Beer Review: Zywiec Polish Prized Original Beer

Next stop on my tour of Polish beer is the easily pronounceable Zywiec.
Bottle of Zywiec Polish Prized Original Beer

I’m going to make a guess that one would pronounce it Zee-vi-ech. If you know the right was to say it, leave me a comment in the usual place.

Widely available in East End corner shops, off-licences and supermarkets, this is an inexpensive Polish lager beer. And one I think, looks a lot like Tyskie.
Zywiec and Tyskie side by side

The resemblance is remarkable. Yet each is from a different brewery. Is every bottle of Polish beer so similar?

Zywiec, we learn, dates back to 1856. Exactly like Tyskie, it is 5.6% and, in the UK at least, only comes in 500 millilitre bottles. Helpfully, the front label also indicates that 500 millilitres translates to 1 pint. Or, if you measure your drinks in fluid ounces (and who doesn’t), a 0.9 fl.oz. measurement is included. I don’t mean to knock this however. In fact, I actively encourage all brewers out there to include more than meaningless millilitre measurements.

Zywiec neck label

Perhaps my favourite aspect of the front label is where they allude to the winning of awards. Unlike the other brewers and their drinks, that hazily refer to their beer as “award winning”. Or “prize winning”. Or “champion”. No no. Zywiec has been “Awarded Medals”. What medals or for what, we are never told. But definitely the most Pol-glish way of expressing the concept.

Zywiec front label

Again, just like Tyskie, the rear label is an incomprehensible block of text in all known languages, dialects and accents. Studious examination of which didn’t reveal anything unusual.
Zywiec back label

In terms of smell, you can detect a weak malted barley odour. But one that is less premium than some others I have tried recently.

Poured into a glass, it looks like lager. There is also a surprisingly creamy and foamy head to it, but this dies down after a few minutes.
Zywiec poured into a glass with a big headZywiec poured into a glass with a small head

The taste had a slight bitterness. And the after taste was slightly sour. What little taste there was, certainly was not strong. The lager taste was thoroughly unexceptional. That said, it wasn’t a chore to drink and easy to reach the end of the bottle. The drinkability does redeem it somewhat.

But there’s no escaping that Zywiec was a bit disappointing. It’s not a bad drink for the money. It just doesn’t do anything special, new or different. And as such, I can’t give it high marks.

Rating: 2.75

Let me know what you thought of Zywiec in the comments. Have you tried anything else from the same brewer? And any tips for good Polish beers available here in the UK?

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51 Responses to “Beer Review: Zywiec Polish Prized Original Beer”

  1. papaja1992 Says:

    It’s pronounced like that:
    - ż is like in “garage”
    - y is like y in “myth”
    - w=v
    - ie is like “yeah”
    - c is like ts or tz (in German) or c in Latin.

    The medals are often shown on polish billboards – they’re mostly form UK and Ireland I think. I’m not an expert here, but I think they’re just normal awards ;)

  2. Jacek Says:

    Życies wins some precious awards before WWII. Today their brewing process is much shorter (for economic reasons) – and beer way less “awardable”
    [Information source: guide at Żywiec brewery museum, Żywiec, Poland]

  3. rtok88 Says:

    I think the correct prounciation is Zhiv-eats, with the zh like the sound of s in pleasure or leisure. The accent is on the first syllable. The little doo-dad mark above the z changes it from the normal English z sound to zh.

  4. Natalie Says:

    Just returned from Poland. Zywiec was my favorite beer-and I sampled many. It was smooth and very easy to drink down to the bottom of the glass or bottle. Its drinkability lends itself to the best beer to enjoy while people watching in any town square. Looking for pubs that have Zywiec on tap here in the states.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    zywieck is pronounced like
    shiv yeck

  6. Connie Snyder Says:

    My ancestors are from the Zywiec area. I just returned from
    there. It is pronounced. Jev-ee-itz, like the town it is produced
    and like the region it is from. Where can I buy it in the US?.

  7. Gerard Taylor Says:

    Its pronounced Sho-ve-ates, I spent some time in Zakopane in Poland (awesome place to go good skiing, cheap and crazily friendly people even when you can’t speak the language) and after many failed attempt to say it some cool locals taught us the way.

  8. Jason Says:

    Its enjoyable and is found all over Polish areas of NYC (such as greenpoint brooklyn) and in Chicago (another major Polish area…don’t remember exactly but had it at a few pubs prior to a bears game). What was it compared to in order to receive such a low rating? Its not perfect but the “original beer” reminds me more of drinkability rather than the complexity of an IPA or other trendy beer

  9. Peter Says:

    I can buy Zywiec beer right here in Jupiter Florida at a loacl distributor. $1.99 a bottle. Great beer.I drank it at a wedding in Olztynek this past October.

  10. prfx Says:

    Hahaha… I love the discussion on pronunciation and the lack of agreement…. I thought it was a very mediocre beer but their porter is excellent….

    here is my review:
    http://ciceronito.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/zywiec-original-beer-by-zywiec/

  11. Paul Washuta Says:

    It is pronounced “jiviets” (but the ‘j’ is pronounced softly as the french pronouce it in ‘bonjour’).

  12. Leo Says:

    Hi-

    The beer in Polish is pronounced zhy-vyetz. When I first came to Poland in 1984 as a student it was a malty pilsner rich in aromatic hops (“Lubelska,” the Polish variation of Czech “Saaz.”) Over the years the taste has changed. When Heineken became the main shareholder of the Zywiec brewery it changed even more–into a Euro macro lager–easy to consume,
    inoffensive to no one, but certainly not a beer worth bragging about.

    That said, it is certainly better than 99% of the swill brewed in Britain.

  13. Twats Says:

    Absolutely correct there, better than 99.9% of Britain’s draughts. I think the reviewer rates Budweiser.

  14. Cammy Says:

    Anyone who does not enjoy a cold, smooth and refreshing pint of Zywiec obiously likes the weak and tasteless beers – but I guess everyone has their preference. You say it doesn’t do anything special, new or different? What do you want it to do? Dance around you in circles?? haha. Tell me what those other beers do for you then.

  15. Paul P. Valtos Says:

    Where can I find a supplier of Zywiec umbrellas like the ones you see in out door cafes. Seems no one here in the states can supply them. Please let me know as I’m having some Polish friends over the end of this month.

  16. john brian Says:

    well this summer i was in cape hatterass north carolina and after a day on the beach in the surf i poured a bottle of zywiec into a frozen glass in the freezer and have to say it was delicious there is no other way to drink this and might add no better time ,by the way i bought the beer in toronto ontario its not available in montreal yet where i live, cheers

  17. C. Davis Says:

    I liked this beer too. It is on the low end. I have had better but less well known polish brews like ococim and harnas. If you like zywiec you will probably like these 2 brands too.

  18. Tyskie fan from Illinois, US Says:

    God bless you Tyskie, Gronie. 35 years old and it is the best brew I’ve had. Best on a summer evening when all four kids are in bed.

  19. Tyskie fan from Illinois, US Says:

    Or their awake, and in winter,fall, and spring….sorry for the rambling I’ve had four, One for each child.

  20. Bob from Pennsylvania, USA Says:

    Smooth, subtle, demure with integrety. No infatuation on my first bottle of zywiec, but after a while I was in love.

  21. sarah Says:

    Why are you on the search engines as a source for the zywiec umbrellas? If you know – share

  22. Midwest Mike Says:

    The reviewer was not impressed, but I was. I drank it with a meal. It was much better than the “swill” made in England and the USA. It is not supposed to be a fancy beer, but one that is good with a nice meal.

  23. Jim Says:

    This beer is great and its the favorite beer now of myself and my friends. We are not experts but you don’t need to be when you taste a really good beer like Zywiec. Everyone that we introduce to this beer loves it and becomes a convert along with us. So all you people who drink coors light and all the rest of that crap, its obvious you don’t have a clue.

  24. Lou Says:

    Had the privlege of tasting this beer recently. Great clean taste with a very unique aroma. It has an expensive “taste quality” but the price is very reasonable.

    Please…..don’t even mention Coors, or Bud or any other American Lager in the same sentence as Zywiec!

  25. JP Says:

    I have to say after stumbling onto this beer in the UK, I am a fan! Great lager taste, smooth, not bitter, and very clean. I drank it alongside a Carlsberg, which is a mostly smooth beer, and the Zywiec was head and shoulders better. Very crisp and finishes well with no aftertaste.

  26. Ned Says:

    I cannot believe that the reviewer has such a downer on Polish larger. When you compare these to the crap that passes for beer in the UK which sell in their millions these largers are like gold. I can highly recommend Warka, Zywiec and Tyskie they are all great.

  27. Change(s) and Prosperity « i like fishes Says:

    [...] it happens and tonight, Fishes is drinking her way into 2011 with some tall bottles of Zywiec and a nice Polish twist on the annual Prosperity soup. [...]

  28. Mark Says:

    This one stands out in the cooler at the store by me because every other single bottle beer is US$4-9, but Zyweic……US$1.99 for 22oz. Beats cheap American beer.

  29. the conoisseur Says:

    tyskie & zyweic are both sold in my local offy & have been for a few
    years – & i like them (they’re cheap)

    but wtf ? – both polish
    – both 5.6% vol
    – nearly identical

    i suspect they are brewed in the same barrel

  30. Djkatelyn Says:

    I’m currently in Poland and had a few Zyweics pints today while waiting for my laundry! Found it went down a treat as it was a warm day, didn’t realise it was 5.6% though but soon felt the affects! Will defiantly have it again. It was on tap though so probably nicer than in a bottle!

  31. Dave Says:

    The pronounciation is:
    Z as the S in pleasure
    Y as the I in sin
    W as the V in very good
    I as EE in three
    E as the E in bet
    C as TS in lots
    -Yes boys this is fucking good Polish beer.

  32. Q*Bert Says:

    This is a lovely lager, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it!

  33. mattski Says:

    Zwyiec is a beautiful beer, our reviewer ought to try it again.

  34. Mick Mikovich Says:

    It is one of the defest ales you can drink for the barbecues!!

  35. Dennis C. Ryan Says:

    Try their “porter” (dark) beer, but be careful. It does down
    “smooooth,” but the higher alcohol content hits like a hammer.

    A Polish-American friend turned me on to Zywiec porter. The first one went down so well I accepted a second. After the second one, I had trouble getting out of the chair!

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Drink it reguarly.
    Brok is another polish brew which is ok.

  37. Mariusz K Says:

    Well I’m Polish and for what I can tell Zywiec is one of the best beers
    I’ve ever tasted. If i would go to the offlicence and buy beer Zywiec would be my 1st pick followed by Okocim Monce, Okocim Pils, Lech and Zubr (list only includes Polish beer).

    Try to give Zyciew another chance?

  38. mmmmmmmm Says:

    Yes give Zywiec another chance. Okocim was good but it doesnt taste like it used to…..

  39. BeerSampler Says:

    Prounounced: Zhye-vets.

    The reviewer is a little harsh in my opinion. Zywiec Perhaps the best of the Polish bottled lagers. Drink it nice and cold.

  40. lawrence Says:

    http://www.thepolishvodkacompany.com
    all beer 99p per can
    zywiec okocim warka ect…

  41. Anonymous Says:

    One of my top 5 beers. They jacked up the price a little too much because of the popularity but it’s as good as all the carpathian lagers(which are the best i think) like Kozel, Staropramen, Tyskie, Zubr. Alot of the beers have a pilsner bite quality while having the body of a lager. Niech Zyje Polska!

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Any one who has a problem with this beer must be a “beer snob”. Ask someone who speaks Polish how to pronounce it.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    At first it is not Lager but Pilsner, second this beer win a lot of medals In beer competition not only in pl but mostly in Germany. So it mean it is really good beer. If you give a poor score, maybe you should start rating juice?

  44. stacey Says:

    Zywiec pronunciation. The z with the line above it is pronounced like a j. The y is pronounced like a u. The w is pronounced like a v. And the c after a vowel is pronounced like a ts. Altogether it sounds like juviets.

  45. kris Says:

    Proper Pronounciation is: Zeevyetz gut the first Z should be spelt as in -ge in the garage. Żywiec is found bit of crap in Poland, I know what Im talking about cause Im from here, trust me. All the mass produced todays polish beers are crap due to synthetic way of trigging the process be done much to fast. The only exclusion of that dishonour might be bottled Okocim Mocne which is really fine

  46. Anonymous Says:

    just purchased some of this polish tipple and by jove its good, much nicer than your carling/fosters etc;

  47. AndreMaria Says:

    I found this beer on a trip to Poland in October 2011 with my son. We had 2 goals find the best pierogies in Poland and the best beer in Poland. Zywiec Porter (pronounced zhi-vee-itz) is by far my fatvrioe Polish beer! Luckily for me and you it can be found at Total Wine here in Jacksonville, FL and elsewhere. Look for it as single bottles, not 6 packs. A real treat for those like me that like a tasty dark beer and a bargain as well for $2 a half liter bottle. Find it and enjoy it!

  48. Anonymous Says:

    Steve Says:
    Buy it at BJ’s rt 110 Farmingdale, NY by the case.

  49. Lee Says:

    Great beer and a whopping 5.6 % don’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. Je-vee-ets is bang on.

  50. Lee Says:

    *doesn’t

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