By now I hope my readers have recovered from their revelry on St. Patrick’s Day.
With the holiday falling on a weekend, it seemed celebrations were more raucous than they’d been in years.
I’d devoted a good bit of space to focusing on the Irish and Irish-style beers available in the riverwards, and now — in a nod to the area’s Polish heritage — I’d like to discuss some of the Polish beer we have available to us.
I stopped at the New Wave Cafe (at 2620 E. Allegheny Ave.) for some beers. First up was the O.K. Beer/Okocim, served to me in a chilled glass. Like every other beer reviewed, it was a variation of the pale lager/pilsner style.
This beer had a bit of a sweet malt flavor and not much hops. Unfortunately, as the beer warmed up, it took on a more musty smell with a rougher, mineral-tasting finish.
Next was the Warka, a much lighter beer than the first. This beer had a very thin flavor; the only thing I could pick up on was some citrus from the hops. As this beer got warmer it did get a bit more bitter, though not in a good way.
The corn, or whatever adjunct was used in the beer, came out much stronger as well.
After stopping at the New Wave Café, I picked up my trek for Polish beers another day by buying a few bottles from Krakus Market (at 3150 Richmond St.). This time I started with Lomza Premium.
My first impression was that it smelled and tasted like Budweiser. I would say it had the fullest flavor of any of the beers I tried, and the one I would be most apt to order again.
Even when it warmed up a little, neither the malt nor the hops got offensive, and I could tell there was more real malt than corn or sugar in this beer.
The Lech Premium had a nice, yeasty aroma and was super-carbonated, like an American lite beer. Flavor-wise, though, it was thin and more like cider than beer — there is a lot of corn and sugar in this beer.
That became apparent the longer it sat.
My final beer was Zywiec Original, ordered at the Krakus Market. This beer smelled and tasted very off to me. But I don’t know if it does not fare well in shipping or if that is how the beer is supposed to taste.
It had a funky, musty aroma, as if the beer was bad, and had a thin, flat alcohol flavor. It reminded me of homebrews that had fermented too warm or had been rushed out the door too early.
I have heard that Zywiec makes a Baltic Porter, which is a lager version of a porter ale.
Despite my experience with their flagship beer, I am hoping I can find a Polish example of one of my favorite styles soon.
One positive with all of these beers is that all come in 500ml or just over 16-oz. pint bottles. All are over 5.2 percent ABV, even though most taste like lite beer.
Combined with a price around $3.50 to $4.50, there is a value here if you drink a lot of American lager.
With today’s article heavy on talk on light beer, I’d like to finish up discussing a craft beer that is a little more robust. Recently I found Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company’s Koko Brown on tap at Druid’s Keep (at 149 Brown St.).
Described as a Brown Ale, but tasting to me a bit more like a porter, this creamy beer is brewed with toasted coconut.
This may sound like a bit much when the weather is in the 80s, but I found it very refreshing on a warm Sunday afternoon, if a little sweet.
Toasted coconut works very well in beer. I recommend that my homebrewing readers give it a try sometime, even though my drinking companions did find it a bit thick and hard to finish a pint.
As an experiment, we were able to convince the bartender to blend the beer with Victory’s Donnybrook Stout (a dry stout, like Guinness). The resulting blend, which we dubbed the “Donny-nut”, was a lot less sweet and filling, and in some ways a nicer beer.
If you can’t find Koko Brown on tap at Druid’s, I have heard that some beer distributors now have cases available. ••
Tim Patton is a Fishtown resident, beer aficionado and brewer. His column is dedicated to showcasing everything that is great about enjoying beer in the riverwards. He can be contacted at email@example.com ••