Wednesday 12 March 2008

Back to Bohemia

Chotěboř chateau

Thanks to a quick email exchange with Evan Rail, author of Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic and the Beer Culture blog, I have just learned about a monk-made abbey beer in the Czech Republic. Želiv is apparently the only monastery brewery in Central and Eastern Europe. And for me at least, what’s even more interesting is that we lived just around the corner from this place for years and never knew it existed.

Of course, back in the days when we lived (and actually met) in the small Bohemian town of Chotěboř, maybe 30 km up the road from the abbey, Fiona and I were more occupied with Czech lagers, like Gambrinus, Radegast and the locally brewed Rebel. Despite the small number of styles sampled, much research was carried out.

Well, we go back to Chotěboř to visit friends more or less every year, so next time we’re over there, we’ll have to take a short side trip to Želiv, visit the monastery and sample their beers.

Just one last note, which is neither here nor there really: on the Želiv Brewery website, there’s a nice graphic: a family tree of beer styles. It’s partly in Czech, but I think even non-Czech speakers can get the basic idea. It’s first divided into two major groups -- top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting beers -- then you get into the sub-groups and individual types.


  1. Želiv makes three top fermented beers, two of them are very nice. I reviewed all in my Spanish blog a few months ago. Gottschalk, is an amber that to be honest didn't impress me much bottled, but I loved it when I had it on tap some time later. The one I liked the most was Castulus, flavoured with mead, a very interesting and well accomplished beer.
    In fact, they have considerably improved in the last couple of years. The first time I had a Želiv I didn't like it the least bit.
    Prompted by you, I think I will translate the reviews to the English blog, prior having another go at the beers.

  2. And some good news just in: a friend of mine is currently visiting Prague and has promised to bring me a bottle of each of the three Želiv beers. So, I should get to try them even sooner than I expected.

  3. Well, ain't that good news.
    Don't expect anything similar to your average small Berlgian Abbey beer. They are a bit more "mainstream", and in bottles they are unfortunately pasteurised. Otherwise, they are quite fine drinks.

  4. Yes, I saw that somewhere. Weird. What ever happened to bottle fermented? I thought that was the monkish way...

  5. These monks might be a bit more modern. They have improved, I remember once having the Siard Falco, the cherry flavoured one, and finding it simply undrinkable. Last time I had it, didn't make me tremble in delight, but it was fine.
    Perhaps someday they will start bottle fermenting. Hope so, those beers have a lot of potential.


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