Adventures of a Trombonist

The ramblings of a brewing mad, sports nut & professional Trombonist

Foam school with Pilsner Urquell at EBBC 2014

How a beer looks seems to be king these days. Maybe it always was. At the recent European Beer Bloggers Conference we were given a beer experience of a lifetime.  It turned what I thought about serving beer on its head.

We were rushed by coach from the Guinness Brewery to Dublin city centre where we were the first group to see the ceremonial barrel tapping by Pilsner Urquell  head brewer Vaclav Berka (See video below) . The pils was unfiltered and unpasteurised not to mention conditioned in a wooden barrel. This was done with little fuss from Vaclav, apparently a previous conference tapping had led to a 200 year old tapestry getting drenched. After pouring himself a pint Vaclav declared it was fit for drinking.

We lined up with our branded glassware and watched as pints and pints of foam came from the wooden barrel. Most of us were a little taken aback by a glass of foam. But on tasting we found a smooth, slightly sweet and very aromatic pils that was truly a delight.  On approaching Vaclav he explained that this was traditional and the foam was a delicacy. When the barrel ran out of pressure Vaclav used the large mallet (something Timmy Mallet might well approve of) to drive a metal spike into the barrel releasing air in and the beer flowed easier. This time the beer was a little flat but still with a generous head.

The next day at lunchtime we were treated to a Pilsner Urquell barbeque complete with more barrel tapping.  When Vaclav asked for a volunteer to tap the barrel my good brewer buddy Richie Hamilton gave me a shunt and before I knew where I was I was standing on my own beside the barrel. With mallet and tap in hand I duly obliged.
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Besides the incredible food we were offered a tasting tray of pils poured in various ways. Gimmicky I thought but boy was I wrong. Robert Lobovsky, beer master at Pilsner Urquell, gave a masterclass behind a one tap bar. Using his skill with the keg pils he poured 3 half pints. Each looked completely different. 2 you might send back for the size of the head and one that looks like you would expect.

IMAG0659First up we had the Mliko which was ¾ foam and ¼ beer. This looked like an amateur bartender attempt but like the barrel beer it was smooth, slightly sweet with a huge amount of aromatics in the foam. Really fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAG0660Next up was Na Dvakrat which was a traditional Irish or British pour. A tight head at the top with crystal clear gold below. This was much more bitter and a a lot more harsh than the Mliko. This is the way we are presented with beer around the world but I couldn’t help thinking that we are missing out by serving it this way.

 

 

 

 

IMAG0662Lastly was Hladinka. This is where Robert showed real skill. This is a ½ beer, ¼ wet foam and 1/4 dry foam. We were looking at him with astonishment when he said it but when presented with the glass we could clearly see the darker wet foam and the lighter dry foam. This version was by far the best. Less sweet than Mliko but still creamy and with more bitterness. Much more flavour and aromatics here than Na Dvakrat.

Hladinka is what the average drinker would go for in Pilsen and maybe finish off the night with the sweeter Mliko. Either way appearances can be very deceiving and I will be experimenting with my beer from the tap thanks to Vaclav and Robert.

I must say a big thank you to Vaclav, Robert and the Pilsner Urquell team. They really looked after us and they kindly gave me an empty barrel to take home. Something I  am going to guard with my life.

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Note: As a Citizen Blogger at the European Beer Bloggers Conference I took the generous stipend from Molsen Coors to write two blog posts.

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2 comments on “Foam school with Pilsner Urquell at EBBC 2014

  1. Biertourist (adam)
    November 3, 2014

    Wow, great stuff, Rossa. Since you took a barrel home with you, can you tell me whether the inside is raw wood? -Does the beer come directly in contact with the raw wood or is there a liner or coating of some sort?

    Adam

    • rossabone
      December 31, 2014

      There is a natural liner in there made of sap and a few other things that we couldn’t agree the English for! The hope is what was left inside after rinsing will be eaten away by the bugs and Brett.

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This entry was posted on July 8, 2014 by in International craft beers and tagged , , .

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