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Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
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Des de Moor


From the cellar: Herold Czech Black Lager / Tmavé speciální pivo

Herold Tmavé speciální pivo

Tmavé speciální pivo

ABV: 5.3%
Origin: Březnice, Středočeský kraj, Czech Republic
First published: 5 February 2001

Another review from the  written for the pioneering Oxford Database (OBBD). I’ve left it uncorrected — so please read it in that historical spirit.

Herold, likely one of the world’s oldest breweries, has thankfully survived the upheavals in the Czech industry in recent years. It spent a period under US ownership but has been Czech-owned again since 2008. This beer has gone by several names including Bohemian Black Lager and Černý ležák (‘Black lager’).

The brewery, in a castle at Březnice, south of Prague, used to be a state-owned brewing research institute, and is known for re-introducing wheat beer to the Czech beer scene.  This beer is in the old style of black lager which, as , is also found in the eastern part of Germany.

The label boasts a recipe of four malts, Saaz/Žatec hops and a 70-day lagering period in the castle cellars, plus a gold medal which, if my extremely rudimentary grasp of Czech is holding up, was awarded at the Czech Beer Competition in 2000.

The beer is actually not quite black but a deep ruby, pouring lively with a nice head and a smooth, refreshing and malty-hoppy aroma, with yeasty notes despite no evidence of bottle conditioning. The initial palate is full-on bitter chocolate, with good malt character and some vanilla creaminess, complimented by peachy notes on the swallow: the overall smoothness speaks of conscientious lagering.

Then the Saaz shows itself with a marked, bracing hop kick in the finish. If memory serves, this beer has the edge in terms of character over a better-known Czech entrant in the style, Black Regent, so that gold medal may well have been deserved.

1 comment to From the cellar: Herold Czech Black Lager / Tmavé speciální pivo

  • Sounds like a really unique and sophisticated beer! Its always interesting to hear a bit of history on the brewery, too! The deep ruby color certainly adds an aesthetic appeal. Looking forward to giving it try!

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