3A. Czech Pale Lager

Overall Impression

A lighter-bodied, rich, refreshing, hoppy, bitter pale Czech lager having the familiar flavors of the stronger Czech Premium Pale Lager (Pilsner-type) beer but in a lower alcohol, lighter-bodied, and slightly less intense format.

Appearance

Light gold to deep gold color. Brilliant to very clear, with a long-lasting, creamy white head.

Aroma

Light to moderate bready-rich malt combined with light to moderate spicy or herbal hop bouquet; the balance between the malt and hops may vary. Faint hint of caramel is acceptable. Light (but never intrusive) diacetyl and light, fruity hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present. No sulfur.

Flavor

Medium-low to medium bready-rich malt flavor with a rounded, hoppy finish. Low to medium-high spicy or herbal hop flavor. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh. Flavorful and refreshing. Diacetyl or fruity esters are acceptable at low levels, but need not be present and should never be overbearing.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body. Moderate carbonation.

Comments

The Czech name of the style is světlé výčepní pivo.

History

Josef Groll initially brewed two types of beer in 1842–3, a výčepní and a ležák, with the smaller beer having twice the production; Evan Rail speculates that these were probably 10 °P and 12 °P beers, but that the výčepní could have been weaker. This is the most consumed type of beer in the Czech Republic at present.

Characteristic Ingredients

Soft water with low sulfate and carbonate content, Saazer-type hops, Czech Pilsner malt, Czech lager yeast. Low ion water provides a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile despite high hopping rates.

Style Comparison

A lighter-bodied, lower-intensity, refreshing, everyday version of Czech Premium Pale Lager.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 35

SRM

3 - 6

OG

1.028 - 1.044

FG

1.008 - 1.014

ABV

3% - 4.1%

Commercial Examples

Březňák Světlé výčepní pivo, Notch Session Pils, Pivovar Kout na Šumavě Koutská 10°, Únětické pivo 10°.

3B. Czech Premium Pale Lager

Overall Impression

Rich, characterful, pale Czech lager, with considerable malt and hop character and a long, rounded finish. Complex yet well-balanced and refreshing. The malt flavors are complex for a Pilsner-type beer, and the bitterness is strong but clean and without harshness, which gives a rounded impression that enhances drinkability.

Appearance

Gold to deep gold color. Brilliant to very clear clarity. Dense, long-lasting, creamy white head.

Aroma

Medium to medium-high bready-rich malt and medium-low to medium-high spicy, floral, or herbal hop bouquet; though the balance between the malt and hops may vary, the interplay is rich and complex. Light diacetyl, or very low fruity hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present.

Flavor

Rich, complex, bready maltiness combined with a pronounced yet soft and rounded bitterness and floral and spicy hop flavor. Malt and hop flavors are medium to medium-high, and the malt may contain a slight impression of caramel. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh. The long finish can be balanced towards hops or malt but is never aggressively tilted either way. Light to moderate diacetyl and low hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present.

Mouthfeel

Medium body. Moderate to low carbonation.

Comments

Generally a group of pivo Plzeňského typu, or Pilsner-type beers. This style is a combination of the Czech styles světlý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and světlé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P). In the Czech Republic, only Pilsner Urquell is called a Pilsner, despite how widely adopted this name is worldwide. Kvasnicové (“yeast beer”) versions are popular in the Czech Republic, and may be either kräusened with yeasted wort or given a fresh dose of pure yeast after fermentation. These beers are sometimes cloudy, with subtle yeastiness and enhanced hop character. Modern examples vary in their malt to hop balance and many are not as hop-forward as Pilsner Urquell.

History

Commonly associated with Pilsner Urquell, which was first brewed in 1842 after construction of a new brewhouse by burghers dissatisfied with the standard of beer brewed in Plzeň. Bavarian brewer Josef Groll is credited with first brewing the beer.

Characteristic Ingredients

Soft water with low sulfate and carbonate content, Saazer-type hops, Czech malt, Czech lager yeast. Low ion water provides a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile despite high hopping rates. The bitterness level of some larger commercial examples has dropped in recent years, although not as much as in many contemporary German examples.

Style Comparison

More color, malt richness, and body than a German Pils, with a fuller finish and a cleaner, softer impression. Stronger than a Czech Pale Lager.

Vital Statistics

IBU

30 - 45

SRM

3.5 - 6

OG

1.044 - 1.060

FG

1.013 - 1.017

ABV

4.2% - 5.8%

Commercial Examples

Bernard Sváteční ležák, Gambrinus Premium, Pivovar Kout na Šumavě Koutská 12°, Pilsner Urquell, Pivovar Jihlava Ježek 11°, Primátor Premium, Únětická 12°.

3C. Czech Amber Lager

Overall Impression

Malt-driven amber Czech lager with hop character that can vary from low to quite significant. The malt flavors can vary quite a bit, leading to different interpretations ranging from drier, bready, and slightly biscuity to sweeter and somewhat caramelly.

Appearance

Deep amber to copper color. Clear to bright clarity. Large, off-white, persistent head.

Aroma

Moderate intensity, rich malt aroma that can be either bready and Maillard product-dominant or slightly caramelly and candy-like. Spicy, floral or herbal hop character may be moderate to none. Clean lager character, though low fruity esters (stone fruit or berries) may be present. Diacetyl is optional and can range from low to none.

Flavor

Complex malt flavor is dominant (medium to medium-high), though its nature may vary from dry and Maillard product-dominant to caramelly and almost sweet. Some examples have a candy-like to graham-cracker malt character. Low to moderate spicy hop flavor. Prominent but clean hop bitterness provides a balanced finish. Subtle plum or berry esters optional. Low diacetyl optional. No roasted malt flavor. Finish may vary from dry and hoppy to relatively sweet.

Mouthfeel

Medium-full to medium body. Soft and round, often with a gentle creaminess. Moderate to low carbonation.

Comments

The Czech name of the style is polotmavé pivo, which translates as half dark. This style is a combination of the Czech styles polotmavý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and polotmavé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P).

History

A Vienna-style lager which has continued to be brewed in the Czech Republic. A resurgence of small breweries opening in the Czech Republic has increased the number of examples of this style.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pilsner and caramel malts, but Vienna and Munich malts may also be used. Low mineral content water, Saazer-type hops, Czech lager yeast.

Style Comparison

The style can be similar to a Vienna lager but with Saazer-type hop character, or that approaching an English bitter but significantly richer with more of a deep caramel character. Large brewery versions are generally similar to Czech Premium Pale Lager with slightly darker malt flavors and less hop, while smaller breweries often make versions with considerable hop character, malt complexity, or residual sweetness.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 35

SRM

10 - 16

OG

1.044 - 1.060

FG

1.013 - 1.017

ABV

4.4% - 5.8%

Commercial Examples

Bernard Jantarový ležák, Pivovar Vysoký Chlumec Démon, Primátor polotmavý 13°, Strakonický Dudák Klostermann polotmavý ležák 13°.

3D. Czech Dark Lager

Overall Impression

A rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent. Malty with an interesting and complex flavor profile, with variable levels of hopping providing a range of possible interpretations.

Appearance

Dark copper to almost black color, often with a red or garnet tint. Clear to bright clarity. Large, off-white to tan, persistent head.

Aroma

Medium to medium-high rich, deep, sometimes sweet maltiness, with optional qualities such as bread crusts, toast, nuts, cola, dark fruit, or caramel. Roasted malt characters such as chocolate or sweetened coffee can vary from moderate to none but should not overwhelm the base malt character. Low, spicy hop aroma is optional. Low diacetyl and low fruity esters (plums or berries) may be present.

Flavor

Medium to medium-high deep, complex maltiness dominates, typically with malty-rich Maillard products and a light to moderate residual malt sweetness. Malt flavors such as caramel, toast, nuts, licorice, dried dark fruit, chocolate and coffee may also be present, with very low to moderate roast character. Spicy hop flavor can be moderately-low to none. Hop bitterness may be moderate to medium-low but should be perceptible. Balance can vary from malty to relatively well-balanced to gently hop-forward. Low to moderate diacetyl and light plum or berry esters may be present.

Mouthfeel

Medium to medium-full body, considerable mouthfeel without being heavy or cloying. Moderately creamy in texture. Smooth. Moderate to low carbonation. Can have a slight alcohol warmth in stronger versions.

Comments

This style is a combination of the Czech styles tmavý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and tmavé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P). More modern examples are drier and have higher bitterness while traditional versions often have IBUs in the 18–20 range with a sweeter balance.

History

The U Fleků brewery has been operating in Prague since 1499. Many small, new breweries are brewing this style.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pilsner and dark caramel malts with the addition of debittered roasted malts are most common, but additions of Vienna or Munich malt are also appropriate. Low mineral content water, Saazer-type hops, Czech lager yeast. Any fruity esters are typically from malt, not yeast.

Style Comparison

The beer is the Czech equivalent of a dark lager ranging in character from Munich Dunkel to Schwarzbier, but typically with greater malt richness and hop character (aroma, flavor, and/or bitterness).

Vital Statistics

IBU

18 - 34

SRM

14 - 35

OG

1.044 - 1.060

FG

1.013 - 1.017

ABV

4.4% - 5.8%

Commercial Examples

Bohemian Brewery Cherny Bock 4%, Budweiser Budvar B:Dark tmavý ležák, Devils Backbone Morana, Pivovar Kout na Šumavě Koutský tmavý speciál 14°, Notch Černé Pivo, U Fleků Flekovský tmavý 13° ležák.

4. Pale Malty European Lager

This style category contains malty, pale, Pilsner malt-driven German lagers of vollbier to starkbier strength. While malty, they are still well-attenuated, clean lagers, as are most German beers.

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