THIS CZECH BEER HAS BEEN A LOCKDOWN LIFESAVER
Look, I know you can't judge a book by its cover ... right? But, if great packaging contains an awesome product, maybe the old adage doesn't quite hit the mark.
This is the case with Kozel Dark beer, definitely the best Czech beer I have tasted - and there are plenty of great Czech beers to choose from - and the can is just a work of art.
Produced by the brewery with perhaps the most unpronounceable name in the business - Velkopopovicky (I believe it's something like vell-co-pop-o-viska) - Kozel Dark can be bought in cans or bottles in Australia, but it is the can design that stands out in my mind.
The brand is famous for its goat logo (introduced well before the acronym G.O.A.T., or greatest of all time, came into existence) and it is beautifully displayed on the 500ml cans. The word "kozel" in Czech actually means "male goat". Apparently a French artist designed the goat logo sometime soon after World War I.
The beer has been brewed in the Czech town of Velke Popovice, south-west of Prague, since the late 19th Century, but beer making on the brewery's site is documented back to the late 14th Century. So, there is some history to this drop, that's for sure.
But, it's really about the taste right (although I would argue a beer should be judged on the entire experience). Well, this beer doesn't let you down.
I ordered a case of the beer after several weeks stranded in Sydney's Covid lockdown after test driving it (in bottles) on several Bring Beer Sundays with my mate David. We loved it then, but I didn't realise what a triumph it would be in the pandemic.
Firstly, it is not an overly alcoholic beer, and at 3.8% there is little risk of quietly overindulging in front of the latest Netflix series that has grabbed your attention.
Oh yeah ... the taste. Well, it's tremendous. It has a rich, creamy head like all good dark beers, but it's a bit different to many in the genre with a more hoppy taste than the usual heavy coffee/chocolate flavours, although these do still come through. I would say there is a little sweet caramel in the mouth (that's me trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about). It is certainly not a heavy winter beer, like many dark brews, and is as suited to summer imbibing as winter. Overall. it is an absolute winner.
I bought a case of 24 500ml Kozel Dark beers online through the Dan Murphy's website for around $70.
A little more trivia: If you ever get to the Czech Republic (almost impossible these Covid days), there are tours of the brewery at Velke Popovice and you can even meet the real-life goat mascot, whose name is Olda.