Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Pint Glass, or Mug
The Lomza Brewery introduced their Mocne (pronounced “muhtz-neh”, which means “strong”) in 1998. Due to the strange alcohol labeling guidelines we have in this country, the label is adorned not with “Mocne,” but with “Malt Liquor” (although the Lomza folks did manage to get Mocne on the cap). The term malt liquor is often applied to beer over 6% ABV, regardless of its actual style and quality. Whatever the regulators want to call it, this is an all barley malt strong lager that pours an apple-juice-like golden copper with a sizable head that leaves good lace. On the nose, look for crackery and lightly toasty malts overlaid with notes of lemony and herbal noble hops, along with a vague underlying cedar-like impression. On the palate, expect notes of caramel, prominent honey-like sweetness, mild apple, candied orange peel, and a hint of white grape juice. Hops offer a light herbal bitterness, but are subdued to let the sweetness take a leading role. A note of alcohol, which comes through fairly low-key given the ABV (but increases with warmth), does join the hops to provide a bit of balance. Oily and viscous, this brew would make a great complement to a sweet and spicy dish like General Tso’s Chicken, or a plate of very sharp or tangy cheeses.
While we don’t typically think of Poland as a brewing powerhouse, it would certainly be wrong to underestimate the brewing culture of this nation and its proud people. The history of Polish brewing goes back at least one thousand years, to the beginnings of the Polish state itself, and the Poles have been able to help preserve certain beer styles, like the Baltic Porter, that in many other places died out. Currently, Baltic Porters can be enjoyed well outside of the north-eastern area of Europe due in no small part to the handful of brewers who helped preserve the style – including prominent brewers in Poland. Unfortunately certain other styles of beer have not been so lucky, such as Poland’s own Grodziskie, an unusual smoked wheat ale that essentially died out when the last brewer to make it closed down during the 1990s.
The Lomza Brewery (spelled “Łomża” in Polish and – we’ll try our best here – pronounced “wom-zhah” – the “zh” sort of like the “g” in “mirage”) was founded in 1968 in the city of Lomza, an area specifically chosen after intensive chemical analysis for its excellent local water. Focused primarily on servicing their local market in northeast Poland, they do export limited quantities of their beers to other countries – for which we’re quite grateful. The fall of the iron curtain certainly helped in that regard. By 1994, food and beverage companies in Poland began to leave state control and privatize, allowing them the flexibility to adapt to the new markets that had now opened up to them around the world. It was in 1997 that Lomza began exporting to the U.S., in response to the impassioned pleas of Poles living here in America.
If you can read Polish and would like to learn more, visit www.browarlomza.pl.
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