Archive for May 10th, 2008

Beer Review: Praga Czech Premium Lager

10 May, 2008

THE last Chech beer I tried was Ostravar. And I didn’t think much of it. It was good, but nothing special. So it’s with low expectations that I move on to Praga.

Praga Czech Premium Lager bottle

This 500 millilitre bottle was cheaply purchased from my local corner shop.

The neck label has the word “Pilsner” on it, which is a good start.

Praga Czech Premium Lager neck label

But all the labels are among the worst I’ve seen.

Praga Czech Premium Lager front label

That plain white background. It looks terrible. Not so much “Premium”. More “Economy” and “Cheap”. Remembering the saying that “It’s what’s inside that counts”, we shall press on. It could be a pleasant surprise, right?

The label does have an “Est” date of “1363”. In the corner, it mentions a volume of 5%, which is respectable. And at the very bottom, it tells us that this is a “Product of the Czech Republic”. And that means that this is an imported beer. Which works to its favour.

Over on the back label, and things don’t get much better.

Praga Czech Premium Lager back label

Giving it the benefit of the doubt, let’s read on.

Grabbing your attention is a red bar running across the middle of the label. And that bar features the text “The Award Winning Bohemian Pilsner”. This is award winning? Seriously? Maybe it’s worth giving a chance to after all.

The label continues by informing us that Bohemia is the origin of Pilsner. And that it is world renowned for the quality of its beer. And that comes as something of a shock. I didn’t even know that Bohemia was a place.

It continues by saying that Praga is an outstanding example of premium lager from the Bohemia region. So outstanding in fact, that it was voted number one 5% Pilsner at the Czech Brewing Industry Awards in both 1997 and 1999. Mind you, with only the likes of Ostravar to compete with, that couldn’t have been a particularly big mountain to climb.

There’s also a brief sentence informing us of the origin of Praga. Apparently, this comes from the Hostan brewery. And that it’s heritage dates back to 1363. A very long time indeed.

The ingredients list includes barley, malt and hops. Lastly, the producer is listed as a “Starobrno” from Brno in the Czech Republic.

It’s a hot evening here in London, so I need a refreshing beer. Time to see if Praga does the job.

In the glass, Praga has a decent, foamy head. And a deep, amber colour. Good start.

Praga Czech Premium Lager poured into glass

The smell is stronger than I was expecting. It’s of malted barley and hops – no surprise there. But at least it’s strong enough to identify. And not bad if you happen to like the smell of beer.

A couple of gulps in, and I must admit, Praga isn’t as bad I had been expecting. It has a pronounced, lingering bitter taste. Certainly more of a taste than I’d been expecting. Praga is also smooth. And sufficiently refreshing to cool me down on this unseasonably muggy day. And that’s something that makes it easy to drink.

So refreshing is it, that I’m practically ignoring the downsides to Praga. Which are that it’s a gassy old drink. And that there’s not much else to the taste apart from some bitterness. Apart from the bitterness, you can just about make out the malted barley, but this isn’t what you’d call full-flavoured. Not by a long way. And it gets worse. If, like me, you’re not keen on drinks that are mostly bitter, there’s not a lot here to like about Praga.

Praga then, is refreshing, especially if chilled. It’s also drinkable and has more of a bitter taste than you might expect. On the other hand, it’s more bitter than I like, and pretty dull and watery.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you want a refreshing pilsner lager after a day spent sweating your own weight in liquid. No, if you want flavours so full that they burst over the top of the bottle. Or if you don’t like bitter flavours.

Rating: 3.6

Have you tried Praga? What did you think?
Corrections, disagreements, ideas, suggestions and opinions to be left in the usual place.


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