Posts Tagged ‘zubr’

Beer Review: Zubr Premium

18 August, 2008

NOT to be confused with the Polish Żubr, this Zubr Premium is Czech. And it appears just when I thought I had tried all the Czech beers. I wander how it will compare to the under-whelming Ostravar, Praga and Budvar or the above-average Staropramen? There’s only one way to find out…

Zubr Premium bottle

First impressions? The shiny silver labels look great. But stuck onto a muddy brown bottle? After yesterday’s marvellously colour-coordinated Harbin Lager, this looks a little on the cheap side.

The small roundel logo on the neck foil is good.

Zubr Premium neck foil

It informs us that this brewery dates back to 1872. Not very far back, but enough to give it some heritage. Then there’s the logo inside the roundel. It looks like a bull in front of a castle. Am I seeing things? What is it supposed to be?

As for the three words around the border of the roundel, two of them are close enough to English to understand. And those words must be “Traditional Czech”. But what of the third word? If you know what “Kvalita” means, do please leave a comment at the end of this post.

The front label is sharp, shiny and good looking.

Zubr Premium front label

Simply a big version of the roundel, everything is nearly in its place. The words around the border say “Czech Beer” and “Premium Quality”. Whilst in the bottom corners are the vital statistics. This bottle is 0.5L (or 500 millilitres if you prefer). And it weighs in at a somewhat unusual 5.1% volume. I like that. 0.1% more than the continental average. Brilliant.

Lastly, around the bottom of the roundel are what look like medals. Or are they crests? Either way, the shininess of the label and the tiny size of whatever it is they are make it difficult to know.

Over on the back label, and everything is straightforward, easy to read and English. This must be an export version.

Zubr Premium back label

They open by describing it as a “Classic Czech Beer” that has a “Golden Honey Colour Traditionally Brewed Using the Finest Ingredients”. A statement that you could copy and paste onto nearly any beer bottle and get away with it.

Next up is the address. This beer comes courtesy of the Zubr Company, Přerov in the Czech Republic. The web address it gives, www.zubr.cz, even ends in the CZ country code. Again, I’m so pleased to see another genuine imported beer in an off-licence refrigerator cabinet. Incidentally, the English language section is at http://www.zubr.cz/en.

There’s not much else to report. There’s no ingredients list. No UK units of alcohol symbol. But they do say that this has 2.6 units of alcohol per 500 millilitres. Does anyone know what system of units this is from? How do these units compare to UK units of alcohol? Leave your knowledge in the comments at the end of the post, please.

Now it’s time to open this bottle and see how it compares to the other Czech beers. Will it be better than Staropramen? My money is on ‘no’.

Zubr Premium poured into a glass

In the glass, it really is “golden honey” coloured. Which makes a change from pale yellow lagers. There’s not much head though. Moment after that photo was taken, it became an odd patchwork of bubbles on the surface. Not so good, as I like a decent layer of froth.

The smell is… not particularly strong. But what it does have is not bad. It smells vaguely of malted barley, but not in the same way as lagers do.

A couple of gulps in, and I’m fairly impressed. Nowhere to be seen is the half-absent blend of lagery flavours. Instead, Zubr Premium tastes, quite vividly, of malted barley and hops. All of which give a pleasant, strong-ish, and reasondly lingering bitter after taste.

There is much that I like about Zubr Premium. And that surprises me. Because I didn’t expect there to be anything. I like that it has flavour. I like that the flavour tastes good. I like that the strength of the flavours means that it is drinkable. I like that it’s different enough from the others to be distinctive and having some of the elusive characteristic that is… well… character.

There must be something I don’t much like about it. Half-way through, and there are one or two problems. I’m burping more than usual, so it must be gassy. Even though it has flavour, it’s not truly full-bodied. All of which means that it will soon feel like you’re drinking foamy water. The flavour, even though I’m finding it somewhat tasty, would wear thin after a few bottles or pints. Not as badly as the lagers, but there’s not enough depth too keep you as interested as, say, an ale would.

What Zubr Premium is, then, is a tasty beer. No lagery awfulness, but no serious complexity either. Just a good, decent, well flavoured beer. I didn’t expect it to fair well against its Czech competitors. But this is up there with Staropramen. Maybe even slightly ahead. I’ve got to recommend this for anyone curious about Czech or European beers.

Rating: 3.2

Have you tried Zubr Premium? Can you translate anything on the label?

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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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