Posts Tagged ‘Poznań’

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: 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: 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.


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