HAVE you tried Romainian beer? Neither have I. To remedy that, I brought back two interesting looking bottles from the Romanian shop in Edgware, North London. This is the first one, Timişoreana.
Breaking with Big Log tradition, I did some research first. And by research, I mean spending a couple of minutes Googling what strangers have to say. The net result is that the official Romanian language website is at http://www.serbariletimisoreana.ro/. And the best English language summary is on the Real Beer Blog; on which we learn that this is probably Romania’s oldest beer (or “bere” as they prefer to call it). And that it’s now owned and run by the makers of the Romanian beer that I’ll post about next. Everything else, we can glean from the bottle labels themselves. I hope.
The neck label has a picture of a frothy tankard and some writing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but “Anno 1718” means that’s the date the brewery dates from. Quite impressive for the region.
Down on the main front label, they’ve opted for a big roundel with an even bigger letter “T” in the middle.
In the middle of it all are what look like medals. The one of the left looks like a prize from “1891”. The big middle one is a “Grand Prix” from 1908. And the one of the right is un-readably small.
I learnt somewhere that the Romanian language is much like the Latin world languages of Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Let’s put that, and my limited knowledge of Latin Indo-European linguistics to the test by attempting to make sense of the words around the edges of the label. The bottom one, I think, means something like “Best” or “First” “Made Beer in Romania”. The top border might mean something about “Very” and “Traditional”. Translators, help me out. What does it all mean?
If the front label left me struggling, I might as well give up on the back one.
Translators, I need your help again.
Ignoring the writing, there are things even I can understand. The 5% alcoholic volume for instance. The web address of www.serbariletimisoreana.ro and telephone number. The best before date. That this is a 0.5 litre bottle. And that it’s owned by Ursus Breweries and brew-zilla, SAB Miller.
Digging a little deeper into the Romanian language, I spot the words “Bere Blondă Pasteurisată”. So, it’s pasteurised, not draught. Fine, but “Blondă”? Is this going to impress me by being a blonde ale and not a Pilsner style lager?
Next comes the address of the brewery. Timişoara must inspiration behind the name Timişoreana. Then comes the list of ingredients, and I’m all out of linguistic talent again.
So, big thank you to the translators out there who’ve done most of the describing for me, this time around. Now it’s on to the fun bit. What does Timişoreana taste like?
I take a chance on it being a lager, and wait until it’s fridge-cold until opening. Pouring is a doddle. That big frothy head is as controllable as any, so no counter tops to wipe down afterwards.
In the glass, it’s a very fizzy looking yellow, gold colour. The head is snow white. On the nose, you get a big whiff of that malted-barley formula that most big-name Pilsner style lagers deliver. Quite grainy and ever so slightly hoppy. I’d describe it as lagery.
What does Timişoreana taste like? The first gulp was easy enough. So I promptly took another swig. Then the aftertaste hit me. First impressions are that Timişoreana is going to be a lager as subtle as Mel Gibson.
On the flavour and taste side of the equation, you get a reasonable sourness and initial bitterness. This you can skip by gulping it down, if that’s your style. On the feel and aftertaste side of the equation, you get hit by just a block of lagery, malted barley bitterness. No quirks or flourishes. Just a block of simple, lagery bitterness. So brute force is it, that it’s a long lasting finish. No hoppiness as far as I can tell. Just that another twist on that familiar malted barley formula.
What am I enjoying about Timişoreana? Cold from the fridge, it’s easy enough to drink. It’s an honest, simple, down to earth lager. That taste is distinctive. And if you judge your beers by quantity, Timişoreana could easily be your friend over the course of a football match or night out.
What don’t I like about Timişoreana? It’s not the most sophisticated lager I’ve tried. That taste is as enjoyable as meningitis, and only gets worse as it reaches room temperature. A good lager is clean, crisp and refreshing. Even while cold, it is barely refreshing. After a couple of bottles, your mouth would quickly feel like a muddy puddle. It’s a little on the gassy side, too.
How can I sum up Timişoreana? If you’re in Romania, where, hopefully, it’s much cheaper than it is here in Britain, and you want a sub-standard lager, this is the one for you. If you have no choice and you prefer quantity over quality, Timişoreana is adequate. For the premium you pay in this country, and even in the depths of Romania, it’s hard to think of a reason to choose Timişoreana over something better. If you can think of a good reason to buy Timişoreana, leave a comment. Otherwise, treat yourself to something less ghastly.
Have you tried Timişoreana? What did you think of it? Can you translate the labels? Then leave a comment here!