YESTERDAY’S unexpectedly drinkable Perła Chmielowa, I’m rather looking forward to my next Polish beer. Fortunately, I don’t have long to wait. That’s because here in front of me is a bottle of Leżajsk Beer. Actually it isn’t. The ‘Z’ looking character in the name is supposed to have a sort of dash through it. Sadly, I couldn’t find that character on my computer, so I’ve substituted it for a ‘Z’ with a dot on top of it. Polish speakers, have I made a huge gaff? Undeterred by this, here is the bottle.
The bottle is dull and brown. The labels are bright and white. It looks cheap-ish.
The neck label doesn’t say anything about the beer. It doesn’t say much at all really. What it does have is the crest logo, featuring a crown, barley, hops and the letter ‘L’. It also has what must be the established date, in the form of “Premium Polonia A.D. 1525″. That’s a long time ago. About as far back as any Polish beer I’ve tried so far.
The roundel that is the front label does a good job. The border has those reassuring words “Product of Poland”. No imitation here. And clearly visible, under the vague word “Beer” are those all important vital statistics. This is the regular 500 ml size. And the alcoholic volume is a reasonably strong 5.5%. Which, in Poland, makes this weak. All bottles should have that on the front. It makes it sop much easier to know what you’re getting yourself in for.
This is a proper, imported bottle of beer. Hence, it has an ugly big sticker on one side.
This one was imported by the same people who imported yesterday’s bottle: BDD Limited. Their telephone number and North-West London address are on there, in case you want to get in touch. There’s no sign of their website though. Which, I learnt yesterday, was www.bdd.net. This big label also has a small list of ingredients. Why? Whatever the (probably regulatory) reason, the ones they list are water, malted barley and hops.
Fortunately, the proper back label hasn’t been dispensed with. This one even has some English writing, so we’re in luck. This one tells the story of how King Zygmunt Stary gave the rights to brew beer in Leżaysk all the way back in 1525. And that it’s now one of the most renowned beers in Poland, made from natural ingredients. All of which is splendid. Heritage is good. Natural ingredients are even better.
It doesn’t stop there. That’s because this one has an award. In transpires that Leżajsk Beer won a Gold Medal at the World Beer Championships. Well done chaps. I hope that translates into a tasty beer.
Time now to crack open this bottle. What will it taste like? How will it compare to the current Polish favourites? Let’s find out.
There’s no head to worry about. Within moments, what little there was has dissipated into a few patches of bubbles. Not very impressive. The colour makes up for the lack of head. It’s a good, deep shade of amber. No cheap, pale yellow here.
Maybe it’s my somewhat blocked nose, but I can’t smell much of an odour with Leżajsk Beer. Sniffing as hard as my huge, blocked nose will allow, and there are some weak odours hidden away in there. My untrained nostrils detected something like malted barley, and also something floral. Are my nostrils deceiving me? Or is there really something flowery about Leżajsk Beer? Now that would be a gigantic surprise. As always, leave your comments at the end of the post.
How does it taste? After a couple of gulps, in a word, it’s good. For a start, it has something I haven’t had for a while: flavour. It tastes a bit of crops and flowers. Which very smoothly turns into a full, light bitter aftertaste. That bitterness hardly lingers at all. Instead, it’s all very light, fresh and tasty. Leżajsk Beer, in my uninformed opinion, is the most ale-like of any Polish beer I’ve tried. I was afraid this would be another, boring lager. But it just isn’t.
If you buy Leżajsk Beer, what will you like about it? Or, more accurately, what do I enjoy about it? I like the flavour. I like the taste. I like how easy to drink it is. I like the quality and care with which it was made. You can tell when a beer was made with all the natural ingredients of a Pot Noodle. And this doesn’t taste anything like a pot of instant noodles. It tastes natural, which is more than you can say about any of the Polish “Mocne” beers. The last thing to say about Leżajsk Beer is that it isn’t gassy. There is a lot to like here.
What won’t you like about Leżajsk Beer? Or, what don’t I like about Leżajsk Beer? I get the feeling that it’s trying to be like an ale. That makes it a zillion times better than most Polish beers. But not as good as proper ales. It simply can’t match them for flavour and body. It’s also so light and drinkable, that it makes you think it’s on the watery side. Besides those minor complaints, the biggest problem is how hard it is to find. Unlike the big-name, yet disgusting Polish lagers, you just can’t find this easily. This one came on the recommendation of the woman at a Polish shop up in Wealdstone.
So what is Leżajsk Beer all about? This is the least lagery and most ale-like of any Polish beer that I’ve tried. It has flavour, tastes good and is very drinkable. None of which I expected to report about Leżajsk Beer. I didn’t think I would say this, but it tops even Perła Chmielowa. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my new favourite Polish beer. If you somehow find a bottle, it’s worth your time. If you’re weighing it up against a selection of fine ales, it won’t quite match the competition. Overall, very good.
Have you tried Leżajsk Beer? Can you offer up any translations, pronunciations or information? Then do please leave your comments, opinions, corrections, requests and recommendations here.