Archive for May 21st, 2008

Beer Review: Żywiec Warka

21 May, 2008

THANKS to a local corner shop, I’m able to bring you two more reviews of what will probably be more awful Polish beer. This one has the name “Warka”. It also has the words “Uznany Smak”, but I haven’t a clue what that means. Is the brewer called “Warka” and this is their “Uznany Smak” type of beer? Translations gladly received in the comments section at the end of this post.

Warka can

The can looks pretty good. More western in it’s appearance than some of the other Polish beers. There’s some illustrations of hops. And what looks like a castle with the date “A.D.1478″. That’s some heritage behind it.

Despite not knowing any Polish language, even I can make sense of some of the words. Around the top of the roundel for instance, there’s something about traditional beer. And around the bottom of the roundel, something else about an original recipe.

But as for the rest of it, I’m utterly stumped. What does “Uznany Smak” mean? And what do the other words on the front of the can mean?

Turning the can around, we find what must be an ingredients list. With no English, the only things I can make out on there are the size of the can, which is 500 millilitres. And the alcoholic volume, which is an impressive 5.7%. Not bad.

Warka ingredients side of can

Around on the barcode side, and there’s still nothing in English. That fact hasn’t stopped us so far, so let’s press on regardless.

Warka barcode side of can

Apart from the barcode. And the “500 ml”, which of course we already knew, the most noticeable thing is a message. I can’t understand what it say, but I believe it’s something about not drinking and driving. The sign featuring car keys and a cross through them gives that much away. And it’s something of a surprise. Here in the UK, drinking and driving is no longer a big cultural problem. Is it still a problem on Poland? Leave your thoughts in the comments at the end of the post please.

Under the drink drive warning, there’s an address. And it starts off with some good news. It turns out that Warka Uznany Smak is made by Grupa Żywiec S.A. That must be the same Żywiec behind Żywiec Prized Original Beer. And it’s good news because Żywiec wasn’t awful. It was average. And average is better than what I initially expected.

Also on there is an information line telephone number. There’s an email address. And there’s a web address which is www.warka.com.pl. But be warned, in the few moments I spent there, I couldn’t find any links to an English language version.

Looking around the can a little more, and there’s another logo side to it.

Warka other side of can

Instead of the classic roundel logo, this side has the “Warka” name sideways up the side of the can. Something that reminds me of Lech.

With nothing left for me to mis-translate, it’s time to crack open this can, and sample the contents within.

In the glass, Warka is yellow. And fizzy. But it does have a better head than I expected. Maybe this won’t be so bad afterall?

Warka poured from the can

The smell is hardly worth describing. It’s just a cheap malted barley aroma. Utterly unremarkable.

A few gulps in though, and I’m rewarded by something that is surprisingly drinkable. The taste is barely present. The only things I noticed about the taste was a mild bitterness and sourness that doesn’t linger for long. Taste and flavour then, is not what Warka is about.

Where Warka stands out is everything apart from taste and flavour. What it has, is a clean, crisp and refreshing character. And these things make it one of the easiest beers to drink of such high-strength that I’ve seen.

It’s not without downsides however. The head comes from the fizziness. And the fizziness makes it gassy. And the gassiness, predictably, will make you burp. My main gripe with Warka, is that it’s almost tasteless. Body, taste and flavour are almost totally absent. It’s nearly like drinking water. Or Tesco Value Lager. Which, as it happens, are almost identical when it comes to flavour.

Warka Uznany Smak, despite the funny name, is one of the better Polish beers I’ve tried. But that isn’t saying much. Compared to everything else on the market, this is around average. If you want to test the Polish beers being sold here in Britain, Warka is worth a try.

Rating: 2.75

Have you tried this beer? What did you think? Can you translate any of what’s on the can? What reputation does this have in Poland?
Leave your thoughts, corrections, translations, ideas, suggestions and everything else below.

UPDATED 13 Sept. 2008:

I know how popular Warka is, so here’s an update to this post. I managed to track down a bottle. Which, as we all know, is better than anything from a can. There seems to be some sort of promotion being advertised. But I can’t tell what it’s all about. Pics are below. I also tidied up the (Żywiec) title of the post.

Warka bottleWarka neck labelWarka front labelWarka back labelWarka poured from a bottle


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