Posts Tagged ‘zywiec’

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 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: 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 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: 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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