Are You Tasting the Pith? - 19th Jun 05
No really - the beers are called Bernard, as is the brewery. Now I don't know about you, but I find something quite reassuring in the name - good, solid, traditional and refreshingly no-nonsense. Given the sudden upswing in imports from the Czech Republic, we would do well to regard each newcomer with a wary eye, but Bernard - how can one be suspicious of such an honest-to-goodness moniker like that?
The three beers that I've tried are all excellent examples of what they should be. Bernard Svetly Lezak (4.7% abv) - I don't have the correct ANSI character codes to render them correctly, so this will have to do - is what we might quite rightly term a pilsner; gold, gently assertive hop aroma, and a full malt body giving a good heavy, silky, slightly oily (think Krakus Zywiec rather that castor oil) mouthfeel, and a crisp finish, with a long, lingering finish that dries out leaving one immediately ready for more.
Bernard Tmavy Lezak (5.2% abv) is the dark beer of the family, giving off an immediately noticeable coffeeish, roasted grain note from it's dark, ruby-highlighted body. It manages to be a little more restrained than other Czech tmavy (dark) beers in the exuberance of both flavour and aroma. Herold Black (5.2% abv) is an obvious, and fairly widely distributed, comparison, and what it lacks some of Herold's assertive roasty complexity, it gains in drinkability.
Lastly, the bane of all beer fans, the unavailable beer. Svetly Lezak Spezial (4.7% abv) is currently unavailable in the UK, but the nice importer at Pivovar in York (thanks Jamie) let me have a couple of bottles for our delectation. The Spezial is dosed with yeast on bottling, and comes in a flip-top, rather than a crown-capped, bottle. This has two immediately noticeable effects - it is more expensive, and quite delicious. The yeast gives the beer a depth and complexity that the unprimed version doesn't have. In fact, the difference is similar to the unfiltered zwickel I reviewed here.
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