I’VE had mixed results with Polish beer. Some have been between alright and drinkable. Whilst the “Mocne” strong Polish lagers have been between terrible and revolting. The shops around here are full of them, and Polish beers are some of the most popular on the blog. So, I’ve ended up with a couple more cans of mysterious Polish beer. Mysterious, because I can’t understand anything on them. Yet here is the first of this batch of Polish beers: Harnas from Browar Okocim.
As always, do please leave your translations at the end of the post. Help with how to pronounce the names is always interesting too. Especially how the people who left comments after my review of Żywiec all suggested different pronunciations. Never having let a lack of talent stop me, here goes with my inevitably flawed interpretation of what’s printed on the can.
The big graphic logo features someone I think looks like a Native American Indian. But why would there be one on a can of Polish beer? Answers as to who the gentleman wielding the axe and wearing the big hat is, in the comments at the end of the post please.
I can’t fault the look of the thing. It all looks very trendy and up to date. I’m also guessing that this can is featuring a promotion or competition. Perhaps won by some writing under the wring pull. As usual, I have no idea. It does look exciting though.
On one ‘side’ of the can is some interesting looking writing. But what does it say? It could be the vital statistics.
The 500 ml is unmistakable. This does look like the regular big size of can, after all. There’s also that sensible anti-drink-drive symbol I remember seeing on other Polish beers.
Above all of those is a block of Polish language writing. This is going to be tricky. Fortunately, the first thing written isn’t. It looks like the alcoholic volume, which is a rather high 5.7%. That must be about as high as it can go without becoming a “Mocne”.
Much of the rest of that block of text I can’t understand. Except for the last couple of parts. The “producent” appears to be the somewhat famous Carlsberg Polska. That’s one of those names that keeps turning up. At least it makes a change from InBev. Under that is what must be the place it comes from. Which appears to be Warszawa. Somewhere we know better as Warsaw.
That wasn’t the only ‘side’ of writing. There’s another. And this one looks much more boring.
This side seems to have the terms and conditions of the promotion. Whatever that promotion happens to be. It does give a web address though. And that address is www.piwoharnas.pl. Going there doesn’t answer many questions. I couldn’t find an English language section, and it plays annoying background sound-effects. I’m none the wiser about the chap printed on the front either. He’s everywhere on the website, and television advertisements apparently. Is he supposed to be a traditional Polish lumberjack?
Elsewhere on this ‘side’ of the can are a few other tiny details. One of which is the information line if you want to give them a call. That’s all I can say about the outside of the can. Time to open the can and answer some questions. Questions like have I won any prizes? What sort of beer is it? What does it taste like? I’ve literally no idea. Let’s draw some uninformed opinions.
If you pour it, watch out for that head. It fizzes up a treat, but the downside is, it takes half-a-dozen pours to make it fit into a pint glass. It does settle down to a reasonable layer of froth after a few minutes though. The impressiveness of the head isn’t quite matched by the liquid. It’s plain old amber, although not as anaemic as some.
It smells…. okay. You get a decent whiff of a lagery blend of things. I can make out some malted barley and perhaps some other things. But without an ingredients list (that I can understand), I’m at a loss to make much more sense of it. Either way, it’s not too strong, bad, or weak smelling. It smells generic and beer-y.
But how does it taste? A couple of gulps in, and it’s not bad. But not great either. I’m getting lagery tastes, but not terrible ones. The flavour is a fairly pleasant blend of malted barley. Then the “bite” rolls in. A few more gulps in, and that aftertaste is fast becoming nauseating. It’s not a particularly strong bitterness. Rather it’s the way it just lingers and lingers at the back of your mouth. About two-thirds of the way through, and any hint of flavour is a distant memory. Everything is now dominated by that lingering, bitter aftertaste. A “bite” that won’t let go.
If you buy this beer, what will you like about it? Well, if you like strong lager, you might like the “bite”. You might like how strong it is. You might like the hints of flavour. And you might like the lingering bitter aftertaste. To it’s credit, it isn’t at all gassy.
On the other hand, there are things you probably won’t like about it. The flavour and taste for example. Similar results can be achieved by placing a sweaty sock in your mouth. Also, if you happen to be a fan of strong, foul tasting lagers, you’ll be disappointed by how hard it is to find in the shops of United Kingdom.
To sum up, Okocim Harnas is a strong, foul tasting lager. Its redeeming feature is its strength, which eventually numbs you to the taste. It’s downsides are the way it tastes. Which is kind of important for a drink. Buy it if you want to wake up with a ghastly taste in your mouth.
Have you tried Okocim Harnas? What did you think of it? What reputation does it have in Poland? And can you translate anything on the can or bottle?
Do please leave your corrections, translations, opinions, thoughts, recommendations and requests here. And check my next post for another can of Polish beer.