lost most of its character (like Hoegaarden, Urquell, etc. etc.) and I had other things to try. I don’t know what convinced me to give it a go after all, but I’m glad I did.

It’s remarkable for its bitterness, its hoppiness and its balance. I’ve bought people Jever before and watched them turn their noses up — literally — as its pungent odour assaults them about the brain. Wernesgruener is less extreme, but no less tasty.

Of course, it looks gorgeous in the glass — the thick white head rose inches above the glass and refused to move even a millimetre in the breeze.

I’m not ashamed to say that, when it’s hot, I often want to drink cold lager. This one was just what I needed.

You can get Wernesgruener in bottle at Zeitgeist. It’s sometimes also available in Aldi.

Bailey

Categories
beer reviews breweries Franconia pubs

Wuerzburg part 2 – Wuerzburger Hofbrau

Wuerzburger Hofbrau dominate the town. Their logo is all over the place, and is one of the first things you see when you get out of the station. They also have three beers in Michael Jackson’s “Great Beer Guide” (aka The 500).

Their Ausschank is over the river, on the Marienburg side, in an enormous beer garden. The pub and garden combined probably has the capacity for several thousand people.

We wonder whether Michael Jackson may have been (overly) influenced by the wonderful surroundings, because although his selections from the Wuerzburger offerings are very nice, they’re not that special, in our humble opinion. For example, the Schwarzbier was better than say, Koestritzer, but still tasted mostly like fizzy watered-down treacle. The dunkleweiss was also not that exciting – rather sweet and unbalanced.

However, there are loads of other offerings at the Ausschank. The Zwickl lives up to potential, being a nice fruity, partially cloudy lager. It’s refreshing, with a long aftertaste. And once again, the pils did well – it’s very bitter and aromatic. It’s nice having all these great pils – it can be such a boring style.

Finally, we had “Werner Alt-Fraenkischer Dunkel”. Werner were taken over by Wuerburger in 1999, according to their website. This was a luvverly drop, toasty, nutty and ale-like.

All in all, worth the walk as it’s a delightful beer garden with lovely beer.

PS – if you’re going from Heidelberg to Wuerzburg, you can do it for just eight euros by getting a couple of local trains and going via Osterburken. It only takes a little longer than going via Frankfurt, and is 36 euros cheaper, plus it goes up the Neckar valley and is much more picturesque. Just thought this information should be somewhere on the web in English.

Categories
beer reviews Franconia pubs

Wuerzburg part 1 – Distelhaeuser @ Alte Mainzmuehle Gasthof

We’ve been to Wuerzburg before, and thoroughly enjoyed the place, so we scheduled a stopover this time round. We’ve drunk in most of the places in Ron’s guide but we had a couple of aims this time. Firstly, to visit the Wuerzburger Hof brewery tap, and secondly to revisit one of our favourite restaurant-pubs, the Alte Mainzmuehle.

This is situated right on the old bridge, overlooking the Main. It’s more of a restaurant than a pub, but it’s not stuffy or formal. It’s worth mentioning because the food is a cut above what you normally get in pubs, without being pricy or pretentious. You can get hearty German food or lighter alternatives.

They have a full range from Distelhaeuser on tap. The Landbier is extremely refreshing – it’s not very carbonated, and has hints of liquorice, despite being pale. The “dinkel” is golden-brown, with a thick body and hints of chocolate. We think it’s a bit stronger than the rest, possibly slightly bock-y, and they only serve it in 0.5l krugs. We’d assumed that “Dinkel” was a funny regional variation on “Dunkel”, but in fact it’s German for “spelt”, and is indeed made from that grain. It’s lovely, complex stuff.

The Weizen is wonderful – as well as the usual banana and clove, there a hints of pineapple and peach, with more hops than usual. Not sweet either, which is great.

The pils was a pleasant surprise – we were expecting this to be more boring, but it had a good sulphurous nose, a fruity-spicy-malt flavour (peach, fennel) and a lovely bitter finish. Clean, yet complex, with a long aftertaste.

We’re intrigued by Distelhaeuser. They’ve obviously moved beyond the quaint village Hausbrauerei stage, given they have a number of outlets in Wuerzburg, but they’re clearly keen to maintain Franconian traditions (having a Landbier, for example) and rant against mass production on their beer mats. The Dinkel beer shows a willingness to innovate as well.