I do rather like writing beer blogs (and other alcoholic beverages) on Saturdays. When Cinabar told me that Budweiser Budvar had sent me a lager, I was immediately looking forward to writing about it. What I didn’t realise until opening the box was that there were three lagers from the Czech Republic. You may think that getting sozzled writing a beer blog on a Saturday afternoon is fun, but even us bloggers have deadlines. Besides, then I noticed one of the lagers was non-alcoholic…
I have enjoyed B-Original before, but I thought I’d write a few words about it. On opening the 5% volume lager I took in a deep breath of the Saaz Aroma hops. That initial bite of hops quickly merges with the Moravian Malt leaving a crisp fresh taste of quality lager in my mouth. The soft water is drawn from wells 300 metres below the ground. So no wonder there is an earthy freshness to this lager. Checking out the 330ml bottle label further I found that Budweiser Budvar have been brewing their beer for 700 years in this way. Steeped in tradition, crisp bitterness, malty goodness… I have a new respect for this lager. Especially as someone else had bought it for me!
This non-alcoholic offering is also served in a 330ml bottle. The label mentions the wells, so the soft water is the same, but doesn’t mention the Saaz Hops or the Moravian Malt. However, a good non-alcoholic beer in my mind should simply taste exactly like an alcoholic beer. Now you may say that’s unlikely, but I have recently drank a few non-alcoholic beers and been blown away by their taste sensation. So much so that I just couldn’t tell there was no alcohol in them.
After savouring the B-Original and still having that crisp fresh bitterness and malty goodness in my tastebuds, I reached for the B-Free. On opening this B-Free there was less of a fizz, which is odd, because that’s surely just carbonation? It also didn’t smell anything like the B-Original. It didn’t smell particularly hoppy, in fact it smelt more of barley malt. Of course it didn’t have to, as it didn’t promise anywhere on the label that it would taste or smell anything like the B-Original, so I shook off my foolish notions and poured the beer.
The B-Free poured with a decent head and looked much the same as the B-Original. On taste it was a completely different kettle of fish. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted such a malty beer. This was definitely not a lager in any sense. Checking the label it never promised to be, so I figured I’d probably drunk the B-Original a bit too quickly… B-Free is a heavily malted beer with hardly any of the bitterness you’d expect from additional hops. Here the hops sit underneath the malted barley flavour and are used simply as a preservative. And why not, why should it taste anything like it’s older brother? This B-Free sits on the opposite side of the table. If someone gave it to me in a bar, I doubt I’d be able to tell that it didn’t have any alcohol in it. If someone said that was a Budweiser Budvar I may laugh and say, “it doesn’t taste anything like Budweiser!” but why should it? Why should one product made by a company taste anything like another? Diversification is the key here… and I’m glad of the spell checker, because that B-Original went straight to my head!
It’s rare I have two beers in a row these days. I only really have more than one beer when I’m off on my holidays somewhere. So three beers in a row was an even rarer treat indeed. After being told off by Cinabar during a prolonged bout of uproarious belching and manic giggling I opened the B-Dark lager.
Produced in a 500ml bottle this B-Dark lager has a combination of Pale, Munich, Caramel, and Roasted malts pitted against the Budweiser Budvar traditional Saaz hops. On opening this B-Dark there was a roasted malt smell mixed with the sweetness from the Caramel malt. The beer was almost jet black in colour and I immediately understood the comment on the label about this beer being “straight from the heart of darkness”. This seems like the type of beer I’d drink on a dark stormy night with the fire on and the lights down low. And wow on taste this is another world apart from the B-Original and B-Free. This is a strong hearty beer with notes of coffee in the roasted malt, and an edge of sweetness towards the aftertaste. In between this roasted malty flavour and sweetness come hints of the other malts and an indication of bitterness from the Saaz hops, but this beer is really about the roast and no mistake. Full of flavour this beer has its own original black magic and is really something quite special indeed!