A review of Polish brews

This week's Think Beer…Drink Beer cel­eb­rates Port Rich­mond's Pol­ish her­it­age with a look at Pol­ish brews on tap throughout the river­wards.

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 Caf&ea­cute;, 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 tim@stben­jamin­brew­ing.com ••

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