Friday, 2 May 2008


We reluctantly leave Lipan. There's still one final destination today. Our fourth brewery of the day.

Pivovarský dvůr Zvíkov
Zvíkovské Podhradí 92,
398 18 Záhoří u Písku.
Tel: 382 285 660
Fax: 382 285 722

We pull off the road and into another small village. We drive to its far side, edged by woods. And there it is: a brand, spanking new, custom-built brewery, pub and hotel. We won 't have far to walk home this evening.

We dump pour bags upstairs and meet in the bar. Andy has his drinking head on again. Steady on there, we've got another 5 hours before they close. There are three beers on draught: 11º Zvíkovský Rarášek (Top-fermented), 13º Tmavé and 13º Světlé.

Creature of habit that I am, I start with 13º Tmavé: very dark brown in colour, with roast, liquorice cream and fruit flavours. Quite dry and utterly drinkable. I score it 75 out of 100. Definitely worth coming all the way out into the middle of nowhere for.

The pub is very much along traditional Czech lines, despite being no more than a few years old. It's filled with chunky pine furniture. I feel right at home. This time we have a very tall barmaid. God she's tall. And I live in Amsterdam. I'm used to having to look up at girls when I'm standing in the tram.

I'm quite surprised when Andy suggests we go for a walk. He was drinking like he was settled in for the night. A couple of hundred metres down the track is Zvikov castle. It should give a got appetite for our tea, so we agree and head off.

The sun is low in the sky and adds a cheery glow to everything. Everyone else has gone home and the silence is only broken by birdsong and farting. It's so romantic. The castle, perched on cliffs above a bend in the river Vltava, is typically central European. There's one high lookout tower in a single bailey, skirted with buildings and the exterior walls. In the orange-tinged light it's quite magical. We linger far longer than I had expected.

Safely back in the pub, we're approached by a young bloke in shorts. He's the brewer. He offers to take us around the brewery.

It's a complete contrast with Lipan - ordered and rational. That's the advantage of custom-built premises. The cellar was designed to hold a brewery.

Michael, the brewer, speaks excellent English. He picked it up while working for Staropramen when they were owned by Bass. It makes asking questions much easier. Surprisingly, he doesn't work full-time at the brewery. He has a day job during the week and leaves the running of the pub and hotel to his wife.

Here's what he told us:

They use spring water for brewing with 11-12 German degrees of hardness.

The Dunkles is brewed from pils, Munich, caramell malt and farb malz.

They use 3 types of Saaz hop pellets, some for arooma, some for bittering.

Both top- and bottom-fermented beers are made, but not at the same time.

The top-fermented beer uses a German Weizen yeast and is spiced with ginger. Yeast is pitched at 13º C and the temperature rises to 16º C after 24 hours. Primary fermentation lasts 6 days then the beer is cooled.

The bottom-fermented beers are pitched with yeast at 7.5º C, rising to 11º C after a day. Primary fermentation takes 6 days for the 11º, 8 days for 13º C.

The beers are lagered for 3 months. The first week at 5º C, slowly being cooled to 2º C over two weeks. The pressure in the lagering tanks is one bar.


Anonymous said...

I don't mean to ruin the surprise, but did you try the beers from Pivovar Kout na Šumavě? It seems like you've already been through that area...

Elektrolurch said...

Mh and what about tasting notes for the other beers? do we have to wait for them?....:(
the top fermented one sounds really interesting.....

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlan. no. we didn't make it there.

electrolurch, I'm a boring git. I really liked the dark one.

Anonymous said...

That pub... Hang on... There's a picket fence stuck on the inside of the walls! Have those guys not picked up the basics of the whole fence/wall thing, or is this a totally radical concept in interior design that Spoons pubs will be copying soon here in the UK?

Ron Pattinson said...

Somebloke, very well spotted. I hadn't noticed. I was too busy looking at the tall barmaid and worrying about the dog.