Posts Tagged ‘okocim’

Beer Review: Okocim Harnas

10 September, 2008

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.

At least I recognise the name Okocim. That was the name behind the adequate Okocim and the less-than-adequate Okocim Mocne. Let’s see what they’ve cooked up in the forms of Harnas.

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.

Okocim Harnas info side of can

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.

Okocim Harnas barcode side of can

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.

Rating: 1.35

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.

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Beer Review: Okocim Mocne

15 May, 2008

REMEMBER my review of above-average Polish beer Okocim? Well, I’ve since found a corner shop that sells it in bottles instead of cans. And, best of all, they sell a more exciting version: Okocim Mocne

Okocim Mocne bottle

This bottle cost a premium £1.59 pence. So let’s hope it’s worth it.

The bottle and labels have a much darker and more foreboding look. My first thought was that this must be a stout or a dark ale. But after closer inspection, I think the word “Mocne” must simply mean “strong”. Or, if you’re Polish, “medium”.

The neck label kicks things off with pictures of what look like medals. But they’re much too small to read. It does start the stylish gold on black colour scheme which I like though.

Okocim Mocne neck label

The main, front label is where the imagery gets serious. An eagle symbolises one thing: power. And this label uses it to great effect.

Okocim Mocne front label

Most of the text at the top, I can’t read. Apart from the part that says “Strong Beer”. Under the Okocim Mocne logo and name, is that year again: 1845. A year that makes Okocim one of Polands most established beers.

At the bottom of the label are all the usual details. That this was brewed by Okocim in Poland. That the bottle holds 500 millilitres. And the alcohol volume. Except that little detail is worth re-reading. And that’s because it’s 7%. That brings this beer into the territory of strong ales. And nearly up to the level of the strong ciders and lagers. If it’s even moderately drinkable then, it will be doing very well indeed compared to its UK counterparts.

Just like the can, the back label doesn’t give up many details.

Okocim Mocne back label

There’s a UK consumer helpline number. And a Polish Infolinia number. There is also a set of ingredients in both Polish and English. For the very curious, the ingredients are water, hops, malt and yeast. Just like the can, the Polish side of the ingredients mentions the name of European brewing colossus, Carlsberg. Plus, there’s a mention of the town, or city, I really don’t know, called Brzesko. What is that place like? It sounds delightful. Lastly, there’s a web address of www.okocim.pl, but you might need to look for links to the English language pages.

In the glass, I’m a little disappointed to see that it’s not as black as crude oil. But rather, it’s light shade of amber. It’s also big-headed. But wait a few moments, and it settles down to a reasonable, creamy layer. There are a lot of bubbles in there, so I’m preparing myself for a lot of burping.

Okocim Mocne poured into a glass

The smell is not exactly distinctive. Yeast, hops and malted barley are the order of the day. But its strength makes it slightly more pungent than usual.

Three gulps in, and I’m already burping. This is a gassy beer. It’s also surprisingly full-bodied. No wateriness at all. The strong flavour that hit me was familiar. It reminded me of the mega-strong lagers. It’s a sharp, tangy bitterness. And it lingers on the back of your tongue. Different in character to the hoppy bitterness of ales. I don’t like the taste, but at least you get a lot of it.

It could be refreshing if you serve it cold. And, for the strength, it’s easy to drink. At least compared to the super-high-strength lagers on the market.

But it’s hard to see past the downsides. Okocim Mocne will make you burp. And the taste is as pleasant as blue tongue disease. If getting drunk is your aim, then there’s no reason to choose this, over the cheaper, and more potent lagers (9% vol.) and ciders (7.5% – 8.4% vol.) on the market.

I truly wanted to like Okocim Mocne. Especially after enjoying Okocim Beer. But there is simply no reason for you to spend your money on this beer.

Rating: 1.8

Have you tried Okocim Mocne? What did you think?
What does “Mocne” mean? Can you translate anything else from the labels? What reputation does it have in Poland? Are other strong Polish beers better? Or worse? If you have any corrections, additions, opinions, suggestions or ideas, do please leave them in the comments.

Beer Review: Okocim

11 May, 2008

EXCELLENT news, chaps. I’ve found another Polish beer on sale at a local shop. And this one is a can of Okocim.

Okocim can

Okacim faces a competition of mediocrity. The other Polish beers of Tyskie, Zywiec, Lech and Żubr weren’t bad. Some were slightly better than others, but all we

re simply vehicles for the consumption of alcohol cheaply and easily. And nothing more. Will Okocim buck the trend? Somehow, I doubt it.

Okocim looks more like Żubr or Lech than it does Tyskie or Zywiec. On it’s green background, the gold coloured text and smattering of red afford it a premium and traditional quality.

The top of the roundel has the English text “Traditional Polish Taste”. That’s’ unusual. Why is it written in English instead of Polish?

The logo is unintentionally hilarious. It features a goat and a huge glass of beer. It’s not clear if the goat wants to drink the glass, or hump it. Either outcome would make me laugh.

The large banner cutting through the roundel has the name “OKOCIM”. No unusual Polish text this time. Above it are the words “Polish Tradition” and below it “A.D. 1845”. That’s good. It gives it heritage. More established than Zywiec and the rest, but not as established as Tyskie.

Under that, is the word “Beer”. Rather obvious. But I’m just glad it doesn’t say “Lager”. Under that, in very small writing are some important details. Namely, that this is 500 millilitres. And that is has a volume of 5.5%. Okocim, then, is going to be strong stuff.

Below that are what look like medals. Does anyone know if they actually are? Did Okocim win any prizes, or are they just there to look like medals?

Running around the bottom of the roundel, we can spot the name of the brewery. The unimaginative Okocim Brewery, Poland. Again though, why is this all in English? Especially when the big, prominent word at the bottom of the can proudly announces “IMPORTED”.

On the barcode side of the can, the puzzle continues. There is both a Polish “Infolinia” phone number. And a UK telephone number for a “Consumer Helpline”. This particular can doesn’t know if it’s Polish or British. Time to read on for more clues.

Okocim barcode side of can

The ingredients side of the can has everything, but in only two languages: Polish and English.

Okocim ingredients side of can

If you happen to be interested in such things, the ingredients are water, malted barley and hops. Absolutely nothing unusual there.

The address of the brewer tells us that this was brewed somewhere called Brzesko in Poland. Sounds delightful. The web address is given as www.okocim.pl. Which, as you’d expect from a website ending in “.pl”, takes you to a Polish language website. Some clever navigations however, does led us to http://www.okocim.pl/okocim.htm. Which even I can understand.

The English ingredients text doesn’t solve the riddle of why this Polish beer has everything written in English. Reading the Polish language ingredients list does give us a clue. You see, this seems to have been produced by Carlsberg Polska. The Polish part of the brewing goliath, Carlsberg. And that would explain why this can is more international than, say, Żubr.

In the glass, Okocim has a thick, frothy head. It also has a light amber colour. An lots and lots of bubbles rising to the surface.

Okocim poured into a glass

The smell is a blend of malted barley and hops. Yes, I know, that how nearly every beer smells. This one does have a blend that is, in some way, different to most others. I like it. It’s got a rich and premium quality to the way it smells.

The taste is not bad. But not great either. The main taste you’ll notice, is the dry bitterness. That bitterness lingers briefly, but doesn’t stick around for long. The malted barley is barely noticeable.

The positives are that Okocim is very easy to drink. And that the blend of tastes and flavours is pretty good quality. You’d have to be very sensitive indeed to find any of it offensive to your palate. Served chilled, Okocim could also be quite refreshing. There’s also a couple of things that are different about it, when compared to it’s Polish counterparts. The blend of flavours being one. And the higher strength being another.

The negatives, though, are that Okocim is cheap and watery. It’s easy to drink because it has the consistency of water. And water that is too sparkling at that. Which means that it’s rather gassy. It’s also lacking much real flavour, but that could be down to my preference from strong ales from the around Britain.

How can I sum up Okocim? Simply, it’s stronger and marginally better tasting than the other Polish beers on sale here in the UK. If you want taste and flavour, it’s not much better than the other Polish beers. But if you want a strong, drinkable beer, this fits the bill nicely.

Rating: 3.6

Have you tried Okocim? Are you Polish? How do you pronounce the name Okocim? What sort of reputation does it have in Poland?
If you have any corrections, opinions, suggestions, ideas or insults, then leave them in the comments box below.

UPDATE: And this is the rather more handsome looking bottle of Okocim. The only difference as far as the label is concerned is the English language paragraph proclaiming its 160 year heritage, fine ingredients and Polish recipe.

Okocim bottleOkocim back of bottle


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