Pivovar Samson - Praga Dark Lager
Serving Temperature:45-50° F
Suggested Glassware:Pilsner Glass, Flute
This World Beer Championships Gold Medal winner pours a deep chestnut reddish-brown color topped by a head of brown foam. Dark lagers are usually malt-oriented brews, and Praga's version is no exception. On the nose, look for notes of fresh brown bread, toasted bread crust, caramel, hints of toffee and chocolate, and a subtle undercurrent of red fruit. Rich toasty and caramel notes hit upfront in the flavor department, along with plenty of toffee, delicate chocolate tones, and some nuttiness. The Czech Saaz noble hops offer a lightly bitter counterpoint to the sweeter malty impressions, along with a lightly spicy, herbal note. A tasty beer on its own, Praga Dark Lager also makes an excellent companion to grilled and roasted meats, including sausages. It's also a good foil for spicy barbecue, as the beer's light sweetness complements sweeter sauces while simultaneously contrasting with and taming the spicy heat. You also can't go wrong with a snack of pungent cheeses, or a simple dessert of milk chocolate-covered caramel truffles. Na zdraví!
České Budějovice, the largest city in South Bohemia, is among the historic epicenters of Czech brewing tradition. Known as Budweis in German, the city can date its brewing history as far back as the rule of the Czech “Iron and Golden King” Přemysl Otakar II in 1265. Various disputes, alliances, and political struggles among competing brewing interests occurred over the next few hundred years until, in 1795, the Administration Budweiser Bürgerbräu was formed to control the city’s main brewing enterprises. This was the dawn of the brewery we know today as Samson. The organization ultimately became a private brewing company in 1871, and it was during that decade that the brewery became the official supplier to the court of the German Württemberg kings under Wilhelm II.
It was around this time, as well, that pilsner beer (named after the Bohemian city of Plzeň) began sweeping the world. Anheuser-Busch introduced their take on pilsner beer in America under the name Budweiser as a nod to the Czech origins of the style. Unsurprisingly, Budweiser Bürgerbräu would also sell beer known as Budweiser, as would another Budweis brewery named Budvar. At the time it didn’t matter; the American and Central European markets were thousands of miles away. But in the 20th century, conflict over the brand names would ultimately force agreements among the breweries regarding where they could market their respective beers under the Budweiser name.
In 1945, during World War II, Budweiser Bürgerbräu (then under the occupying Germans' control) was damaged by Allied bombings. Following the war, the brewery was repaired but, like other breweries throughout Czechoslovakia, fell into restrictive communist state-run control. Luckily, the fall of the communist government led to the privatization of the brewery once more, and a decade of modernization and expansion was launched in the early 1990s. Now operating under the name Pivovar Samson, which it adopted in 1960, the brewery offers an array of authentic lager beers throughout the Czech Republic. We’re excited to bring you a sampling of these excellent brews this month.
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