Archive for August 18th, 2008

Beer Review: Zubr Premium

18 August, 2008

NOT to be confused with the Polish Żubr, this Zubr Premium is Czech. And it appears just when I thought I had tried all the Czech beers. I wander how it will compare to the under-whelming Ostravar, Praga and Budvar or the above-average Staropramen? There’s only one way to find out…

Zubr Premium bottle

First impressions? The shiny silver labels look great. But stuck onto a muddy brown bottle? After yesterday’s marvellously colour-coordinated Harbin Lager, this looks a little on the cheap side.

The small roundel logo on the neck foil is good.

Zubr Premium neck foil

It informs us that this brewery dates back to 1872. Not very far back, but enough to give it some heritage. Then there’s the logo inside the roundel. It looks like a bull in front of a castle. Am I seeing things? What is it supposed to be?

As for the three words around the border of the roundel, two of them are close enough to English to understand. And those words must be “Traditional Czech”. But what of the third word? If you know what “Kvalita” means, do please leave a comment at the end of this post.

The front label is sharp, shiny and good looking.

Zubr Premium front label

Simply a big version of the roundel, everything is nearly in its place. The words around the border say “Czech Beer” and “Premium Quality”. Whilst in the bottom corners are the vital statistics. This bottle is 0.5L (or 500 millilitres if you prefer). And it weighs in at a somewhat unusual 5.1% volume. I like that. 0.1% more than the continental average. Brilliant.

Lastly, around the bottom of the roundel are what look like medals. Or are they crests? Either way, the shininess of the label and the tiny size of whatever it is they are make it difficult to know.

Over on the back label, and everything is straightforward, easy to read and English. This must be an export version.

Zubr Premium back label

They open by describing it as a “Classic Czech Beer” that has a “Golden Honey Colour Traditionally Brewed Using the Finest Ingredients”. A statement that you could copy and paste onto nearly any beer bottle and get away with it.

Next up is the address. This beer comes courtesy of the Zubr Company, Přerov in the Czech Republic. The web address it gives, www.zubr.cz, even ends in the CZ country code. Again, I’m so pleased to see another genuine imported beer in an off-licence refrigerator cabinet. Incidentally, the English language section is at http://www.zubr.cz/en.

There’s not much else to report. There’s no ingredients list. No UK units of alcohol symbol. But they do say that this has 2.6 units of alcohol per 500 millilitres. Does anyone know what system of units this is from? How do these units compare to UK units of alcohol? Leave your knowledge in the comments at the end of the post, please.

Now it’s time to open this bottle and see how it compares to the other Czech beers. Will it be better than Staropramen? My money is on ‘no’.

Zubr Premium poured into a glass

In the glass, it really is “golden honey” coloured. Which makes a change from pale yellow lagers. There’s not much head though. Moment after that photo was taken, it became an odd patchwork of bubbles on the surface. Not so good, as I like a decent layer of froth.

The smell is… not particularly strong. But what it does have is not bad. It smells vaguely of malted barley, but not in the same way as lagers do.

A couple of gulps in, and I’m fairly impressed. Nowhere to be seen is the half-absent blend of lagery flavours. Instead, Zubr Premium tastes, quite vividly, of malted barley and hops. All of which give a pleasant, strong-ish, and reasondly lingering bitter after taste.

There is much that I like about Zubr Premium. And that surprises me. Because I didn’t expect there to be anything. I like that it has flavour. I like that the flavour tastes good. I like that the strength of the flavours means that it is drinkable. I like that it’s different enough from the others to be distinctive and having some of the elusive characteristic that is… well… character.

There must be something I don’t much like about it. Half-way through, and there are one or two problems. I’m burping more than usual, so it must be gassy. Even though it has flavour, it’s not truly full-bodied. All of which means that it will soon feel like you’re drinking foamy water. The flavour, even though I’m finding it somewhat tasty, would wear thin after a few bottles or pints. Not as badly as the lagers, but there’s not enough depth too keep you as interested as, say, an ale would.

What Zubr Premium is, then, is a tasty beer. No lagery awfulness, but no serious complexity either. Just a good, decent, well flavoured beer. I didn’t expect it to fair well against its Czech competitors. But this is up there with Staropramen. Maybe even slightly ahead. I’ve got to recommend this for anyone curious about Czech or European beers.

Rating: 3.2

Have you tried Zubr Premium? Can you translate anything on the label?

Leave your corrections, translations, opinions and recommendations in the little boxes below please. And remember; bookmark this blog! You can’t risk missing anything.


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