Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Lager of the week — Brackie
Polish lagers in the shops and all you can get are Tyskie, Lech and Zywiec, but for Brackie you will have to save up your carbon units and travel to the town of Cieszyn on the Polish-Czech border. This is an unsung local lager brewed in an old run-down place that also produces the peerless Zywiec Porter. You get to somewhere like this, with the owners Heinken hovering in the background, and you think as you are offered something golden in the glass that it will be ok, and just ok, and that you will think as you taste (as I once did in a French brewery), oh oh that’s rice and that’s a quick fermentation — and that’s the door out of here. But not with Brackie — this was a revelation. Dark gold in colour it offered a bitter tang on the palate and finish; there was also a great whisk of gently toasted (or maybe lightly kilned) cereal keeping company, while at the centre of the palate there was a sherberty lemon-like centre. For a country whose lagers have been noted for their strength (this is 5.5% though) rather than subtlety this had a remarkably resiny hop character that had me — in the words of Bryan Ferry — billing and cooing. Given that this was once Silesia and part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire I wondered if that country’s brewing influence somehow had managed to survive the upheavals of the 20th century; if so then it was another example of beer’s remarkable ability to transcend the differences of nations (we will never see this beer in the West and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were left to wither on the vine, but it did provide me with one of my more memorable lager moments).