Don’t be afraid of the dark
Words by Jonny Tyson
For most drinkers, you say ‘lager’ and only one thing comes to mind: 4 to 5% ABV, yellow, fizzy and cold. That’s about the size of it. They may well have a loyalty to a brewery or brand, but when it comes down to it, they know what they like and they like what they know.
Dark beer? Surely that means a pint of stout, or a ‘twiggy brown’ ale from a hand pump?
Lager isn’t a single type of beer. It’s far more complex than that. It’s a beer that’s been made with cool-fermenting lager yeast. It can be gold, amber, brown or even black. It can be any strength, from 1 to 10% ABV, there are styles like Dunkel and Schwarzbier in Germany, (meaning dark and black beer). Most people have been missing out on a whole world of flavour, style and colour that deliver a range of delicious beers, each one with its own delectable personality.
Well, there’s a style of beer that isn’t that well known in the UK. It used to be a style that was the most popular in Bavaria until the 20th century and was popular in Czechia in the late 1700s. Of course, the arrival of pale golden lagers swept the nation in the late 1800s, glassware was cheap and accessible to the common people. Who wouldn’t want to gaze at the light dancing through the golden suds before you quench your thirst?
Poor old Tmavé Ležák (that’s dark lager to you and me). It seemed to be a style that had been left behind, a forgotten loyal friend who was there through thick and thin.
THE BIRTH OF
n May 2004 two talented brewers decided to collaborate and recreate this neglected classic. Adam Brož, Budvar Brewmaster, and Aleš Dvořák, official Budvar Beer Sommelier got together and created a recipe to re-introduce Czech dark lager to a new generation. A fresh take on a bygone favourite. This month this beer celebrates its 16th birthday, so why not raise a glass and taste what the Czechs have been enjoying for a while now?
Made with the best quality Moravian malted barley, with the addition of caramalts, Munich malt and a touch of roasted malt, the brewery’s own artesian well water and of course, the whole-cone Saaz hops that give the signature character to its better-known sibling, Budvar Original. Fermenting this beer is much the same as the Original, with a leisurely 12 days required. It is then transferred to the cool horizontal lagering tanks for over six weeks to condition, develop and for the flavours to meld into the beer the brewers want it to be.
The profile of the beer, as always with Budvar, is one of harmony. It has a modest 24 IBU (International Bitterness Units) from the hops, but the roast of the specialty malts gives the beer a note of bitterness too. It’s a combination that balances the touch of sweetness from the caramalts and ties the profile together. Budvar Dark manages to tread the tightrope that keeps it refreshingly drinkable, while delivering a fistful of flavour. Notes of roasted malt, baked caramel, a touch of ground coffee and cocoa are joined with aromatic floral hints and brown bread.
Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? And it is!
THE DARK SIDE
hy are so many people afraid of the dark? It’s time to take a leap of faith. This beer doesn’t bite, it caresses the palate, feeds the senses and refreshes the soul. Ok – well I may be laying it on a bit thick, but this is a great beer and deserves some attention.
Dark lager as a style suits many people if you take more than a quick glance. For the pale lager drinker, it still gives refreshment, familiar carbonation but a rounder, fuller flavour. For the real ale drinker, it gives a great malt-driven flavour, perfect balance but a lighter body and bit more sparkle. Now is a great opportunity to try it out as we launch our e-shop. You can buy the range of Budvar beers, including Budvar Dark, at the click of a button. Do you want to just try a couple? No problem, we’ll make up a mixed case for you so you can just add them in. Shop here!
So, what’s holding back our timid drinker? “I don’t like heavy beers” That’s the usual response I’ve heard over the years. People drink with their eyes and mistake colour for flavour and body. Why not give it a try on the anniversary of its creation? Budvar Dark is anything but heavy, it’s a dark beer with a light touch.