Monday, 31 March 2008

Czech Beer Loses It's Taste. Or Does It?

Two seemingly contradictory articles caught my eye this morning. In one, the Czech On Line Newspaper the Prague Daily Monitor reports that in an article, leading newspaper Lidove Noviny, is concerned that foreign companies now produce eight out of ten beers consumed in the republic. It states "A number of beer experts and consumers point out that the mergers and acquisitions of Czech breweries by foreign investors considerably damage the unique quality of Czech beer, so the traditional Czech drink is slowly turning into "Eurobeer." The paper further states: "Moreover, the repeated saturation of beer with carbon dioxide to increase its durability significantly harms its original characteristic. Such beer is then often served cooled down to quite a low temperature to disguise its real taste."

Now all this might seem a familiar and inevitable outcome of ownership by some of the fizz kings of the world, but it seems that Jan Vesely, chairman of the Czech Beer and Malt Association doesn't agree or rather didn't when he took part in this interview for Radio Praha 3 years ago.

He says "The trend is totally opposite. The quality of Czech beer increased incredibly over the last 15 years. There's no comparison with the majority of beers fifteen years ago. Not only shelf life, but also all the hygiene and sanitary conditions. Yes, it's true, that sometime in history every beer from every brewery had a specific sensory profile - or taste and smell, to be more human in my expressions. But I must say this trend of losing this specific sensory value is very positive. Because the reason for the specific taste and smells was different contamination of specific breweries. Breweries were contaminated by bacteria. There were some high-level breweries, but the majority were suffering. And no-one could help themselves because there was no money for substantial improvement. Now, in the new conditions, it's true that beer is more standardised and perhaps one beer is closer to another. But for me it's very positive, because at least now we can be sure that it's just beer yeast that's found in beer as a final product!"

Sorry Jan, but when I go to Prague in May, it will be the beers from the small independent producers I'll be seeking for just that "specific sensory profile". If I want beers from the big tastealikes, I can just stay home.


Stonch said...

Very interesting. What a remarkably odd perspective that guy has. Talk about an industrial approach to beer!

I had a dream that I went to U Fleku the other night.

Tandleman said...

Better your dream than Jan's I think. Yes. Odd indeed!

Tyson said...

Can't see the Czech tourist board being too pleased with him.He's basically rubbishing one of their USPs.

Tom Fryer (OBBD) said...

In other words, blandness and homogeneity are acceptable prices to pay for predictability. Very scary!

Orwell wouldn't have been surprised... Victory Beer, anyone?

Jeff Frane said...

Michael Lewis of University of California at Davis has been peddling a similar line for decades. To him, any house character was a sign of contamination, and he's on record offering that judgment on entire beer styles. After taking a weekend course from him back in 1988, I learned that he doesn't really even like beer (although he makes his living as a brewing expert) and believes that Budweiser is the highest expression of the science (never craft or art) of brewing.

Tandleman said...

Perhaps we should tell these two guys to get togther!

Bud anyone?

Andy Holmes said...