Lager is cool again — among craft beer fans anyway. For others, its popularity never went away in the first place. Either way, we're now seeing more and more breweries up and down the UK producing excellent Pilsner and Helles beers. The only thing is, their beer is almost always German style.
The team at Bohem Brewery are offering something a little different: traditional Bohemian lagers brewed by Czechs right here in the UK. They even have a lager manifesto which sets out their commitment to quality and authenticity. This means quality ingredients, specialised brewing and respect for the beer. Furthermore, everything Bohem brews are unfiltered and unpasteurised, so you get to taste the full flavour.
This week's beer, Otakar, was Bohem's first collaboration brew, created with Roger Ryman from St Austell Brewery in Cornwall. The recipe was originally developed for a one-off beer called Korev Brut. For Otakar, Roger transported St Austell's yeast up to London to brew the Czech way on Bohem's specialist decoction brewing kit.
Bohem is the only brewery in the UK to regularly use this method, which involves removing part of the liquid during the brew and heating it to a higher temperature before returning it to the original vessel. It sounds like a faff, but it leads to better sugar extraction which in turn adds the depth, complexity and flavour which characterises authentic Czech lagers. Once brewed, the beer is lagered long and cold, as all lagers should be, to allow its character to mature.
Otakar is a 6.4% ABV Brut Lager, authentically lagered at low temperature for six weeks, and regally named for the several King Otakars, who ruled Bohemia, which is today within the Czech Republic. The initial aroma and taste of Otakar is fresh and vibrant with light citrus tones of lemon and grapefruit peaking through. The hop bitterness lies low and this, combined with the soft carbonation, helps deliver a very easy drinking beer that belies its strength.
If you're close enough to Bohem's North London home, it's worth visiting their taproom to see for yourself the traditional Czech pours and the amazing way in which each one can make the same beer taste different. This is all down to the skills of Marek Průša, Bohem's Chief Tapster, the only Certified Pilsner Urquell Tapster pouring in the UK.
We think you'll enjoy this beer. It's a fresh taste of central Europe delivered right to your door. Na zdraví!
You can buy more of this beer here.