Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Budvar Tankové Pivo

Like some others I've been very impressed with the Tankovna Pilsner Urquell that is now sweeping some parts of the UK. It is one of the few things that makes the Draft House at Tower Hill remotely bearable when the suits are in and your head is being shredded by repeated tuneless bass music, comparable to being attacked, without anaesthetic, by a mental dental surgeon, with a particularly slow and buzzy drill of considerable width.  I digress, but feel better for getting that off my chest. Bastards.

I've been lucky enough to have tank beer in Prague and old enough to have had tank beer in the UK in one of its original incarnations, but done well, with top quality beer, it is really a rather good way to ensure the customer gets brewery fresh beer, as near as dammit as the brewer intended. (Mind you I don't always want things the way some brewers intend, but that's another digression.) I was therefore pleased to be invited to try Budvar Tankové Pivo shortly after its Manchester launch at the Oast House in Manchester's Spinningfields. Even better I had been asked to bring a plus one and my companion was the lovely E, fresh off the train from London and dragging her thirst behind her on what was a lovely day in early May

Now a word about the Oast House. This was opened as a ‘pop-up’ bar with temporary planning permission in October 2011.  It is a genuine 16th century oast house and was brought to Manchester from Kent, brick-by-brick and is now a permanent feature of Spinningfields, Manchester's business and leisure area, purpose built from 2000 onwards. It has a large beer garden and is attractively rustic, though not that big inside. I rather like it as it seems to always be populated by a very mixed and cheerful crowd.

Our hosts were Budweiser Budvar UK Beer Sommelier Jo Miller and (Oast House owners) New World Trading Company’s Beer Guru Warren McCoubrey.  I didn't know Jo before, but Warren is an old acquaintance, once being part of the famous Marble Arch Brewing team that brought you Manchester Bitter and Pint. He speaks (rightly) very highly of Dominic Driscoll, now brewing for Thornbridge and James Campbell, Head Brewer of Cloudwater, so we were off to a flying start. Jo turned out to be great fun and with a couple of local lasses joining us, it was a jolly little crowd that set about learning about Budvar and supping the beer.  For my part, though I had had tank Budvar in Prague, it was some time ago and I wanted to compare and contrast.  The beer itself is malty and bittersweet with a good Saaz hop finish. It is easy to drink and its 90 day maturation period does give a deeply rich and satisfying flavour.

So, did I prefer Budvar or Urquell?  Well, they are different beers entirely, but I would say that each has its place. I like Urquell for its sheer drinkability, its distinct spicy hoppiness and yes, even that slight diacetyl edge that somehow enhances the beer. Budvar is more sophisticated in its taste, maltier and somehow a little more steely.  Take your pick really. Neither will disappoint.

A big thanks to our hosts Warren, Jo (and Caroline from chip PR who ensured a constant steam of Budvar) for lots of wit and repartee. This wasn't so much a beer tasting as a natter among friends. We both enjoyed it enormously.

 Budvar Tankové Pivo is available in the Oast House at around a fiver a pop. When E and I called a couple of weeks later, it was flying out. Job done. People like it.


Cooking Lager said...

£5 a pint eh?

Erlangernick said...

"(Mind you I don't always want things the way some brewers intend, but that's another digression.)"

Brewers should intend things the way TAND wants them. Or want them the way TAND intends them, I can't keep it all straight.

I had tanky Budvar in Prague last autumn and found it about as uninteresting as the keg stuff. One small glass and it was back on to basically anything else available.

Tandleman said...

Cookie: Why not? Cheaper than craft keg. Which it probably is.

Nick: You find most lagers uninteresting yet drink knackered pong late at night in Thanet.

Ben Viveur said...

I don't get the fuss over either of these tank beers. I must be missing something because I really don't see a huge improvement over the standard keg/bottled versions just because it comes out of those ruddy great tanks.

Cask Pilsner Urquell, on the other hand, is bloody fantastic. In a wholly different league. If they're going to all this effort replacing keg with the very similar tank version, why not do the same thing with cask PU?

Erlangernick said...

Beggars and choosers.