Posts Tagged ‘polish’

Beer Review: Karmi Malínowa Pasja

16 April, 2009

WHILST up Stoke Newington way in North London, I was delighted to find an Eastern European shop that I hadn’t yet plundered for beer. The shop in question was Kołos Supermarket. And for £1.09 pence, one of the bottles beers I bought was this. At least I thought it was a beer at the time. Now, I’m not so sure. Whatever it is, it’s called Karmi and has the words Malínowa Pasja on it. Polish translators, I’m going to need your help again, big time. Translations at the end of this post please.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja bottle

It’s a curvy and mysterious looking bottle, isn’t it? Not quite as much as Brahma Premium Lager, but there’s something feminine about it. There’s a picture of, and colour of raspberry. Is this one of the girls beers that commenter’s warned me about in earlier Polish beer posts?

The neck-label doesn’t exactly answer any questions.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja neck wrapper and label

The bottle top is of the “Twist Off” variety. Is that a clue? I’m beginning to think this isn’t a real beer.

The front-label doesn’t help either.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja front label

If you know what Karmi or Malínowa Pasja mean, do please leave a comment. All I can glean from the front-label is that the contents might have something to do with raspberries. I may have made a huge mistake buying this bottle.

Thanks to my almost complete lack of understanding of the Polish language, the back-label, which would be helpful, isn’t. Translators, this is where I need you most.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja back label

Mind you, language has never been a barrier before with all the other Polish beers I’ve tried. So let’s press on and see what I can understand, or misunderstand.

The writing at the top says something about taste. But I’ve no idea what. The first word at the start of the ingredients list is, I think, ‘beer’. Which is a relief. Unfortunately, I think it’s telling me that it has an alcoholic volume of 0.5%. Oh dear.

It might be almost non-alcoholic, but it was made by Carlsberg Polska in Warszawa/Warsaw. And Carlsberg are a brewer. So it’s nearly a proper beer.

Elsewhere on the label, it says, I think, that it is a small 400ml bottle. And that they have a website at www.karmi.pl. A quick look reveals that it is a low-alcoholic drink for women. And that there are Karmi’s is lots of other flavours.

Okay, I admit it. I made a big mistake when I grabbed this out of the cooler in the Kołos Supermarket. It’s not a real beer at all, but a literally fruity low-alcohol drink for women. Despite this, you’ve got to be wondering… what does it taste like? Is it any good? And, if you are a woman, should you buy some? Lets find out.

Karmi Malinowa Pasja poured into a glass

The surprises start right away. That is not a coloured glass bottle. The bottle is transparent. It’s the beer that is that deep, reddish black colour. Once in the glass, the drink has a decent layer of head. If it were a real beer, I’d be impressed by it. What’s more, that head is noticeably red in colour.

What does it smell of? As you’ve guessed by now, it smells of raspberry. Not the natural sort. They don’t really smell of anything. This smells the same chemically way that it looks.

How does it taste? It tastes strange. On the back label, I saw a word that looked like the word ‘syrup’. Well, that’s what Karmi Malínowa Pasja is like. It tastes mildly of raspberry, in a synthetic and syrupy way. After that flavour, there is a tiny, slightly bitter alcoholic kick of an aftertaste. Not much. Just enough to remind you that it’s there.

What am I enjoying about Karmi Malínowa Pasja? I like how it’s unlike anything I’ve ever drank before. I like how easy it is to drink. Although it’s not got to try hard with only 0.5% alcoholic volume. I like how rich, smooth and un-gassy it is. And as a product, it looks good.

There are however, a few downsides to Karmi Malínowa Pasja. It might taste vaguely of raspberry. But it also tastes awful. It’s like drinking a concoction of chemicals that taste a little bit like a berry. Like hearing your favourite song ruined by someone doing karaoke. What it’s aiming for is admirable enough, but the ingredients are all wrong. It could get away with it if it were light and crisp. But in this heavy, thick, syrupy form it is atrocious. To cap it all off, with so little alcohol, it’s not even a real beer.

To sum up, Karmi Malínowa Pasja is a disgusting drink aimed, presumably, at women with no taste. If you see a woman drinking this stuff, avoid her. She has a terrible taste in drink. If, like me, you spot this in a shop refrigerator and hope that it will be an interesting Polish beer, you’d be right. But only just. And you’d wish you weren’t.

Rating: 2.1

Can you translate anything? What reputation does Karmi Malínowa Pasja have in Poland? Do women there actually drink this stuff? What do you think of it? Do please leave all your translations, pronunciations, corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy here in the comments.

Beer Review: Classic Gingers Beer

13 October, 2008

POLAND has given me a great many beers to try. Many barely adequate. Some quite good. And all very ordinary. This one looks a little different though. Here is Classic Gingers Beer, procured from the same Polish shop on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green as yesterday’s Bosman Full.

It’s a strange looking thing. It doesn’t look much like a bottle of beer at all. I thought it was a bottle of non-alcoholic normal ginger beer until I studied the back label closely.

The neck label didn’t help a great deal.

Classic Gingers Beer neck label

The name, for a start, doesn’t make any sense. “Gingers Beer” for example is like a bad translation. Which is probably what it is. Yet again, I’m stumped by the Polish language. To the translators out there, do please leave your translations and pronunciations in the comments at the end of this post. This neck label has the words “Oryginalny Imbirowy Smak”.

The front label is even more unusual.

Classic Gingers Beer front label

What, for heavens sake, is a tornado doing on the label of ginger beer? Who thought that was a good idea? Is it so strong and gingery that it will taste like a whirlwind in your mouth?

The logo doesn’t answer many questions either. Is the name of the brewer “Classic”? Or “Gingers”? Helpfully, there is some English language writing on it. In the red at the bottom are the same Polish words as from the neck label. At the top however are the words “Original Ginger Taste”. Is that the same as what the Polish text says? Either way, the only thing you learn from the front label is that it tastes gingery.

Will the back label answer any questions? Only if you can read Polish.

Classic Gingers Beer back label

Not one to be deterred by a lack of linguistic ability, I press on. The first thing you notice is the anti-drink-drive warning message. Normally these get in the way. But this time, it’s what told me that this was an alcoholic ginger beer. If it wasn’t for that message, I would have put the bottle back in the cooler and gone back to looking for beer.

The big block of text is Polish. But that’s never stopped me trying to figure out a few words before. And this one starts with a welcome combination of words and numbers. I think this ginger beer has a moderate 4.1% alcoholic volume. The polish word for ‘pasteurised’ makes an appearance. And this seems to be the produce of Kompania Piwowarska SA. So that’s who brewed this beer. The same Kompania Piwowarska that cooked up the average Żubr and below average Dębowe Mocne. This isn’t a Mocne. And it isn’t a typical lager. So I’m keeping an open mind with Gingers Beer.

What else is there on the label? That it’s 500ml. That they have a Polish telephone information line. And that it goes for 2,95 zl. Besides that, there’s nothing on there to talk about. And that means it’s time for the fun bit.

What will Classic Gingers Beer taste like? Should you buy one? Let’s get pouring.

What’s wrong with this picture? Besides the terrible camera that I’m stuck with, you might have noticed the mammoth head. Fortunately, it was dying down very quickly, so after a few more pours, it looked like this.

After a few more moments, there was no head at all. It looked as if it had never had a head. The colour is a slightly gingery shade of amber. I think it looks like a cheap non-alcoholic ginger beer. The sort you could buy from a supermarket in a huge plastic bottle. It smells the same way too. It smells gingery. But not the rich and strong ginger smell you get from the high-quality ginger beers. This one smells like the cheap ginger beer you buy from supermarkets to go with the sausage rolls when you have your cousin’s family visiting.

But what does it taste like? It tastes a lot like cheap, non-alcoholic ginger beer too. If you’ve drank the widely available, mass produced ginger beer you can find in supermarkets and corner shops across the land, then you’ll know what to expect. It’s a fizzy drink that tastes mildly of ginger.

So, it has a flavour of ginger. What about aftertaste? Yes, it has a mild one of those, too. It leaves your mouth tasting mildly bitter and, of course, of ginger.

Is there any sign at all of the alcohol? Just about. At only 4.1%, it was never going to be easy to find, but it is there. Barely. Somewhere around the point where you gulp it down, you receive a mild kick. A bit like being kicked by one of those tiny Lego men. You can barely feel it, but it’s there. For something similar, try adding a tiny amount of vodka to regular non-alcoholic ginger beer. I dare say the experience will be identical to drinking this stuff.

What are the positives? It is light, refreshing and very easy to drink. In exactly the same way as soft-drink ginger beer is. It is beer, sort of, and beer with a flavour. That flavour is pleasant too. There’s no unpleasant aftertaste or “bite” to worry even the squeamish among you. This is the sort of beer a responsible adult would let their young teenage children drink at meals and special occasions. It also scores points for being unusual and distinctive.

What of the downsides? It’s weak. And the beer-ness is so hidden by the soft-drink flavour, that it may as well be al alcopop. That head is a pain. You’ll either end up with froth on your table or half-empty glasses when it’s died down. A chore if you’re trying to pour it out for an extended family of house guests. Next, although it has flavour and taste, neither will satisfy the demands of the ale drinker. But then, what will? Lastly, it’s a bit on the gassy side.

Where does all of this leave Classic Gingers Beer? In an unusual niche is my answer. If you want an alcoholic ginger beer, this could be the one for you. It’s also one to look out for if you like unusual beers. Or the tangy flavour that only ginger can provide. I liked the thing. I think it has a time and a place and is worth keeping a bottle of it around for the right moment.

The nearest rival that I can think of, apart from non-alcoholic ginger beer, is Badger Blandford Fly Premium Ale. That tasted of ginger. But it was also an ale. It had the same flavour, but it delivered it in an entirely different way. That was an ale that had a ginger flavour. This is a ginger beer that happens to be alcoholic. It is nice though.

Rating: 3.15

Have you tried Classic Gingers Beer? What did you think of it? Where can you buy it in your area? And can you help with the translations?

Do please leave your opinions, information, advice, corrections, translations, pronunciations, requests and recommendations here please.

Beer Review: Bosman Full

12 October, 2008

WHAT do you normally do when you feel like having a high quality bottle of ale? If you’re like me, what you actually end up with is a can of Polish lager. That’s right, I’ve done it again. This time, from a Polish shop on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green.

What can I say about the front? Well, at the top it says “Premium Quality”. But as we know, that doesn’t mean much. The roundel looks bold an interesting. There’s a picture of a ship. Which must mean something good. There are some medals at the bottom of the roundel. But I don’t think they are real medals. Below them, we learn that this has been going “Since 1948″. Which is a respectable run.

Also into the roundel are the Polish words “Browar Szszecin”. Which could be the name of the brewer. Once again, if anyone can translate or provide pronunciations, do please leave a comment at the end of the post. I for one would love to know how you’re supposed to pronounce Szszecin.

Around the can on the side that doesn’t have a barcode are some words and symbols.

Bosman Full non-barcode side of can

The symbol is familiar enough. That’s the anti-drink drive symbol you find on all Polish drinks. But the words “Od Lat Ten Sam Wyjątkowy Smak” are beyond me. “Smak” rings a bell from other cans and bottles, but translators, here is your chance to shine.

Over on the side of the can with the barcode are a few more bits and pieces.

Bosman Full barcode side of can

One of which is an information telephone line number. Another is that this is the usual 500ml size of can. Much of the rest is in Polish, but I’m going to give it a go anyway. I think it’s telling us that it has an alcoholic volume of 5.7%. Which is high. But thankfully lower than the universally revolting “Mocne” lagers.

A little further along is a word that I think is “pasteurised”. Under a line of writing that I can’t make head nor tail of are some familiar names. It transpires that this is another Polish beer produced by Carlsberg Polska. And that is comes from Warszawa. Or, as we call it, Warsaw.

There’s a web address too, which is www.bosman.pl. It all looked lovely when I visited. At least the half which I could see did. That’s because my screen resolution was too low to get any further. Which left me stranded at the front page, unable to get any further. Some tweaking of settings, and I’m in. It’s another Flash heavy corporate website with annoying background sound effects. There didn’t seem to be an English language version either.

Never mind, that final detail rounds the description part of this review off. There really is barely anything to say about the exterior of this can. Time now to sample the contents within. As a reminder, Perła and Leżajsk set the standard as my favourite Polish beers so far. The big name Tyskie, Żywiec, Okocim, Żubr and Lech were all adequate and all the “Mocne” ones were outrageously bad. Let’s see how Bosman Full compares.

Pouring is drama free. There’s no insane head to contend with. Everything looks good so far. It has a deep amber colour and a head. Albeit a rather inconsistent one.

How does it smell? It smells fresh and a bit lagery. Maybe it’s because of today’s warm weather, but I like it. Most lagers have some take on the malted barley mixture in their smell. This one is as richly malty as any lager I’ve sniffed. It deserves brownie points for that.

What does it taste like? A couple of gulps in, and I like it. It has a good, honest flavour of malted barley. Not a strong one. And it’s far from sophisticated or complex. But it is modestly pleasant. That down to earth flavour is replaced by the gentlest of bitter aftertastes. It lingers for a while. And if you piled on the pints of this stuff, it would make your mouth start to feel unpleasant. But it’s much lighter than lots of others, and the bitterness won’t bother even the squeamish drinkers out there.

So what am I enjoying about Bosman Full? In short, a surprising amount. It’s light, fresh and crisp. At least mine is after it spent the day in the fridge. It has a light, down to earth, generic beer flavour. Which, if you just want a cold beer, hits the spot nicely. It also doesn’t seem to be a Pilsner style lager. I thought it would be, and that it would be terrible. But is just isn’t. There’s no foul, lagery “bite”. It has a teeny bit of flavour. It’s smooth and not gassy at all. If, like me, you like beer and don’t much care for yet another boring lager, this is one to add to your shopping list.

What aren’t I enjoying about Bosman Full? If you’re going to compare it against European beers and British ales, it won’t match them for flavour. Nor will it match them for distinctiveness, character and complexity. It is a generic, boring, ordinary beer. If it were a haircut, it would be a side parting. It’s also hard to find in the UK, although that’s been changing.

How can I sum up Bosman Full? It’s considerably better than I expected. It’s much better than most Polish beers I’ve tried. Is it better than Perła and Leżajsk? I’d say it’s about even with them. Or just a notch below. It’s a bit like Bangla Premium Beer too by being a good all-rounder beer. If you like lager and you like it Pilsner style, you might not like Bosman Full. If you like interesting and unusual beers, ales and stouts, Bosman Full could be too boring for you. If you just want a good, ordinary beer, Bosman Full fits the bill nicely. Just drink it before it reaches room temperature. Mine has just warmed up and tastes worse for it.

Rating: 3.6

Lastly, I’ll keep a look out for Bosman Full in bottle form. Expect a quick update at the bottom of this post with photos if I find one.

Have you tried Bosman Full? What did you think of it?

Do please leave in the comments below your corrections, opinions, thoughts, requests, recommendations and places to buy this stuff overseas.

Beer Review: Leżajsk Beer

26 September, 2008

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.

Lezaysk Beer bottle

The bottle is dull and brown. The labels are bright and white. It looks cheap-ish.

Lezaysk Beer neck label

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.

Lezaysk Beer front label

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.

Lezaysk Beer importer label

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.

Lezaysk Beer back label

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.

Lezaysk Beer poured

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.

Rating: 4.05

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.

Beer Review: Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer

25 September, 2008

AFTER yesterday’s ghastly Kosovan Birra Peja Pilsner, it’s back to the relative safety of a Polish beer. This one appears to be called Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer. You don’t find it very easily. Unlike the big-name beers from Poland, I could only find this one in a Polish shop up in Wealdstone.

It doesn’t look at all bad. It’s the combination of green coloured labels and green bottle glass. It does it every time.

The neck label doesn’t tell us much though.

All it has is the logo and some hop imagery. The logo looks like a shield with an animal, possibly a goat, either tending to, or fighting some hops. I’m as baffled as you are.

The main front label is an oddly shaped roundel. But that doesn’t stop it from looking good and doing a nice job.

Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer front label

The top border says “Since 1846″. Which makes it one of the oldest Polish brewers out there. It has some smaller words hugging the inside of the border too. These ones say “Traditional Recipe”, “Best Quality” and “Excellent Taste”. All the usual marketing drivel, but it tells us that this bottle is aimed at people who read English.

Under the big “PERŁA” banner is another word. What does “Chmielowa” mean? It looks like it’s part of the beer name, which is why I’ve titled this review “Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer“. But I could easily be wrong. What you can’t mistake, however, is the little description around the bottom border. This one simply describes it as “Premium Pils Beer”.

As well as straightforward little descriptions, it also has something to say about where it’s come from. Which, as a clueless outsides, I love to read. This one says “Brewed and Bottled by Perła – Browary Lubelskie S.A.”. That’s a welcome sight because it doesn’t ring a bell. Nearly every other Polish beer I’ve tried has had printed somewhere on it a big-name like Żywiec or Tyskie.

Another welcome sight is the upfront vital statistics. No need to peer around onto the back label with this bottle. That’s because it’s 500 ml size and strong, 6% alcoholic volume are right there for you to see. All in all, it’s a good piece of design.

It’s a similar story on the back label as well. And we don’t even have to struggle with the Polish language. It’s all there in English. Which begs the question, why isn’t it more widely available in this country?

Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer back label

The top of the label has what look like medals. But they’re too small to read what they’re for.

Then the description starts. And this is a particularly interesting one about hops. That’s interesting because you normally only find this sort of thing on bottles of English ale. This one informs us that this Perła Chmielowa has acquired it’s “excellent taste and distinctive aroma” to the local Lublin hops. Never having seen that name on any other bottle, I’m intrigued to discover what this one is going to taste like. Not to mention amazed that I’m evening thinking that about a Polish beer.

Next down the label is the full technical description. They describe it as “Full Light Beer”. Whatever that means. Also that it’s “Pasteurised”. They then go even further by letting us know that it contains E-300. Blimey, that’s a lot of detail. Sadly, it means it’s not going to be a wholly natural experience. Not with that great big ‘E’ number.

The ingredients they mention include water, barley, malt and hops. No surprise there. They also recommend that you keep it in a cool and dark place.

There’s a full address on there, in case you want to write them a letter or visit them. They really do come from Lublin. The web address they provide is www.perla.pl. It’s nice enough, but yet another Flashy website that looks more like a television commercial than a website. One interesting thing I did see on the website, amoung the dodgy translations, was that Perła Chmielowa seems to mean “Hop Perl”. Is that right? Polish readers, as usual do please leave a comment at the end of this post with your translations, pronunciations and thoughts about what reputation this has in Poland.

Under all of that is the name of the importer. In this case, it’s BDD Limited from North-West London. For the curious, the website they have on the label is at www.bdd.net. An imported whom, according to their website, is the biggest supplier of Polish beers in the UK. It appears I’ve them to thank for the Polish beers I’ve been enjoying and hating over the last few months.

The big question is, will Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer be the best Polish beer I’ve tried so far? All it needs to be is above average to claim that title. Time to open the bottle and find out.

Watch out for the froth. Perła Chmielowa needs you to put the brakes on toward the end of the pour. There’s still a fair bit still in the bottle. After a couple of minutes, the huge head and settled into an undulating layer of froth, sitting on top of a dark amber. It’s surprisingly dark amber in colour. Most pilsner lagers a quite a lot paler.

They talk about the hops on the label, so lets see how it smells. For a pilsner, it smells good. Quite rich and malty. I can’t make out much hoppiness though. And in the time it took me to write this much further, the head has shrivelled into a thin layer.

How does it taste? First impressions are not bad, but not stunning either. There’s no flavour of course, it’s a pilsner lager. But it does have a full aftertaste. I’ve had a few gulps now, trying to figure it out, and it doesn’t seem to have that lagery “bite”. It has a bit of tanginess, but not the same sort of sharp “bite” as other pilsner lagers. The aftertaste with Perła Chmielowa walks into your mouth calmly. It tastes a little of malted barley, and yes, even I can make out the taste of those Lublin hops. It lingers for a while, and isn’t at all strong, rough or unpleasant.

What is there to like about Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer? I’m rather enjoying this one. Presumably it’s those Lublin hops that are doing the trick. The taste is so much more distinctive and interesting than the dross I’ve been enduring recently. It’s well made. It’s potent stuff at 6%. It’s easy to drink for all but the most bitter averse. I’ve also hardly burped at all, which means it’s not gassy. It’s rich tasting, and smooth drinking. This could be one of the best pilsner style beers I’ve tried.

Are there any downsides? Yes there are. It doesn’t really have much flavour, even though the taste of the hops does it’s best at compensating. One of the reasons that it’s so light and drinkable, is that it’s on the watery side. That means you don’t always feel like you’ve just taken a gulp, when you just have. The pilsner style won’t be to everyone’s taste either. I get the feeling that it wants to be an ale. If the boffins at Perła could come up with a bottle conditioned ale using their Lublin hops, the results could be outstanding. Sadly, we’ll never know as long as they limit themselves to the pilsner style.

To sum up, Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer is one of the best Polish beers I’ve tried. In fact it could be the best. It’s also one of the best lagers I’ve tried. If you can find it and you like lagers, this is one to try. It’s also worth a go for people like me who don’t normally go for pilsner style beers.  It deserves to take the place of the inferior big-name Polish beers that occupy shop and supermarket shelves across Britain.

Rating: 3.65

Have you tried Perła Chmielowa Premium Pils Beer? What did you think of it? Can you offer up and translations, pronunciations, explanations, opinions, requests or recommendations? Then do please leave a message here!

Thanks for reading and check back here soon for another bottle of Polish beer.

Beer Review: Lech Pils

12 September, 2008

NEXT up from this batch of Polish beers is Lech Pils. What I presume is the cheaper version of smooth and pleasant Lech Premium. I’m hoping that this one will be at least as good. Or at least wash away the dreadful taste from yesterday’s Tatra Mocne.

Like with Lech Premium, these guys are very good at packaging. The green on gold looks superb. As usual though, I can’t understand anything written on it. If you can, do please leave a comment at the end of this post with translations and pronunciations.

With no gigantic promotion getting in the way, you’re free to admire the artwork on the two big roundels that dominate. There’s what looks like barley and hops. Nothing unusual there. But can someone explain what the two rams in the shield are all about?

Lech Pils roundel

In one small strip, there’s a barcode and some other details. Between the barcode and anti-drink-drive message are what look like this beer’s vital statistics. Let’s look closer.

Lech Pils barcode side of can

Yes, I think they are. The alcoholic volume appears to be a strong-ish 5.5%. That’s 0.3% more than that of Lech Premium. It must be said, Polish people like their beer strong. And, usually, foul tasting.

What else can I make out from the writing. Well, it contains 11.7% of something called “wag”. It’s by the unimaginatively named “Kompania Powowarska”, which probably translates into “Beer Company”. The name Poznan is in there too, so that’s probably where it’s from.

Over on the side of the can with no barcode are some more details. Let’s try and understand what this side is all about…

Lech Pils other side of can

This is just a guess, but I think this is the ‘story’ side of the can. Where they describe the history of Lech Pils. I wander what it says? My bet is on “We noticed that strong, tasteless lager is popular, so here’s another one”.

Elsewhere are some other bits and bobs that are harder for me to misinterpret. One of them is an information line telephone number. Another is that this is the ubiquitous 500 millilitre size of can. And the last is that this is going for 2.89zt. Is that a lot of Polish Zloty? Or is it pretty good value?

That’s the unnecessary description out of the way. Now it’s time to try and enjoy another Polish lager. How will it taste? Will it be as good as Lech Premium or as bad as the rest? I can’t put off the inevitable forever, so here goes…

It froths up nicely. But not uncontrollably. It fitted my pint-glass nicely with only one moment where I thought “it’s going to overflow”. A couple of minutes later, and it’s now settled do to a thick, creamy layer of head.

The colour isn’t quite as impressive. It’s not pale yellow like some. But it’s certainly not a rich, deep shade of amber. It’s somewhere in-between.

It smells quite alright. You can easily detect the malted barley. Normally you end up snorting the head up through your nostrils in an attempt to smell anything. Not this time. And it’s not too strong smelling either.

All well and good, but how does it taste? A few gulp in, and first impressions were good. Until a few moments later when the “bite” left me with an unpleasant aftertaste.

The flavour the same weak blend of malted barley that you get with all lagers that come in a light-coloured liquid. That is swiftly replaced by that lagery “bite” that tastes like malted barley and possibly some other blend of typical beer ingredients. Without a list of ingredients that I can understand, figuring out the taste is like walking around the house at night with the lights switched off. The aftertaste it leaves you with is much the same as that from other lagers. It’s strong and hangs around at the back of your mouth for a while. But not as long, or as strongly as the strong “mocne” lagers.

Is there anything to like about Lech Pils? Yes there is. The taste isn’t terrible. You can taste the ingredients, whatever they happen to be, much more so than most others. That makes it rich tasting. The bitter after taste isn’t excessively rough. And whatever your opinion on the rest of it, it’s well made enough to still be fairly easy to drink.

What is there to loath about Lech Pils? If you don’t love your lager, plenty. You won’t necessarily like it even if you do love pilsner lagers either. Sure it has a taste, but I’m not enjoying. The aftertaste it leaves you with is bad. Not terrible, just not particularly enjoyable. Why would you drink something that isn’t delicious when there’s so much choice on the shop shelves? Another complaint is how gassy it is. I could inflate a medium sized balloon with the gasses I was burping.

In summation, Lech Pils is a strong tasting, potent yet ultimately less-than-drinkable. It’s not as good as Lech Premium. If you have the choice, opt for its green-coloured sister brew. If you like strong tasting, well made lagers, you’ll like Lech Pils. This is one for the curious and the lager aficionado.

Rating: 1.8

Have you tried Lech Pils? What did you think of it? Can you offer any translations or pronunciations?

Leave your comments, opinions, requests and recommendations here please.

Beer Review: Żywiec Tatra Mocne

11 September, 2008

NEXT up from this batch of Polish beers is a can of Tatra Mocne from none other than Grupa Żywiec. The same chaps as those behind the Żywiec Polish Prized Original Beer that you can find in every off-license and supermarket in London. That beer was a perfectly adequate lager. But this is a strong “Mocne”. That pits it against the barely fit for human consumption Okocim Mocne, Dębowe Mocne and Warka Strong. To beat them, all this needs to be is better than ghastly. Here then, is a Żywiec Tatra Mocne.

Just like yesterday’s Okocim Harnas, the whole thing is covered in some sort of promotion. And again, I have little idea what’s written on it. It looks like a competition to win tickets, digital cameras and, oddly, chairs. As usual, all translations, pronunciations and opinions from Polish people are very welcome.

In the big roundel, things look a little familiar. That fellow with the hat and pipe looks a tiny bit similar to the lumberjack chap from Okocim Harnas. Am I imagining it?

Żywiec Tatra Mocne logo

There are a couple medals too. One of them has the year 1856. I don’t know what the awards are. But I’m pleased that it has them. The bottom of the can is all obscured by pictures of mountains and the promotional details. But around the top border, I’m going to take a wild guess at what it says. Does it say something about it being “strong with character”? Translators, you know what to do.

This can actually has different things printed on four ‘sides’. Unlike most others that repeat the same thing over and over again. On the ‘back’, this one has what looks like the full terms and conditions for the promotion.

Żywiec Tatra Mocne back of can

Next is the barcode ‘side’ of the can.

Żywiec Tatra Mocne barcode side of can

As well as the barcode, it has a sensibly large anti-drink-drive message. It also has all the details about the brewer. Which, it tells us, is Grupa Żywiec from Żywiec. There’s a telephone number and email address for those who need such details. They have a website address too which is www.tatra.pl. There didn’t seem to be an English language section when I checked it. What I could work out is that there’s also a regular Tatra and you can get them in bottled form too.

On the other ‘side’ of the can are the vital statistics. At least that’s what I think they are. It’s hard to be sure when you can’t understand the language.

Żywiec Tatra Mocne other side of can

First among the details is that this is the ever-popular 500ml size. Next is the only other detail I can understand; the alcoholic volume. Which appears to be 7%. Without a doubt, this is a “mocne”.

Normally, my expectations from a Polish “mocne” beer are low. Very low. But this one talks about awards and character. Will it be better than the rest? How will it taste? Should you try one? It’s time to find out.

There’s no problem with an insane head this time. Everything is under control with a layer small of froth which quickly dissipates. What you’re left with is a dark amber drink with a patch of bubbles floating on the surface.

How does it smell? Horribly artificial. This is one of the most synthetic and unpleasant smelling I’ve ever smelt. I think they were aiming to make it smell of a blend of malted barley and other beer ingredients. What they created instead was a smell of industrial cleaning fluid.

How does it taste? Almost as bad as the smell. Three gulps in, and my tongue is being assaulted by the strongest and least palatable flavours and tastes since the gone-off milk I accidentally had a few weeks ago. What hits you is a building taste of chemicals. This taste culminate in a bitter, lingering aftertaste. It lingers, seemingly forever. The whole experience is like drinking something as natural as Red Bull.

Is there anything to like about Żywiec Tatra Mocne? Well, it has bags of taste, I can give it that. It’s not too gassy. And it’s an effective means of rapidly becoming sloshed. It’s so strong that you soon forget how bad it tastes.

What are you liable to hate about Żywiec Tatra Mocne? Much of it. It has about the worst taste I’ve ever witnessed. It tastes rancid and artificial. I’ve had Tesco Value ready meals that taste more natural.

To sum up, Żywiec Tatra Mocne is strong yet synthetic and horrifyingly bad. Try it if you must, but you can easily choose something better. If you need a strong lager, then Skol Super or Carlsberg Special Brew taste marginally better, are cheaper and easier to find, and are two-percent stronger. If you want taste and drinkability, then almost every other can or bottle on the shop shelf will be better. There is no reason for you to suffer this monstrosity.

Rating: 0.7

Have you tried Żywiec Tatra Mocne? What did you think of it? Can you translate anything?

Do please leave your translations, corrections, opinions, requests and recommendations here. And check my next post for another Polish beer.

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.

Beer Review: Warka Strong

22 May, 2008

REMEMBER yesterday’s look at the surprisingly just-above-average Warka? This time, I’m testing its stronger stable mate. The appropriately named Warka Strong.

Warka Strong can

This can looks completely different. The gold, black and red colour scheme looks just like Strongbow Cider. But whatever lurks inside this can, isn’t going to be cider.

The front of the can has words such as “Unikalny Smak” and “Najwyższa Jakość”. To the translators out there, any help with this can, would be great. On that subject, thank you to everyone who has been commenting and translating the last few Polish beers I’ve had a look at. It’s good to hear from people who actually know what they’re talking about.

Back to the can, the top has a picture of someone. Presumably named “Kazimierez Pułaski”. Not the creator of this beer, nor the head brewer. According to Wikipedia, Kazimierez Pułaski was a member of Poland’s nobility, and a military commander in the 18th century. Not an obvious choice for the front of a beer can. And not the first. Broughton put an Old Jock on their strong Scottish ale.

Also on the front, is the proudly displayed “Warka” name. And the 1478 date. As that predates even Kazimierez Pułaski by a few hundred years, its doubtful Poland’s medieval population enjoyed Strong. What is undeniable on the front of the can is the alcoholic volume. 7% puts it in “Mocneterritory. Hopefully, Strong won’t be as appalling as other strong Polish beers.

Just like Warka, there’s a side dedicated to a big, sideways logo. Useful if you like to store your cans on their sides. Presumably.

Warka Strong other side of can

Whilst the barcode and ingredients are thrown together on their own ‘side’ of the can.

Warka Strong barcode side of can

I say thrown, because some text is orientated one way. While other bits of text are at 90-degrees. Would it be so hard to put them all the same way around?

Don’t bother trying to read it from the photo. My six year-old camera phone is as useless at seeing the mess in front of it, as a Burmese dictatorship.

Starting with the ingredients list… I can’t understand any of it. But the Grupa Żywiec name is still there. Reminding us that this beer comes from good stock. There’s also a consumer telephone line and an email address. So that you can tell them what you think of Strong. If you do do that, just remember to leave a comment at the end of this post, as I’d be interested to know what you think of this too.

Also on there are some other bits and pieces. There’s the usual “500 ml”. And a web address, which is www.strong.com.pl. A nice, but completely Polish language website.

Now it’s time to see. Is Strong any good? And is it better than what I’m expecting? Which isn’t very much at all.

In a glass, Strong is a darker shade of yellow than I was expecting. It also has practically no head. Just a few bubbles here and there. Nothing like Warka.

Warka Strong poured into a glass

The smell is different too. But equally indistinctive. Just a bland blend of malted barley and some other unidentifiable things. And it smells as natural as energy drink.

After a few gulps, the taste is… nearly as bad as I feared. It’s dominated by an awful, synthetic bitter taste. Similar to the “Mocne” beers of a few days ago. But it’s not quite as undrinkable as they were. Strong tones it down almost enough to be bearable.

Even though I’d rather taste the flavours of the river Thames, you can’t accuse Strong of lacking flavour. The Strong name is true in every sense with this beer. And if you serve it cold enough, and I mean ice-cold, the horrendous taste is hidden enough for you to call this beer clean, crisp and refreshing.

The downsides, start with the taste and flavour. You can’t escape the fact that Strong tastes like a blend of chemicals. And what’s more, that taste lingers at the back of your tongue. On top of that, it’s gassy.

Strong is not an easily drinkable, sophisticated beer. It’s the disappointing black sheep of the Warka and Żywiec family. But, it is marginally better than those other Polish strong beers. If you live in the Britain, there are better, stronger and cheaper lagers with which to get sozzled. If you live in Poland, try Strong before deciding which strong beer is your favourite.

Rating: 1.9

UPDATE: Better than the other Polish strong/mocne beers? What was I thinking? A few hours after posting, and sanity has (partly) returned. This chemistry set inspired flavour is much worse than either “Mocne”. Hence…
New Rating: 0.5

Have you tried Warka Strong? Can you help translate or explain anything?
What did you think of Strong? Is there anyone out there who actually likes this stuff?
Corrections, comments, thoughts, opinions, ideas, suggestions and information in the usual place please.

Beer Review: Żywiec Warka

21 May, 2008

THANKS to a local corner shop, I’m able to bring you two more reviews of what will probably be more awful Polish beer. This one has the name “Warka”. It also has the words “Uznany Smak”, but I haven’t a clue what that means. Is the brewer called “Warka” and this is their “Uznany Smak” type of beer? Translations gladly received in the comments section at the end of this post.

Warka can

The can looks pretty good. More western in it’s appearance than some of the other Polish beers. There’s some illustrations of hops. And what looks like a castle with the date “A.D.1478″. That’s some heritage behind it.

Despite not knowing any Polish language, even I can make sense of some of the words. Around the top of the roundel for instance, there’s something about traditional beer. And around the bottom of the roundel, something else about an original recipe.

But as for the rest of it, I’m utterly stumped. What does “Uznany Smak” mean? And what do the other words on the front of the can mean?

Turning the can around, we find what must be an ingredients list. With no English, the only things I can make out on there are the size of the can, which is 500 millilitres. And the alcoholic volume, which is an impressive 5.7%. Not bad.

Warka ingredients side of can

Around on the barcode side, and there’s still nothing in English. That fact hasn’t stopped us so far, so let’s press on regardless.

Warka barcode side of can

Apart from the barcode. And the “500 ml”, which of course we already knew, the most noticeable thing is a message. I can’t understand what it say, but I believe it’s something about not drinking and driving. The sign featuring car keys and a cross through them gives that much away. And it’s something of a surprise. Here in the UK, drinking and driving is no longer a big cultural problem. Is it still a problem on Poland? Leave your thoughts in the comments at the end of the post please.

Under the drink drive warning, there’s an address. And it starts off with some good news. It turns out that Warka Uznany Smak is made by Grupa Żywiec S.A. That must be the same Żywiec behind Żywiec Prized Original Beer. And it’s good news because Żywiec wasn’t awful. It was average. And average is better than what I initially expected.

Also on there is an information line telephone number. There’s an email address. And there’s a web address which is www.warka.com.pl. But be warned, in the few moments I spent there, I couldn’t find any links to an English language version.

Looking around the can a little more, and there’s another logo side to it.

Warka other side of can

Instead of the classic roundel logo, this side has the “Warka” name sideways up the side of the can. Something that reminds me of Lech.

With nothing left for me to mis-translate, it’s time to crack open this can, and sample the contents within.

In the glass, Warka is yellow. And fizzy. But it does have a better head than I expected. Maybe this won’t be so bad afterall?

Warka poured from the can

The smell is hardly worth describing. It’s just a cheap malted barley aroma. Utterly unremarkable.

A few gulps in though, and I’m rewarded by something that is surprisingly drinkable. The taste is barely present. The only things I noticed about the taste was a mild bitterness and sourness that doesn’t linger for long. Taste and flavour then, is not what Warka is about.

Where Warka stands out is everything apart from taste and flavour. What it has, is a clean, crisp and refreshing character. And these things make it one of the easiest beers to drink of such high-strength that I’ve seen.

It’s not without downsides however. The head comes from the fizziness. And the fizziness makes it gassy. And the gassiness, predictably, will make you burp. My main gripe with Warka, is that it’s almost tasteless. Body, taste and flavour are almost totally absent. It’s nearly like drinking water. Or Tesco Value Lager. Which, as it happens, are almost identical when it comes to flavour.

Warka Uznany Smak, despite the funny name, is one of the better Polish beers I’ve tried. But that isn’t saying much. Compared to everything else on the market, this is around average. If you want to test the Polish beers being sold here in Britain, Warka is worth a try.

Rating: 2.75

Have you tried this beer? What did you think? Can you translate any of what’s on the can? What reputation does this have in Poland?
Leave your thoughts, corrections, translations, ideas, suggestions and everything else below.

UPDATED 13 Sept. 2008:

I know how popular Warka is, so here’s an update to this post. I managed to track down a bottle. Which, as we all know, is better than anything from a can. There seems to be some sort of promotion being advertised. But I can’t tell what it’s all about. Pics are below. I also tidied up the (Żywiec) title of the post.

Warka bottleWarka neck labelWarka front labelWarka back labelWarka poured from a bottle

Beer Review: Karpackie Premium Lager Beer

18 May, 2008

CHEAP Polish lager has swamped the shops of Britain in recent months. Undoubtedly to quench the thirst of the hundreds of thousands of Polish tradesmen and builders here. This one is Karpackie Premium Lager Beer. This 500 millilitre bottle cost £1.19 pence from an off-licence corner shop, but this one is much harder to find than its competitors.

Karpackie Premium Lager Beer bottle

First impressions are that it’s trying to be a Tyskie or a Zywiec. Put them next to each other on the shop shelf, and from a distance, they look almost identical.

The neck label is uninspiring. White background, gold colour scheme and the “Karpackie Premium” logo. And nothing else.

Karpackie Premium Lager Beer neck label

Maybe the main front label is better?

Karpackie Premium Lager Beer front label

No. It isn’t. On the same, plain white background, is simply a bigger version of the same logo. It’s not all bad though. It is a fairly good logo. Even if I have no idea what the implements it features are. There are some Polish words around the edge too. One of which I think means “Tradition” or “Traditional”. And other which I think say “Original Polish Recipe”. Is that right? Can anyone out there translate what’s on this bottle? If so, do please leave a message in the comments box at the end of this post.

That’s nearly everything on the front label. But not if you look very closely. That’s because there is some tiny writing on it. And that writing tells us that this 500 millilitre bottle has a 5% volume. A fact so unremarkable, you can understand why it’s the size of our national defence budget.

Like the back labels of most Polish beers, it’s hard to learn very much from it.

Karpackie Premium Lager Beer back label

It does have the odd bit of English writing however. The ingredients are water, malted barley and hops. It also tells us, in English, the size (500 ml) and volume (5%). That’s it’s best stored in a cool place. And that Karpackie comes from a company called Van Pur SA, who are from the Polish city of Warszawa. A city you might know as Warsaw.

Apart from that, there’s nothing else to read on there. That means it’s time to see if Karpackie Premium Lager Beer is any good. I doubt it will be. So the new question is, will it be better than the other Polish lagers? I doubt that too.

Poured briskly into the glass, a thick head froths up. But give it just a few seconds, and it’ll die down to a thin and inconsistent little layer of bubbles.

Karpackie Premium Lager Beer poured into a glass

The colour is a weak shade of yellow. It certainly doesn’t shout flavour and body. And it’s visibly full of bubbles, which hardly inspires confidence. Still, this is a lager. Low quality is a pre-requisite.

The smell is… lagery. Fortunately, not the ghastly ultra-strength lagers or “Mocne” style smell. Karpackie smells of cheap lager. That is to say, a mild blend of malted barley and hops.

The taste is equally as unimpressive. Apart from the lagery bitter and sourness, there’s nothing else in there. The bitter isn’t strong. The sourness doesn’t linger for long. And there’s no complex blend. This is a straightforward cheap lager.

In its favour, it is refreshing if you have it cold. And, it’s easy to drink.

On the other hand, it’s easy to drink because it’s so watery. And that means it’s got no body. And that it’s not full-flavoured. Karpackie is, sadly, yet another cheap and sub-standard lager.

If you want a good lager, then try one of Karpackie’s competitors. You’re not short of choice. You’d have to be very short on choice or taste to choose this over something better.

Rating: 0.9

Have you tried Karpackie? What did you think of it?
Got any translations, corrections, comments, ideas or suggestions? Is there something you really want me to review for you?
Leave your messages in the usual place please.

Beer Review: Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne

17 May, 2008

Okocim Mocne was a disappointment. But it wasn’t the only Polish “Mocne” beer in the shop. So, to see if there are better, or worse, Mocne’s out there, here’s another one: Dębowe Mocne. At a very premium £1.69 from the corner shop where I found them both, Dębowe Mocne is 10 pence pricier. Let’s hope it’s worth it.

Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne bottle

First impressions are that it looks almost identical to the Okocim Mocne. Dark colours with splashes of gold seem to be the norm, when it comes it strong Mocne beer.

The neck label simply has a smaller version of the main logo.

Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne neck label

Quite simply, a picture of a tree. Not as powerful as Okocim’s eagle. And an unusual choice of imagery.

The big, main, front label has no English. So it’s down to you. If you can translate anything, do please leave a message at the end of this post.

Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne front label

Besides the name, the only detail I can make sense of, is the alcoholic volume. Which, like Okocim’s Mocne, is 7%. Like every other Polish beer, there’s a 14.5% “WAG”, whatever that means. Why does every Polish beer have this percentage? What does it mean?

“Naturalna Moc” must be hinting at “natural ingredients”. But “Bogaty Smak”? Possibly the two funniest Polish words I’ve ever failed to understand, together in one place. Priceless.

The back label doesn’t answer any more questions. At least not in English.

Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne back label

There is what looks like a medal. A 2006 “Grupa Media Partner” “Laur Konsumenta” medal. Does that mean anything to anyone reading?

Next to the medal is a paragraph I can’t understand. And a bar cutting across the label with the words “Dębowe Laurowe”.

Then we get to the ingredients. This is always a good place to look for clues. And this one yields a surprise. The familiar name brewing name of Kompania Piwowarska SA from Poznań. Familiar, because it’s what was on that can of Żubr a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it doesn’t raise my expectations. The only thing good about Żubr was its television commercials.

Also on the back label is an “Infolinia” information line telephone number. And confirmation that this is a 500 millilitre bottle. But you could probably tell that from it being exactly the same size and shape as countless other bottles on the shop shelf.

With little learnt from the outside of the bottle, it’s time to answer the big question about what’s inside the bottle. Is it any good?

In the glass, there’s a good, creamy head.

Piwowarska Dębowe Mocne poured into a glass

It’s dark amber in colour. And, unlike Okocim Mocne, doesn’t look all that fizzy.

The smell is utterly unremarkable. Like any cheap yet strong beer or lager, it smells of malted barley and yeast. It’s not the most pleasant of beer aromas.

And the taste isn’t any better. A ghastly bitter and sour taste prevails. And lingers. Not the fine, sophisticated bitterness of a proper beer or ale. Dębowe Mocne tastes like the worst of the high-strength lagers.

On the other hand, at least it’s full of flavour. Even if that flavour is as delecious as a dose of ebola virus. And, if you chill it enough to dull the taste, you could call it refreshing. It’s also not as gassy as Okocim Mocne.

Is Dębowe Mocne better than Okocim Mocne? No. Amazingly, it manages to be even worse and less drinkable. If you want a very strong lager or beer, then Tennent’s Super Strong Lager or Carlsberg Special Brew are stronger, cheaper and at least as drinkable. There’s even less reason to buy this, than there was with Okocim Mocne? One to avoid unless you’re a “Mocne” fan.

Rating: 0.6

Have you tried Dębowe Mocne? Can you translate anything on it? What did you think of this dreadful beer? What sort of reputation does it have in Poland?
Comments, corrections, ideas and suggestions in the usual place please.

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

Beer Review: Piwowarska Żubr

27 April, 2008

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.

Beer Review: Lech Premium

23 February, 2008

Third and final stop (for now) on my Polish beer exploration brings me to Lech Premium.
Bottle of Lech Premium

Lech comes in a green bottle with a green label that gives it a striking appearance. Especially when compared to the very similar looking and tasting Tyskie and Zywiec. Just like them however, the rear label is a baffling block of text.
Lech Premium back label

Careful examination of that block revealed the ingredients as being water, malt and hops. Nothing special there. This must be a lager beer, ever though it doesn’t explicitly say so.

Also on the label is indication of the 5.2% volume. That makes it weaker than it’s Polish compatriots. Oddly, Lech, in bottle form, appears only to be available in 500 millilitre quantities. The same as Tyskie and Zywiec. Is there a reason for all these Polish beers only retailing in this large size of bottle?

The front label, I think is quite well designed. It keeps things clear and simple and has an intriguing shield logo. Are those rams or goats on it?
Lech Premium front label

Once poured into a pint glass, there wasn’t much head to speak of. The colour did confirm the lager hypothesis.
Lech Premium in a glass

There is a weak smell of malt and hops. Not a strong smell, but one that speaks of a quiet quality. The flavour isn’t strong in much the same way as Tyskie and Zywiec weren’t what you would call full bodied. The slight bitterness and sourness are there, but with Lech, they aren’t as ‘rough’ or as ‘sharp’. And that makes Lech even easier to drink.

Lech was surprisingly gentle and pleasant. I found it to be a very enjoyable and pleasant lager. And I’m not even a fan of lagers. Well worth a try if you find it on sale.

Rating: 3.75

Have you tried Lech? What did you think of it? Leave your thought in the comments.

Beer Review: Zywiec Polish Prized Original Beer

23 February, 2008

Next stop on my tour of Polish beer is the easily pronounceable Zywiec.
Bottle of Zywiec Polish Prized Original Beer

I’m going to make a guess that one would pronounce it Zee-vi-ech. If you know the right was to say it, leave me a comment in the usual place.

Widely available in East End corner shops, off-licences and supermarkets, this is an inexpensive Polish lager beer. And one I think, looks a lot like Tyskie.
Zywiec and Tyskie side by side

The resemblance is remarkable. Yet each is from a different brewery. Is every bottle of Polish beer so similar?

Zywiec, we learn, dates back to 1856. Exactly like Tyskie, it is 5.6% and, in the UK at least, only comes in 500 millilitre bottles. Helpfully, the front label also indicates that 500 millilitres translates to 1 pint. Or, if you measure your drinks in fluid ounces (and who doesn’t), a 0.9 fl.oz. measurement is included. I don’t mean to knock this however. In fact, I actively encourage all brewers out there to include more than meaningless millilitre measurements.

Zywiec neck label

Perhaps my favourite aspect of the front label is where they allude to the winning of awards. Unlike the other brewers and their drinks, that hazily refer to their beer as “award winning”. Or “prize winning”. Or “champion”. No no. Zywiec has been “Awarded Medals”. What medals or for what, we are never told. But definitely the most Pol-glish way of expressing the concept.

Zywiec front label

Again, just like Tyskie, the rear label is an incomprehensible block of text in all known languages, dialects and accents. Studious examination of which didn’t reveal anything unusual.
Zywiec back label

In terms of smell, you can detect a weak malted barley odour. But one that is less premium than some others I have tried recently.

Poured into a glass, it looks like lager. There is also a surprisingly creamy and foamy head to it, but this dies down after a few minutes.
Zywiec poured into a glass with a big headZywiec poured into a glass with a small head

The taste had a slight bitterness. And the after taste was slightly sour. What little taste there was, certainly was not strong. The lager taste was thoroughly unexceptional. That said, it wasn’t a chore to drink and easy to reach the end of the bottle. The drinkability does redeem it somewhat.

But there’s no escaping that Zywiec was a bit disappointing. It’s not a bad drink for the money. It just doesn’t do anything special, new or different. And as such, I can’t give it high marks.

Rating: 2.75

Let me know what you thought of Zywiec in the comments. Have you tried anything else from the same brewer? And any tips for good Polish beers available here in the UK?


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