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Łomża Export (346 of 1001)

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.75

My third review of a beer from the 1001 beers list in a row now, this one being another Polish offering that I managed to get hold of when visiting Warsaw last month but it’s taking me some time to get round to adding it here. This one was the third of four new Polish beers from the list that I managed to try on my visit to the country and follows on from the recent reviews of Żywiec Porter and Perła Chmielowa on this blog. This particular offering is another I picked up on my last afternoon in Warsaw after stopping off at several convenience stores hunting for this or one of the other beers to feature on the 1001 beers list from Poland. The beer is brewed in the town of Łomża, located roughly ninety miles from Warsaw but even then it wasn’t the easy of bottles to get hold of despite it being one of the most popular beers in the northeast of the country. It is a beer that has managed to win a few awards over the years too, including a bronze at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2009 and a gold medal at the Monde Selection in Belgium the same year; not bad for a brewery only founded in 1968 as a government-run enterprise.

Appearance (3/5): Quite a light and clear bodied beer that was amber coloured and had a lot of larger bubbles rising to the surface in the early going. The head was quite a thin and disappointing one, starting about a centimetre tall as a bubbly white one before fading to a fraction of its original size and turning patchy around the edges.
Aroma (5/10): Fairly light on the nose with some early skunky notes and a faint grassy hops making an appearance alongside some hay and basic adjuncts. There wasn’t really much coming through but I could detect some bread malts and a basic sweetness with subtle citrus notes seeing things out.
Taste (5/10): Similar to the nose, the taste kicks off with some basic adjuncts and a couple of bread malts that carry on from the nose, there was a little sweetness in there too though. This was followed nearer the middle by some grassy flavours and hay as well as a slightly sticky tasting biscuit flavours. Towards the end the adjuncts and hay start to become more pronounced on what was already quite a basic offering but it certainly wasn’t the worst tasting beer out there.
Palate (3/5): Light medium bodied and fairly basic throughout, there was some subtle grassy hops and a slight bit of fizz on top of quite a sweet base to the beer. Sticky patches from the sweet malts featured at times but on the whole it was quite a bland and unexciting beer that wasn’t very complex either sadly.

Overall (11/20): A better beer than I’d been expecting going in, but in truth that is only half the story since I definitely wasn’t expecting much from this one and the fact it came in a 660ml bottle didn’t help matters. Appearance wise the beer got off to a poor start but things picked up a little with the nose and taste at least without really excelling. It remained quite an easy one to drink with a nice balance that made it better than quite a few other Polish beers I’ve tried but I’m still not sure I’d put it in the 1001 beers book to be honest with you.

Brewed In: Łomża, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browar Łomża
First Brewed: 1968
Type: Dortmunder/Export Lager
Abv: 5.7%
Serving: Bottle (660ml)
Purchased: Żabka Supermarket (Warsaw)
Price: 3.49PLN (approx. £0.70)

Saku Porter (345 of 1001)

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.8

Only my second ever beer from Estonia now, this one follows on from the bottle of Viru from the country that I reviewed here way back in June 2013 having been impressed with the nice bottle design but ultimately being disappointed with the beer itself so I was hopeful this one would be better. The beer is a Baltic porter that appears in the 1001 beers list as one of only two Estonian offerings featured so I fully expected this one to be a decent offering when I picked it up on my last day in Warsaw when visiting the city last month. Brewed once a year as a winter seasonal, this one was originally brewed in the town of Saku before production was moved to the Aldaris brewery in Latvia in the winter of 2009/10, since both are now owned by Carlsberg but naturally I’ll still list this one as an Estonian beer. It was at this point that the beers alcohol content was reduced from the original 7.5% to its current 7.0%, although the bottle I picked up came in just under that at 6.9% abv. for the winter 2016/17 edition of the beer.

Appearance (4/5): An opaque offering that was a dark brown to mahogany colour and came with a few red tinges running through the body as well. There was a light beige head on top that started off quite bubbly, sitting about a centimetre tall before fading to leave a slightly patchy lacing after about thirty seconds or so with the odd bubble rising from the base of the beer too.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a malty offering with a lot of chocolate notes coming through in the early going alongside some vanilla sweetness and touches of caramel. It was a sweet beer but some earthy bitterness featured early too which helped to give the beer a nice balance on the nose, some coffee smells featuring too but they were definitely more subtle. It was quite a strong beer on the nose with some grain and hints of alcohol coming through nearer the end but overall it was a pleasant smelling beer.
Taste (7/10): Starting with a combination of sweet malts and chocolate in the early going, there was some dark malts and caramel sweetness too with the odd sticky flavours towards the middle. I could detect some liquorice and an almost cola like taste with plenty of sugars coming through soon after and then a couple of roasted malts down the stretch before some hints of alcohol seen things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied with quite a creamy, smooth feel to proceedings and plenty of sweetness too. The beer was syrupy and sticky at times with plenty of malt bitterness and the odd touch of alcohol towards the end giving it a slightly warming feel that seemed stronger than the 6.9% abv. of the beer.

Overall (16/20): This one was quite a big, strong beer that opened with a lot of sweetness thanks to the chocolate and caramel flavours sitting on top of a sugary base and some warming alcohol nearer the end. There was a nice complexity to this one as well as a good balance, I felt it was slightly stronger than a 6.9% beer should be but it was still highly drinkable and one well worth trying; I’d go as far as to say that I’d have it again if it was more readily available in the UK.

Brewed In: Saku, Harjumaa, Estonia
Brewery: Saku Õlletehas
First Brewed: circa 1990
Type: Baltic Porter
ABV: 6.9%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Carrefour Express (Warsaw, Poland)
Price: 9 PLN (approx. £0.80)

Perła Chmielowa (344 of 1001)

April 25, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 2.1

The second of four Polish beers from the 1001 beers list that I managed to try when visiting Warsaw last month and only my third beer from the country that features on the list so far, the other two being Źywiec offerings. This one is a beer that I picked up on my last day in the country after finding a bottle in an Express convenience store, having been looking for any beers from the list that I could find in the city; it seems that the ones listed in the book were hard to find in pubs and bars around the city but not too difficult to pick up in shops for some reason. This particular beer is a pale lager that was first brewed way back in 1846 and is the brewery’s flagship offering but isn’t one that I’ve ever seen available in the UK, despite the fact that Polish beers are becoming increasingly available in the country so it’s one I’m glad to have picked up and checked off my list now.

Appearance (2/5): Quite a clear beer, this one was bright amber coloured with a slight orange tinge. The head was a bubbly white one that sat about half a centimetre tall initially but faded almost instantly to leave a lot of large bubbles rising to the surface; poor stuff really.
Aroma (4/10): Quite a strong and skunky nose in the early going, there was some sweetness with lots of corn and basic malts coming through alongside a few cheap adjuncts and vegetable notes. It’s definitely a basic smelling beer with some sugary notes and hay nearer the end but it wasn’t any better after the appearance sadly.
Taste (5/10): A marginal improvement on the aroma but only just, the taste kicked off with the same corn sweetness as the nose with a few sticky malts in there too before some sugars and vegetable notes featured around the middle of the beer. The usual adjuncts featured alongside some hay and lager malts but again it was basic and poor.
Palate (2/5): Light-medium bodied and quite sweet with a very sticky feel at times. The beer was relatively smooth but with lighter than expected carbonation and quite a basic, one-dimensional feel to proceedings as well as a slightly gassy feel right at the end.

Overall (8/20): Definitely up there with the worst of the Polish beers that I’ve reviewed here so far, this one was very cheap and basic tasting with made it a hard one to work my way through. There was some early sweetness but the balance wasn’t great and too many adjuncts featured throughout as well making it one that I really struggled finishing and wouldn’t have again; I doubt it deserves a place on the 1001 beers list as well.

Brewed In: Lublin, Poland
Brewery: Perla Browary Lubelskie S.A.
Also Known As: Perła Chmielowa (Hop Pearl)
First Brewed: 1846
Type: Pale Lager
Abv: 6.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Carrefour Express (Warsaw, Poland)
Price: 2.69PLN (approx. £0.54)

Misty Contemporary IPA

April 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.85

Another beer that I sampled on my last full night in Poland last month, this one is my first beer from the Trzech Kumpli brewery based not far outside of Kraków in the south of the country. I managed to try this beer on-tap at the Spiskowcy Rozkoszy bar in Warsaw and was somewhat surprised with it given I was expecting a hoppy IPA but it definitely had hints of a saison coming through at times which was unusual. Coming from a brewery that I’ve never heard of and one that wasn’t even widely available in Warsaw, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this offering but it did turn out to be a nice beer and I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for more of their stuff when I visit Kraków later this year.

Appearance (5/5): A light, almost yellow golden colour that is tinged with amber and topped with a bubbly lacing around the circumference in lieu of a head whilst the beer itself looked quite cloudy and unfiltered; definitely not the best of starts.
Aroma (6/10): Hints of a saison come through early with the nose and are backed up by some yeast and wheat before come citrus hops bring things to the middle. There was a slightly floral aroma to the beer but it was definitely more funky than I’d anticipated with a lot more tart showing than usual for an IPA. Towards the end some orange and lemon notes started to come through as well but for the most part the saison like aromas dominated.
Taste (7/10): The taste of this one was a slightly more subdued version of the nose that came through with some lemon and tart flavours in the early going but it definitely wasn’t as zesty as the nose had been. There was some wheat and hints of banana near the middle with some orange as well before yeast and the odd spice started to bring what was a fairly fruity tasting beer to a close.
Palate (4/5): Smooth and relatively crisp, this one was quite a dry and zesty beer with some funk showing but less carbonation than expected, it sat somewhere around light-medium in that department and could have used more. The balance of the beer was a good one however and it was relatively easy to drink into the bargain without being anything special really.

Overall (15/20): Quite a surprising beer in that it was labelled as an American IPA in the bar I sampled it in but when I actually drank the beer it was more like an IPA/saison hybrid with quite a lot of zesty fruits and citrus alongside some strong yeast and tart flavours. There was a nice balance to the beer with some subtle spices nearer the end as well, even some banana and wheat featured at times too to make it a fairly enjoyable beer without it being a classic.

Brewed In: Tarnów, Poland
Brewery: Browar Trzech Kumpli
First Brewed: 2017
Type: American IPA
Abv: 5.5%
Serving: Keg (300ml)
Purchased: Spiskowcy Rozkoszy, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 9 PLN (approx. £1.76)

Artezan Pacific Pale Ale

April 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.4

Another beer from one of the biggest craft breweries in Poland, this one is my second beer from the Artezan brewery based just outside of Warsaw and is another that I tried whilst visiting the city last month. I grabbed this one on keg at the Drugie Dno bar on my last night in the country having made a point of stopping by the bar on my travels and being influenced by the good online reviews this beer received, it looks like it previously featured in the list of the fifty best American pale ales on RateBeer (although it no longer appears on the list today). Following on from the brewery’s Mera IPA that I had tried a day or two before this one, I was particularly looking forward to seeing how this one would turn out when I ordered it last month; here’s what I thought.

Appearance (4/5): A bright amber coloured beer with a cloudy body, it has quite a foamy head that is white and starts about half a centimetre tall before fading to leave a bubbly lacing after about a minute, but one that still manages to cover the surface well.
Aroma (6/10): Hop-filled with a lot of floral notes and some citrus to kick things off, there was some bitterness off of the back to these too. The beer wasn’t overly strong on the nose sadly but some pineapple and lemon notes did some through and were easily detectable. These were followed by some lighter pine notes and then some biscuit malts that added a little to the sweetness before a few tropical fruits seen things out. It was a nice beer on the nose with enough going on to keep it interesting but it seemed a little weak for my liking I’m afraid.
Taste (7/10): The taste was slightly more malty than the nose had been but the pine and tropical fruits did carry through well. These were followed by some pleasant orange and lemon flavours too but neither seemed overly pronounced, a few touches of peach and grapefruit did back them up though. Towards the end there was the biscuit malts from the nose making an appearance alongside an earthy bitterness before the faintest of caramel touches seen things out.
Palate (3/5): Not as fresh or as lively as I’d hoped going into this one, the beer was sweet with a nice combination of tropical fruits and biscuit sweetness working well together. The body was light medium with average carbonation levels for the style and there was a slight tang at the end on top of what was a fairly dry beer overall.

Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be a slightly underwhelming offering from Artezan and not as good as their Mera IPA that I reviewed here previously, particularly considering the fact that I ordered this one based on how good some of the online reviews of it had been. The beer opened with some biscuit malts and the odd tropical fruit flavours but I was expecting more in the way of a juicy hop taste and nice bitterness, neither of which materialised. It was definitely a beer that could have used being a little stronger and carbonation levels could have been increased too but as it stands the beer was quite an average one and probably not a beer I’d go for again.

Brewed In: Błonie, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browar Artezan
First Brewed: 2013
Type: American Pale Ale
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Keg (300ml)
Purchased: Drugie Dno, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 10PLN (appox. £1.96)

Okocim Mistrzowski Porter

April 21, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.65

My first beer from the Okocim brewery now, a brewery which was one of the few Polish ones I was aware of before my first to Warsaw last month. This particular offering is a strong Baltic porter from the brewery that comes in at 8.9% abv. and is one that I managed to pick up when on a night out of the city back in March; it’s taken me longer than expected to get round to adding my review here though. Although not a beer that features in the 1001 list, another from the brewery does so I was also keen to try this offering when I spotted a bottle in the fridge behind the bar. Not to be confused with the brewery’s Okocim Porter, the offering that I’m reviewing here appears to be a more recent beer having only been introduced sometime around 2013, here’s what I thought of the bottle that I tried.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a really dark brown colour, this one is topped with a quarter centimetre head that is foamy and sticks to the sides a little; it’s a still and opaque bodied beer but it’s nothing special in the early going really.
Aroma (6/10): Slightly dark malts open the nose up with touches of grain coming through from the alcohol as well, there was a hint of caramel malt as well. The beer seemed earthy with some chocolate notes and a little cocoa towards the middle before some fainter fruits seen things out. Overall the beer was well-balanced on the nose with slightly less alcohol showing than expected but some did manage to sneak through all the same.
Taste (7/10): Definitely more malty than the nose indicated, there was a lot of earthy flavours in the early going but they were thankfully backed up by a little sweetness that came from the chocolate flavours and some sugars. The taste seemed semi-bitter with some caramel malts in there as well as some smoke nearer the end to make a nice beer without it being a standout offering.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied with a smooth feel for the most part and some early alcohol touches that kicked the nose off. There was some smoke showing at times too but for the most part the sweetness from the chocolate and the malts seemed strongest, and carbonation wise it was quite a soft beer that coupled with the smoothness made it an easy one to drink.

Overall (15/20): Quite a strong beer with plenty of sweetness that managed to cover most of the alcohol malts and grains that appeared in the early going, there was a slightly warming feel to the beer nonetheless though. The beer was just shy of being full-bodied offering and together with the smooth feel, it was quite an easy beer to drink despite coming in so strong and showing some alcohol grain at times. The smoky flavours near the end of the beer weren’t too bad either but I’m still not sure it’s one that I’d rush out to try again, mainly because of the strength of the beer though.

Brewed In: Brzesko, Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland
Brewery: Browar Okocim
First Brewed: circa. 2013
Type: Baltic Porter
Abv: 8.9%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Verado Bar, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 10PLN (appox. £1.96)

Żywiec Białe

April 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.2

A fourth beer from the Żywiec brewery now and another that I sampled whilst visiting Warsaw last month, this one following on from bottle of their Porter and Saison that I managed to try in the city as well. Unlike their Porter, this particular offering isn’t a beer from Żywiec that I was aware of before visiting Poland but since I always like to pick up new wheat beers when I can, I opted to give this one a go in my hostel bar and actually ended up drinking a couple bottles of the stuff. The beer is a witbier styled offering that was introduced in 2014 and appeared to be readily available throughout Warsaw, although it also appears to have attracted some poor reviews online but I didn’t feel it was a particularly bad one; here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (3/5): A cloudy amber coloured beer that was slightly lighter and less bright than expected, the head was also a slight disappointment given it started about a centimetre tall and then disappeared completely within the first minute; not what I expect from a wheat beer really.
Aroma (6/10): Opening with some wheat and banana notes in the early going, there was some bread and a few malty smells following on behind before some subtle citrus started to come through. The beer wasn’t overly lively or fresh really, it featured some lemon and a few touches of biscuit nearer the middle but it was standard to basic for the style really.
Taste (7/10): Again opening with a combination of bread malts and banana, the beer was sweet and slightly stronger than the nose with some citrus featuring as before. There wastouches of clove and a few fresh fruits nearer the centre, I managed to detect some orange and naturally a lot of wheat. Down the stretch there was some floral touches but again the beer was a relatively basic offering for the style.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied but with less carbonation than I’d have expected, the beer was sweet at times and slightly dry nearer the end. As I’ve said, it was a basic take on the witbier still but it was crisp and relatively easy to drink too.

Overall (14/20): A fairly standard but still drinkable wheat beer, there was a good opening with the banana working well together with the bread malts to give the beer a sweet but balanced taste. The beer was definitely lighter and less carbonated than I’d have liked to see but it was drinkable without being one I’d seek out if it was available in the UK.

Brewed In: Żywiec, Poland
Brewery: Grupa Żywiec
First Brewed: 2014
Type: Premium Lager
Abv: 4.9%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Oki Doki Hostel, Warsaw, Poland
Price: 9PLN (approx. £1.80)