It’s not usually done to return to one’s failures as a blogger. Especially if that failure involves a beer that you didn’t really like all that much. However, it’s not every day that I find a new can of Polish lager in the corner shop and the part of my brain that craves fizzy beer from a tin kicked me into action. Sat beside the green cans of Żubr, the Polish one rather than its blue-canned Czech relative that I was schooled on by Polish commenters, was a new, brown and gold version - Żubr Ciemnozłoty.
As usual when I mention Polish lager, I have the following caveat: despite having Polish relatives a mere pair of generations back up the family tree, my command of the language is non-existent and all errors below are due to Google translate and my mis-overhearing of conversations with the Polish posse at work. With that out of the way, I shall begin.
Firstly, the name. As I got right last time (one of the only things I did), Żubr means ‘Bison’ and refers to the European Bison that still roam the continent in small numbers. From what I can make out Ciemnozłoty means ‘dark golden’, something that makes sense now that I’ve poured and drunk the beer:
The regular Żubr is a regular looking golden coloured lager, but this is something a little different – dark amber although with a very clean white head. Some translation of the can reveals a bit more:
Firstly, the flash on the front – from my knowledge of Polish beer can words ‘Mocny intensywny smak’ means ‘strong, intense flavour’, which doesn’t really say much. However, on the back it reveals that the reason why it’s ‘Dark golden in colour, rich in taste’ is due to the ‘unique combination of precious malts’, ‘two types of hops’ and ‘higher extract content’, ie more sugary goodness pulled out of the grain before fermentation.
The word ‘nowy’, meaning ‘new’, also appears on the can. Either they got a lot of cans printed up or this one took a while to get over to the UK (the best before date is May 2014) as the first mention I can find of it in the blogosphere is mid-2011 and a Facebook page started shortly after, which means this doesn’t really count as new any more. The ABV does seem to have dropped a little since then, so it could well just be a new recipe.
On the nose there’s lots of maltiness, with light caramel sweetness and a touch of green, hoppy bitternes. To taste it’s really sweet – Golden syrup, honey and caramel. Behind that is a little bit of bitterness, but not all that much. The bitterness grows in the finish, although there’s also a chunk of graininess and the sweetness doesn’t go away.
Flavour profile-wise, I would probably have guessed this was a mass produced American amber ale, or one of the ‘daring’ craft beers turning up from some of the larger UK brewers. It’s not got much character, but does have a big chunk of sweetness that makes it a bit too much for me. However, I did find that it hid its 6.5% rather well, which is at least something.
In closing, it has a video ad. Compared to other Polish beer ads I’ve find this one is quite boring, other than its use of CGI animals, which I rather like. There’s something soothing about a snorting CGI bison:
I’m not up on idiomatic Polish, but I’m not entirely sure how ‘Waiting for the clearing’ works as a catchphrase, but I suspect the marketers at Kompania Piwowarska know better than me…
If you understand Polish then ignore all the rubbish above and head on over to Tomasz Kopyra’s blog – he’s got a video about the beer that I understand none of, but suspect says much.
Fun things I have learned about the Polish language, #27 - ł is pronounced a bit like an English w.
Dark Golden Polish Beer, 6.5%. £1.50 from your local cornershop, or about 50p a can if you’re in Poland