Posts Tagged ‘pils’

Beer Review: Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer

25 September, 2008

AFTER yesterday’s ghastly Kosovan Birra Peja Pilsner, it’s back to the relative safety of a Polish beer. This one appears to be called Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer. You don’t find it very easily. Unlike the big-name beers from Poland, I could only find this one in a Polish shop up in Wealdstone.

It doesn’t look at all bad. It’s the combination of green coloured labels and green bottle glass. It does it every time.

The neck label doesn’t tell us much though.

All it has is the logo and some hop imagery. The logo looks like a shield with an animal, possibly a goat, either tending to, or fighting some hops. I’m as baffled as you are.

The main front label is an oddly shaped roundel. But that doesn’t stop it from looking good and doing a nice job.

Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer front label

The top border says “Since 1846″. Which makes it one of the oldest Polish brewers out there. It has some smaller words hugging the inside of the border too. These ones say “Traditional Recipe”, “Best Quality” and “Excellent Taste”. All the usual marketing drivel, but it tells us that this bottle is aimed at people who read English.

Under the big “PERŁA” banner is another word. What does “Chmielowa” mean? It looks like it’s part of the beer name, which is why I’ve titled this review “Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer“. But I could easily be wrong. What you can’t mistake, however, is the little description around the bottom border. This one simply describes it as “Premium Pils Beer”.

As well as straightforward little descriptions, it also has something to say about where it’s come from. Which, as a clueless outsides, I love to read. This one says “Brewed and Bottled by Perła – Browary Lubelskie S.A.”. That’s a welcome sight because it doesn’t ring a bell. Nearly every other Polish beer I’ve tried has had printed somewhere on it a big-name like Żywiec or Tyskie.

Another welcome sight is the upfront vital statistics. No need to peer around onto the back label with this bottle. That’s because it’s 500 ml size and strong, 6% alcoholic volume are right there for you to see. All in all, it’s a good piece of design.

It’s a similar story on the back label as well. And we don’t even have to struggle with the Polish language. It’s all there in English. Which begs the question, why isn’t it more widely available in this country?

Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer back label

The top of the label has what look like medals. But they’re too small to read what they’re for.

Then the description starts. And this is a particularly interesting one about hops. That’s interesting because you normally only find this sort of thing on bottles of English ale. This one informs us that this Perła Chmielowa has acquired it’s “excellent taste and distinctive aroma” to the local Lublin hops. Never having seen that name on any other bottle, I’m intrigued to discover what this one is going to taste like. Not to mention amazed that I’m evening thinking that about a Polish beer.

Next down the label is the full technical description. They describe it as “Full Light Beer”. Whatever that means. Also that it’s “Pasteurised”. They then go even further by letting us know that it contains E-300. Blimey, that’s a lot of detail. Sadly, it means it’s not going to be a wholly natural experience. Not with that great big ‘E’ number.

The ingredients they mention include water, barley, malt and hops. No surprise there. They also recommend that you keep it in a cool and dark place.

There’s a full address on there, in case you want to write them a letter or visit them. They really do come from Lublin. The web address they provide is www.perla.pl. It’s nice enough, but yet another Flashy website that looks more like a television commercial than a website. One interesting thing I did see on the website, amoung the dodgy translations, was that Perła Chmielowa seems to mean “Hop Perl”. Is that right? Polish readers, as usual do please leave a comment at the end of this post with your translations, pronunciations and thoughts about what reputation this has in Poland.

Under all of that is the name of the importer. In this case, it’s BDD Limited from North-West London. For the curious, the website they have on the label is at www.bdd.net. An imported whom, according to their website, is the biggest supplier of Polish beers in the UK. It appears I’ve them to thank for the Polish beers I’ve been enjoying and hating over the last few months.

The big question is, will Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer be the best Polish beer I’ve tried so far? All it needs to be is above average to claim that title. Time to open the bottle and find out.

Watch out for the froth. Perła Chmielowa needs you to put the brakes on toward the end of the pour. There’s still a fair bit still in the bottle. After a couple of minutes, the huge head and settled into an undulating layer of froth, sitting on top of a dark amber. It’s surprisingly dark amber in colour. Most pilsner lagers a quite a lot paler.

They talk about the hops on the label, so lets see how it smells. For a pilsner, it smells good. Quite rich and malty. I can’t make out much hoppiness though. And in the time it took me to write this much further, the head has shrivelled into a thin layer.

How does it taste? First impressions are not bad, but not stunning either. There’s no flavour of course, it’s a pilsner lager. But it does have a full aftertaste. I’ve had a few gulps now, trying to figure it out, and it doesn’t seem to have that lagery “bite”. It has a bit of tanginess, but not the same sort of sharp “bite” as other pilsner lagers. The aftertaste with Perła Chmielowa walks into your mouth calmly. It tastes a little of malted barley, and yes, even I can make out the taste of those Lublin hops. It lingers for a while, and isn’t at all strong, rough or unpleasant.

What is there to like about Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer? I’m rather enjoying this one. Presumably it’s those Lublin hops that are doing the trick. The taste is so much more distinctive and interesting than the dross I’ve been enduring recently. It’s well made. It’s potent stuff at 6%. It’s easy to drink for all but the most bitter averse. I’ve also hardly burped at all, which means it’s not gassy. It’s rich tasting, and smooth drinking. This could be one of the best pilsner style beers I’ve tried.

Are there any downsides? Yes there are. It doesn’t really have much flavour, even though the taste of the hops does it’s best at compensating. One of the reasons that it’s so light and drinkable, is that it’s on the watery side. That means you don’t always feel like you’ve just taken a gulp, when you just have. The pilsner style won’t be to everyone’s taste either. I get the feeling that it wants to be an ale. If the boffins at Perła could come up with a bottle conditioned ale using their Lublin hops, the results could be outstanding. Sadly, we’ll never know as long as they limit themselves to the pilsner style.

To sum up, Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer is one of the best Polish beers I’ve tried. In fact it could be the best. It’s also one of the best lagers I’ve tried. If you can find it and you like lagers, this is one to try. It’s also worth a go for people like me who don’t normally go for pilsner style beers.  It deserves to take the place of the inferior big-name Polish beers that occupy shop and supermarket shelves across Britain.

Rating: 3.65

Have you tried Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer? What did you think of it? Can you offer up and translations, pronunciations, explanations, opinions, requests or recommendations? Then do please leave a message here!

Thanks for reading and check back here soon for another bottle of Polish beer.

Beer Review: Lech Pils

12 September, 2008

NEXT up from this batch of Polish beers is Lech Pils. What I presume is the cheaper version of smooth and pleasant Lech Premium. I’m hoping that this one will be at least as good. Or at least wash away the dreadful taste from yesterday’s Tatra Mocne.

Like with Lech Premium, these guys are very good at packaging. The green on gold looks superb. As usual though, I can’t understand anything written on it. If you can, do please leave a comment at the end of this post with translations and pronunciations.

With no gigantic promotion getting in the way, you’re free to admire the artwork on the two big roundels that dominate. There’s what looks like barley and hops. Nothing unusual there. But can someone explain what the two rams in the shield are all about?

Lech Pils roundel

In one small strip, there’s a barcode and some other details. Between the barcode and anti-drink-drive message are what look like this beer’s vital statistics. Let’s look closer.

Lech Pils barcode side of can

Yes, I think they are. The alcoholic volume appears to be a strong-ish 5.5%. That’s 0.3% more than that of Lech Premium. It must be said, Polish people like their beer strong. And, usually, foul tasting.

What else can I make out from the writing. Well, it contains 11.7% of something called “wag”. It’s by the unimaginatively named “Kompania Powowarska”, which probably translates into “Beer Company”. The name Poznan is in there too, so that’s probably where it’s from.

Over on the side of the can with no barcode are some more details. Let’s try and understand what this side is all about…

Lech Pils other side of can

This is just a guess, but I think this is the ‘story’ side of the can. Where they describe the history of Lech Pils. I wander what it says? My bet is on “We noticed that strong, tasteless lager is popular, so here’s another one”.

Elsewhere are some other bits and bobs that are harder for me to misinterpret. One of them is an information line telephone number. Another is that this is the ubiquitous 500 millilitre size of can. And the last is that this is going for 2.89zt. Is that a lot of Polish Zloty? Or is it pretty good value?

That’s the unnecessary description out of the way. Now it’s time to try and enjoy another Polish lager. How will it taste? Will it be as good as Lech Premium or as bad as the rest? I can’t put off the inevitable forever, so here goes…

It froths up nicely. But not uncontrollably. It fitted my pint-glass nicely with only one moment where I thought “it’s going to overflow”. A couple of minutes later, and it’s now settled do to a thick, creamy layer of head.

The colour isn’t quite as impressive. It’s not pale yellow like some. But it’s certainly not a rich, deep shade of amber. It’s somewhere in-between.

It smells quite alright. You can easily detect the malted barley. Normally you end up snorting the head up through your nostrils in an attempt to smell anything. Not this time. And it’s not too strong smelling either.

All well and good, but how does it taste? A few gulp in, and first impressions were good. Until a few moments later when the “bite” left me with an unpleasant aftertaste.

The flavour the same weak blend of malted barley that you get with all lagers that come in a light-coloured liquid. That is swiftly replaced by that lagery “bite” that tastes like malted barley and possibly some other blend of typical beer ingredients. Without a list of ingredients that I can understand, figuring out the taste is like walking around the house at night with the lights switched off. The aftertaste it leaves you with is much the same as that from other lagers. It’s strong and hangs around at the back of your mouth for a while. But not as long, or as strongly as the strong “mocne” lagers.

Is there anything to like about Lech Pils? Yes there is. The taste isn’t terrible. You can taste the ingredients, whatever they happen to be, much more so than most others. That makes it rich tasting. The bitter after taste isn’t excessively rough. And whatever your opinion on the rest of it, it’s well made enough to still be fairly easy to drink.

What is there to loath about Lech Pils? If you don’t love your lager, plenty. You won’t necessarily like it even if you do love pilsner lagers either. Sure it has a taste, but I’m not enjoying. The aftertaste it leaves you with is bad. Not terrible, just not particularly enjoyable. Why would you drink something that isn’t delicious when there’s so much choice on the shop shelves? Another complaint is how gassy it is. I could inflate a medium sized balloon with the gasses I was burping.

In summation, Lech Pils is a strong tasting, potent yet ultimately less-than-drinkable. It’s not as good as Lech Premium. If you have the choice, opt for its green-coloured sister brew. If you like strong tasting, well made lagers, you’ll like Lech Pils. This is one for the curious and the lager aficionado.

Rating: 1.8

Have you tried Lech Pils? What did you think of it? Can you offer any translations or pronunciations?

Leave your comments, opinions, requests and recommendations here please.

Beer Review: Holsten Pils

16 June, 2008

THESE days, there needs to be something special about a lager for me to spend any time on it. It would need to come from an unusual place. Or be brewed in an unusual way. Or, be a pilsner lager. That’s why I’ve chosen a can of the big-name Holsten Pils as today’s beer.

Holsten Pils front of can

I like the look of the can. It looks German. Which is handy, because that’s where it’s from. And the combination of green and yellow makes sure that you won’t confuse it with much else on the shop shelves.

Around the roundel logo is the name of, what I think is the brewery. Holsten-Brauerei AG is the name. And on the bottom of the roundel is the name of the place where it comes from. Hamburg in Germany in this case.

The logo features a silhouette of a knight on a horse, wielding a sward. And very large shield, bearing a large “H”. Whether the “H” refers to Hamburg or to Holsten is anyone’s guess. There’s a date on there too. 1879 means that it isn’t one of Europe’s oldest breweries, but old enough to have proved itself. Hopefully enough to justify the writing at the bottom of the can, which reads “Pure Brewing Excellence”.

The small-print is spread between two slim columns on different ‘sides’ of the can.

Holsten Pils join side of can

This one straddles what looks like the join between the start and end of the can printing. The bigger of the two blocks of text is one of the better descriptions I’ve seen on any can. They tell us about this lagers “unique and distinctive taste” from using more natural sugars in an “enhanced fermentation process”. How much to read into that, I’m not sure. But it apparently leads to “lower” “carbohydrates” than other lagers. Useful to know if you’re keeping an eye on your calories. I’ve got a feeling this means more to my female readers. So, girls, is that something you look for in a beer?

The other, little line of text simply confirms what we already knew. That this came from the Holsten brewery in Hamburg, Germany.

Over on the other side of the can, and all the usual small-print details are present.

Holsten Pils barcode side of can

This is the common 500 millilitre size of can. The alcoholic volume is the common 5%. It is best served chilled, as is common practice. It has the frequently seen 2.5 UK units of alcohol. And it contains the usual water, malted barley, yeast and hops. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.

With that out of the way, it’s time to crack open this can and answer some questions. Questions like is my taste for continental Pilsner lager really justified? And will some otherwise good flavour be ruined by the aluminium taste of the can?

Holsten Pils poured into a glass

The head can best be described as healthy. Nearly overflowing my pint glass, it died down over the next couple of minutes. But it did remain as a thick layer, so be ready for a froth moustache.

The colour is a light yellow colour. And there are fewer bubbles in there than with some lagers out there.

The smell isn’t bad at all. It has a much richer blend of ingredients in the smell. Hugely better than the generic and cheap smell from most lagers. I like it.

The taste is much the same as the smell. The taste has that ‘sharpness’ that reminds you that this is a lager. And that brings with it an overall bitterness that lingers on the back of your tongue.

But this being Holsten Pils, it’s more balanced and better blended than ordinary lagers. It isn’t dominated by the horrible bitterness that consumes its cheaper competitors. Instead, it’s balanced by the malted barley. Which, you can taste a hint of in this blend. For a lager, that’s excellent news.

Other things I liked where how crisp and refreshing it was. It wasn’t very gassy. And overall, it’s very drinkable. The pilsner reputation remains intact then?

Or does it? It may be better than most lagers on the market, but it’s still a lager. And that means it never will have the taste and flavour I want. Being less bad, doesn’t make something good.

The lagery taste and bitterness will still put people off. The taste and flavour will leave people me bored after a while because there simply isn’t enough of it. And what little there is, isn’t particularly interesting.

To sum up, Holsten Pils is above average in the way that peas can be above average. They might be peas with a good reputation and live up to that reputation. But they’re still peas. Holsten Pils is the same. It’s one of the better Pilsner style lagers I’ve tried. I don’t hate it in the way I hate most lagers, and there’s a lot to enjoy here. But it’s still a lager, so if you want complex, unusual flavours, you’re in the wrong place. This is one that most people will happily drink, in quantity, but not love.

Rating: 3.1

Holsten Pils is sold everywhere for next to nothing, so you’ve probably tried it. In which case, what did you think of it?

Do please leave your opinions, corrections, thoughts, ideas and suggestions here.

UPDATE: Holsten Pils in a bottle

Sold in a can almost everywhere, this bottle was hard to find. But, after quite liking the can, this long-necked bottle seemed worth a try. It has no back label and no more information on the wrap-around neck label. But any chance to avoid the aluminium taste of a can is welcomed.

Holsten Pils bottleHolsten Pils front labelHolsten Pils front neck labelHolsten Pils join on back of neck label

UPDATE May 2010:
Out of the blue, Holsten Pils has become one of my favourite curry beers. On its own there’s little reason to love it, but add it to your spicy curry and it is outstanding. That light drinkability and taste just works when it comes to explosive food. The £1 price and availability in nearly every off-license in town helps a lot too. This dependable lager is growing on me.


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