Beer Review: Piwowarska Żubr

IF ANYONE out there can translate what is printed on this can, then do please leave a message at the end of this post. That’s because this can has no English language whatsoever. Purchased from my local off-licence, I’m assuming that this 500 millilitre can is imported straight from an Eastern-Europe.

Piwoworska Żubr can

The ‘front’ of the can has a logo of an animal that looks like a bison. The big name prominently printed on the can is “Żubr”. At least I think that’s right. There’s what looks like a little dot above the letter “Z”, making at a Cyrillic character. Which I have no idea how to pronounce. If you know how to pronounce it, then leave a comment at the end of this post.

There’s a little red banner in the top-left corner. The word “Sugerowana” looks like the word “sugar”, so perhaps this is a low-calories brew? Also making some educated guesses of what else is on the front, Żubr probably is made of pure water and natural ingredients. The “1768” date is also probably significant. The word “Sponsor” also hints at the fact that the brewer of this beer sponsors something. What it is that they sponsor, I’m at a loss to explain.

Turning the can around, and on the barcode ‘side’, there’s a logo apparently relating to their sponsorship. Of something. There’s also a paragraph that happens to include the same words that are on the logo. So this paragraph probably says something about whatever it is, that they are sponsoring.

Piwoworska Żubr  barcode side of can

If you know what it is that they are sponsoring, you know what to do when you reach the comments box at the end of this post.

Turning the can around even further, and we reach what I think is the details ‘side’ of the can. Of those I can make out are the “500 ml”, recyclable aluminium and an information line. At least I think that that is what “Infolinia” means.

Piwowarska Żubr details side of can

There’s also an ingredients list. Not being able to understand ingredients lists even when they are in English, I attempt to make some sense of it. The first thing on there is 12%. 12% of what I don’t know. It’s a bit steep for the alcohol content. Next is “alk, 6,0% obj.” That has got to be the alcohol volume. Thanks to my Polish commenter’s on previous posts, I’m inclined to believe that this high 6% strength is indeed the alcohol volume. Reading on, and I think that the brewer is someone called Kompania Piwowarska SA. Is that right? And that they are from Poznań, which is in Poland. Something that answers a few of my questions about the origin of this can.

So this is another Polish beer. That puts it up against Tyskie, Zywiec and Lech. None of which were outstand, but some were pretty good. Expectations are modest then, heading into the taste test for Żubr. Not just that, but I don’t know if this will be a larger, a pilsner or any other type of beer. That makes this the biggest step into the unknown since I started reviewing beers on this blog.

Poured into a glass, and my hopes of quality are dashed by the light-golden colour of lager. The fizzy head then promptly dies away to accumulate in a little pool in the corner of the glass.

Piwowarska Żubr can poured into a glass

There’s quite a lot of bubbles rising to the surface, so it might be gassy. And the smell is… not one of complex fruit and hop aromas. Instead, it smells cheap. The less said about the smell then, the better.

A couple of gulps in and I’m becoming more and more certain that this is a ghastly high-strength lager. It tastes of light and watery malted barley with a lingering bitter and sour aftertaste. You won’t notice the taste however, because you’ll be concentrating on burping after every gulp.

It’s not totally without merit however. It is refreshing. And it is light in character. Although most of that will be down to how watery it is. What is in it’s favour is how easy to drink it is. If my translation is right, and it is 6% alcohol volume, then it is very drinkable for the strength.

Apart from that there isn’t much to redeem it. Compared to the other Polish beers and lagers I’ve tried, this is the worst of them all. No wander then, that Piwowarska don’t appear to be officially importing Żubr. The most frustrating this about all this is that Poland is producing a lot of different beers. But only the worst are making their way over to the UK. There must be better Polish beers out there.

To sum up, then, Piwowarska Żubr is a strong, but ultimately dire lager. If you want a strong yet reasonable quality lager, there are plenty of others to choose from. Many with writing you can understand. Try it if you’re curious about Polish lagers. Otherwise, choose something else from your off-licence shelf.

Rating: 1.95

Have you tried Piwowarska Żubr? What did you think?
Can you translate any of it, or explain what Żubr is all about?
Then do please leave a message!

UPDATED 13 Sept. 2008:

Knowing how popular Żubr is with my Polish readers, I managed to find it in bottled form. And it looks even better than the can does. If you can buy a bottle instead of a can, then do so. It usually tastes a bit better too. Here’s the pics…

Piwowarska Żubr bottlePiwowarska Żubr neck labelPiwowarska Żubr front labelPiwowarska Żubr back labelPiwowarska Żubr poured into a glass

Updated April 2010:

Thanks for all the comments! You’ve helped make this old ‘review’ one of the most interesting on the whole site.

Something I need to do is change my original verdict. You see, I’ve been warming to Żubr. It might not be the world’s most sophisticated ale, but it certainly is good with a curry. Quite simply a dependable, refreshing Pilsner style lager. Possibly even my favourite of the Polish lagers that fill our shops.

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39 Responses to “Beer Review: Piwowarska Żubr”

  1. Jacek Says:

    Żubr means “European bison”. Poland has small population of them in few reservoirs. Main brewery “Dojlidy”is in Białystok, near Biołowieża National Park – their main preservation site.
    http://www.kp.pl/eng/nasze_browary_dojlidy.html
    About Żubr read here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisent

    “Żubr” gallery
    http://www.zubry.com/tapety/galeria.php
    and look at theirs funny adverts:
    http://www.kp.pl/popup/reklamy_zubr-test.html
    http://www.kp.pl/piwo_zubr.html

    “Sugerowana cena” means “sugested price”
    I like Żubr.. must look closer at can – what that animal at bar code side means.

  2. papaja Says:

    First – there’s picture of better quality

    as Jacek wrote Żubr is a Bison-like animal which lives in Poland.

    Pronunciation:
    Ż – like second g in garage
    u – oo

    Browar Dojlidy Białystok – Dojlidy Brewery in Białystok (in which it was produced firstly, now I think it’s also produced in Poznań)

    Czysta woda – clean water

    Naturalne składniki – natural ingredients (funny, but in Poland we have a natural-ingredients-mania)

    Kompania Piwowarska (which means “Beer-making company” in free translation) is a sponsor of National Park of Białowieża (where the Żubrs live).

    The text in bottom – “Golden beer brew for 200 years of clean (!!) and natural ingredients. ”

    Unfortunately I’m not able to read text from your pictures. Polish Wikipedia says that this 12% is an extract (but it doesn’t say of what). It’s made of barley malt.

    The best thing of this beer is its advertisement, which made it very popular couple years ago:

    http://pl.youtube.com/watch?v=DZL3T-zVPUI

    “Żubr występuje w puszczy” means both “Żubr appears (lives) in wilderness” and “Żubr is performing in wilderness” (By wilderness I mean a old forest – I was forced to use dictionary, so the translation could not be perfect. ) This is one of my favourite commercials.

    In the advertisement you can see the forests of Białowieża 😉

    BTW If you think Ż is strange have a look at other polish letters and sounds:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_language#Orthography

  3. murdo Says:

    I realy liked this beer! i was passing a local corner shop and was interested in trying a diffent larger (i do this a lot) and came across ZUBR, OK if i were to rate the beer bases on my beer tasting skills it wouldnt get very high, but i have to say i found the beer light refreshing and a welcome change and at only £1 for a 500ml bottle i am not going to complain
    p.s i like to search new beers when i try then and i can not belive how little info there is on this beer on the net!

  4. curry karat Says:

    I just downed a Zubr….it totally rocks!!

  5. Dean Says:

    Does anybody know where in the United States I can purchase this beer? Thanks!

  6. Al Says:

    There is a large Polish community in my town. Żubr, Lech, Zywiec and Tyskie all all very enjoyable (strong) polish beers sold in quite a few shops for a pound a pop (so to speak). 😛

    I haven’t tried Warka, Tatra or Okocim yet (to name a few)…

  7. joe Says:

    Zubr is my favourite Polish lager by a mile. Slightly more alcohl content than others and it has a really crisp, clean aftertaste. Congratulations and thank you Dojlidy!

  8. jm Says:

    I tried Zubr and enjoyed it. It is strong…

  9. AA Help Says:

    Was introduced to this by a few of my polish neighbours and friends. And have to say that it beats anything else I’ve seen coming out of the breweries on these shores. Light, refreshing and leaves an extremeley pleasant aftermath. Thankyou Very Much to the Brewers… Nastrovia!!!!!

  10. AA Help Says:

    Forgot to say I will be trying other polish beers as well

  11. Charlotte Says:

    I like Zubr, as well as most of the other Polish beers in my local corner shop. It makes a change from the usual tasteless guff on tap in most pubs around here…

  12. Keith Says:

    As others have said, Zubr means bison. Drinkers may be familiar with Zubrovka which is Polish bison-grass vodka that has a blade of bison-grass in each bottle. An unkind colleague said the vodka tastes rather sour because the bison p*** on the grass.
    The 12% may refer to degrees balling, which many Eastern European countries used as their alcohol content before ABV had to be adopted when they joined the EU.
    I have tried various Polish beers, of which nearly all have been rather tastless and disappointing. Zubr had a hint of more flavour, but seems to be lacking in any significant amount of hops, as there is very little bitterness.

  13. shawn Says:

    Its a great beer in bottle form. I’ve really come to like it over the years.

  14. Derek Says:

    Just tried a can of it – my bison is looking to the right on the can I have – and it is gorgeous. I can’t figure out the alcohol % from my can but its not a weak one and if it is a 6% it’s incredibly smoooth. Yes, I will get this whenever I can get my hands on it

  15. chuck Says:

    wife’s polish, been to poland… this is much better than Tyskie, Zywiec, Lech and Okocim… Zubr was the one beer that I choose to smuggle home with me!
    although, Okocim would be my second favourite depsite that all the polaks I know that prefer Zywiec… Zywiec reminds me of molson or bud, barf!

  16. Jim Says:

    I’m in Poland for business; first time here. I stopped at a small store and asked for a couple of 500 ml cans of beer. The woman behind the counter gave me Tyskie and Zubr. Now back at the hotel, I’m having the Zubr as I write this. Not too bad. As Derek noted, the bison on my can faces to the right. Just for kicks I googled it as I had many of the same questions as the blogger (and am incredibly bored). Amazing what you can find on the web.

  17. munster Says:

    well i must say this is a great beer,i have tryed zywiec,lech,okocim and this is the best its not quite as strong as okocim but taste lovely and at £1.20 at my local store i cant arguie!

  18. sammy nasser Says:

    this beer is the finest that the whole of my mecca (pill) has to offer, i always buy it when im selling my ten bags in the beerbusters, with me being an arab i cannot understand polske, and often get confused when my clients (junkies) tell me to try smack, i say i deal not dabble, anyway if anyones after a place to hide their murdering swords, id suggest zubor, i tipped 3 litres of it onto a recentweapon i had to get rid of and within minutes it had melted, so i wouldnt suggest drinking it!

  19. munster Says:

    sammy you live in the terrorist capital of the uk dont u PILL NEWPORT??
    I NO YOUR SORT!!

  20. sammy nasser Says:

    i am not terrorist, i rebellion, we fight uk thugs who invade my homerland, afghans and i will have sweet revenge in the name of king abdullah the 83rd

  21. tom Says:

    żal mi was, polskie piwo dobre

  22. camron Says:

    in the UK saw this for 1… love it! whats the alcohol % 12 or 6?

  23. dan Says:

    my awesome local shop sells loads of polish beers like this , averaging between 5 to 8%, Zubr is 6%! you would definatley realise this when drinking it hah.
    i was also fascinated by the fact that i couldnt read the can so when i googled it this was the first page that came up, good work on such an informative page

  24. Tyskieman Says:

    Having travelled throughout Poland I’ve tried many Polish Beers. I’m a Tyskie fan but I think Zubr is even better. I have never seen it in the UK, where have you managed to get it?

  25. marc Says:

    well its been great to see some reveiws on polish beers. Ive really enjoyed most that ive drunk. Okocim is my top one. I personally think it tastes better and my local aldi used to flog it at £1 a500ml bottle which was great. Sadly they have stopped supplying it. Zubr is good too but i cant find any bottles locally so i do cans. I agree with who ever said zyweic is more like bud. Its ok but not my cup of tea. Does any one know where to get warka ive heard good things and fancy giving it a go. Well done to the blogger, more polish reveiws please!!!

  26. Ter Says:

    My guess is Zubr is Bison

  27. Jackson Riffe Says:

    Zubr means Bison, it is brewed in Bialystok. It is my favorite beer on Earth. It is not a cheap american brew or a crappy microbrew, it is a classic European beer in the truest sense. It doesn’t get much better than that. Wish I had one right now, I can find it in NY.

  28. Jackson Riffe Says:

    Warka is like Tatra, they are Malt Liquors.

  29. Jacques Says:

    You stated that ‘z’ with a dot diacritic is a Cyrillic letter. It most certainly is not. Polish uses the Roman alphabet with the addition of diacritics, never the Cyrillic alphabet. Also it is very difficult to explain how Żubr is pronounced in English. The letter ‘z’ has three variants in the Polish alphabet, best explained by a native speaker. Thankfully my lovely wife is Polish so I can pronounce this word passably well but anyone in the UK today should know at least one friendly Pole to help them out. Finally a Żubr is indeed a bison and Poland is blessed with a wide range of wonderful wildlife including bison, beavers, bears, lynx and moose.

  30. Ade Says:

    £1.29 a bottle its acracking accompaniamnet to a ruby…

  31. Liam Clarke Says:

    I’d rather drink my Mum’s piss than a can of that shit

  32. Magnum saltyballs Says:

    Yum yum, let me fondle your sister’s blifter

  33. Anonymous Says:

    love imported beer ,tried most of the ee beers but this zubr rocks !!!!

  34. Mike Says:

    Zubr is a fantastic beer/lager far supreme to that American trash Budweizer !!!!

  35. Kuba Says:

    I’ve giggled when I read your review, so thanks for that.

    I’m not surprised you didn’t like Żubr. Poland has a bunch of great craft beers, unfortunately only mass produced “euro lager” kind gets through as you’ve said. Lech/Tyskie/Okocim/Żubr/Żywiec is really nothing worth speaking of. Try to find eg. Ciechan Lagerowe (unfiltered but pasteurised so don’t be afraid of haziness) should be satisfying 6% ABV beer. Look for it if you can.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent beer. Just got delisted by the Ontario Liquor Control Board so not more imports into Ontario Canada. Pity. Wish I could drive to Buffalo to buy it.

  37. KUx Says:

    Anyone know how to get my hands on some in NYC?

  38. merrick Says:

    Okaz Natury translates as ‘specimen of nature’
    with the bison – so an aesthetic take on ‘real’ nature.
    I would describe this as cheerful and cheap.
    At 6% proof, useful as a porter / stout.

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