Monday, December 7, 2009

You Can't Spell Czechoslovakia without Slovakia!

Beer: Zlaty Bazant (Golden Pheasant)
Brewery: Pivovar Zlaty Bazant (Slovakia)
Type: Pilsner
ABV: 5%

The first in my series of "difficult to pronounce" beers!

It's been 16 years since Slovakia left the supergroup Czechoslovakia to pursue a solo career, and so far, they've been doing pretty okay!

Er, that is to say, I guess so.

Truth be told, I don't really know a whole lot about Slovakia. I know they have a decent hockey team, their football team is in the World Cup, and that their name sounds suspiciously like Slovenia, thus giving American geography students all the more reason to stress out. I also know that they probably have a love-hate relationship with the Czechs. Like Oates, Slovakia continues to play second-fiddle to the Hall that is the Czech Republic. (I always kind of liked Oates...) Czech beer continues to be rated as among the world's best (they are, of course, home of the "pilsner", first brewed in the city of Pils by Josef Groll in 1842), but whither Slovakian beer?

Let's find out with the first of many Slovakian beers on Matt's Slovakian Beer Tour 2009!

Actually, the LCBO only carries one.

Actually, it's not that great.

Golden Pheasant is a typical Czech-style pilsner, which is characterized by being clear, golden, and well-hopped. You can probably find it with ease at your nearest LCBO - it's

usually found near some other reasonably-priced Eastern European lagers, except this one is pronounceable.

It pours a nice, clear golden, without much sign of visible carbonation. A fair-sized head results, which hangs around for a few minutes. Pretty good, I'd say. A bit of lacing, but not much.

The smell is typical for the pilsner style. Hops, straw and bread. Some people find the straw (or hay or barley, whatever your poison) nose a bit off-putting, but that's what pilsners tend to smell like. Nothing spectacular.

The taste is also decent. Fairly hoppy up front, some malts and spiciness near the back. To its credit, Golden Pheasant is surprisingly smooth, and certainly goes down easy. I can see myself drinking a few of these on a hot day.

So why did I initially say "not that great"? Cause it ain't. It does what most pilsners set out to do: it's hoppy, crisp, and refreshing. But holy crap, is it boring! Golden Pheasant is not a beer I particularly enjoyed sipping; it's meant to be consumed when you need a beer, dammit! I'm sure if the weather is hot, this beer will go down well, because that's what it's designed for.

But there are many other pilsners out there that do the job better, whether it be Czech classics like Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen, or more local fare like Prima Pils and Steam Whistle. So is it a bad beer? No. Is it worth your time? Probably not. (Grade: C+)

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