Pivovar Zlatý Bažant - Golden Pheasant
- ABV: 5.0%
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass
Zlatý Bažant means Golden Pheasant, and is a nod to the large numbers of the bird found in the region around Hurbanovo. Unlike the big U.S. beer makers, who stretch out their barley with large additions of cheaper corn and rice, Slovak producers use 100 percent barley, most of it grown and processed in Slovakia. This makes nearly any Slovak-made beer richer, with more body and depth of flavor, than any of the watery U.S. brand-name beers. That’s certainly true for Golden Pheasant, which benefits greatly from the fresh malt produced by the brewery’s own malt house. Expect spicy herbaceous hop aromas with toasty pale malt notes. The clean malt profile gives way to grassy, zesty, and citrusy hop notes which reflect the noble hop varieties the region is world-famous for, with a lingering hop bitterness and a distinct finishing note reminiscent of dried autumn leaves. Winner of a Silver Medal in 2005 at the World Beer Championships, this is a very food-friendly beer; you can throw it at just about anything. We served it up with some grilled burgers packed with jalapeño and chunks of cheddar cheese served on lightly toasted sourdough buns. Na zdravie!
Located near the southernmost tip of Slovakia near the northern border of Hungary, in the small town of Hurbanovo, stands Pivovar Zlatý Bažant. You might already be aware that a town known as Plzeň, in Bohemia, is the place where in 1842 the most consumed style of beer in the world was invented (Pilsner). The brewing heritage of the nearby Slovak Republic is not as famous as that of the Czechs, but it is quite esteemed nonetheless. The geography and history of the land mean that brewers in this region have unrestricted access to all things brew: the best hops, grains, yeast strains, and – critically – the softest water in the world, making the region especially well-suited to brewing pilsner.
With these resources at their disposal, Pivovar Zlatý Bažant was started in 1968 as a state-owned enterprise to supply beer to Western Slovakia. Along with the brewery, a malt house was constructed to supply fresh malt for the brewing operations. As a part of the massive European beer market consolidation, the brewery was purchased in 1995 by Heineken in what was the first investment by a major brewing corporation in this region since the fall of Communism. However, beer lovers rest assured: this beer has not been spoiled by the massive enterprise that is Heineken; in fact, their investment in the business enabled Zlatý Bažant to pursue a much-needed modernization.
Today, Zlatý Bažant’s malting operations are the largest and most modern in Central and Eastern Europe. Their Pilsner, which we bring you this month, is made in the same brewery that brought it to life in 1968 according to the original recipe. One sip and you'll understand why it hasn’t changed. It’s not a ghostly silhouette of a true Pilsner like those passing for the style among the mass-market U.S. beers, and even many in Europe; instead, it is an authentic, rich, aromatic, and crisp Pilsner to be savored with the best of them. Enjoy!
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