Aaaaaaaand we’re back!
I had a message pop up from the good people at Revl the other day informing me that they have just got some imported Staropramen in stock – straight from the city of Prague!
Being a huge fan of Czech beer myself, I had to get in there before it sold out.
The first time I visited Prague I was simply blown away by the beer quality available. This led to another 5 trips back to the city to take advantage of some of the best beer I have ever tasted in my life (for half the price of a stale Foster in the UK).
Since then, I would constantly look for Czech beer like Staropramen in the UK wherever I could, trying to relive that bold malty taste which originally won me over. It had a smooth buttery flavour which made it almost creamy, with a hint of biscuit…the stuff is incredible!
Unfortunately, back in 2012 Coors took over Staropramen and gave the licence to produce it in the UK to Carlsberg. So it is no surprise that the taste I once fell in love with is a mere shadow of its former self, now being owned and produced by two of the worst beer producers in the world.
Now, I will be fair. UK Staropramen will still knock the socks off a lot of rival beers in the supermarket like Camden Hells, Carling, and Stella but it has fundamentally lost the essence of what made it special in order to cater for the mass market of the UK.
The imported Staropramen’s is still produced in the Czech Republic, the way the way it should be! So I thought it was a good opportunity to compare what Staropramen was and what it is today for the British consumer – with the only differences between them being the country of production.
Drinking the UK produced Staropramen, you will get an immediate taste and smell familiarly associated with other mass produced beers from the UK. Personally, this is not the quality I expect from Staropramen but something I expected with the likes of Coors, Carlsberg and other beer made for the mass market. This is no surprise considering it’s now made by these two companies.
There is a depth of flavour to the UK Staropramen which I have always associated with Staropramen, though it is not complex enough to be able to distinguish any specific flavours or characteristics. It also lacks that smooth, almost creamy aftertaste which I used to love about Staropramen.
Drinking the imported Czech beer, you noticed the same colour as you do with the UK Staropramen. After all, it’s the same recipe so there is little reason to think that it would look any different.
That familiar smell associated with mass produced beers which I found in the UK Staropramen is a lot softer and not so hard of the nose with the Czech brand.
What makes the Czech Staropramen stand out however is the more robust taste. The chemically aftertaste is long gone and has been replaced by an incredibly familiar taste of butter and a hint of biscuit. That creamy smooth taste I have long but craved is back!
In a lot of ways they are understandably similar. The look and the general flavour are pretty much the same. The fundamental difference is that you can actually taste the flavours in the Czech beer rather than having it stamped out with chemical noise afterwards which doesn’t quite mount up to anything at all. The UK brand is also bitter compared with the creamy taste and smoothness of the Czech made brand.
The UK Staropramen still has a deeper bold flavour when compared to a lot of other mass produced stuff in our market but it has lost that character which makes Czech beer so special. Any hope to get any tasting notes is impossibly hard.
Personally, it is a no brainer between the two of them, with any self respecting Czech beer enthusiast preferring the imported beer on a matter of principle but the quality is also a step up too.
The one thing that UK made beer has in its favour is the cost being half the price of the Czech version. Which begs the question, are you willing to import a beer for flavour or are you just looking to pound a few beers to get drunk?
With that question, your decision is made.
Thanks for reading!