Colorado can claim its corner on plenty of beer styles. But until now, traditional Czech lagers haven’t received the kind of loving attention that they’re getting at a new Denver neighborhood taproom.
Cohesion Brewing is the first of its kind in the state, focusing on Czech-style lagers and Czech beer-drinking traditions.
At the taproom’s bar in the Clayton neighborhood, the first thing you’ll notice are front-and-center imported Lukr brass tap towers and their side-pouring faucets on display.
Cohesion’s tapsters (as they’re referred to in Czech breweries) can explain the differences between a handful of low-ABV lager options available on tap and the three pour styles for them.
If you go
Cohesion Brewing, 3851 Steele St., 303-997-7016. Open 2-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. cohesionbeer.com
But the difference is easy to spot if you order your lager in either a snyt (pronounced “shnit,” meaning half-foam, translating to slice) or mlíko pour (pronounced “mlee-ko,” meaning full-foam, translating to sweet).
“You get that mixture of beer and foam a lot more with these beers,” Cohesion co-founder and brewer Eric Larkin said of traditional Czech drinking culture. “It’s this rich, creamy frothiness that sits in your mouth with the beer … and each pour offers a different experience.”
In the mlíko, for example, “you get just this glimmer of gold (lager) at the bottom and all white (foam) above it, and you just chug it,” Larkin said.
Meanwhile, the snyt pour evens out to about half-beer, half-foam in the glass, and it signifies something like, “I’m running late, but pour me another,” he explained.
Larkin, a former Allagash and Odd13 brewer, first fell for the Czech beer tradition on a trip to Eastern Europe with his wife and business partner, Lisa. Prior to traveling there, he hadn’t experienced such a seriously heady beer. And he figured the same would be true for other American drinkers.
“They take such pride in pouring beer,” he said of Czech tapsters.
As for the lagers themselves, “the beer that I give people is also not so complex that we need to have a 30-minute discussion about it,” Larkin said. “We can … but sometimes you just want something that’s just a beer.”
While American palates over the last decade or more have grown accustomed to increasingly hoppy beers, brewers like Larkin have enjoyed getting back to the basics with beers such as the traditional lager, whose flavor comes down to its malt base and its brewing technique.
“Brewers have been interested in lagers on a craft scale for 10 years or so,” Larkin said. “Lagers are repeatable beers, and they’ve been around forever, and they’ve always been a challenge to brew, because you can’t hide anything in a lager.”
So Larkin starts with local malts, from Troubadour Maltings in Fort Collins. He uses decoction mashing (common in the Czech Republic), which makes all the difference in his lagers’ depths of flavor. And he utilizes common Czech practices like open fermentation, horizontal lagering and traditional spunding, or natural carbonation.
“They have all this beer history and have given so much to beer around the world,” Larkin said of the Czech. “I just wanted to look at a tradition and honor it really well.”
As a result, the beers and, heck, even the foams are so easily drinkable. Four current brews on tap from 3% to 5% ABV showcase single, double and triple-decocted lagers, and a range of subtle malt flavors therein — from floral to malty-sweet, herbaceous, rich and toasted.
And if you have no desire to go for the half- or full-foam pours, just ask for a hladinka, or “perfect pour” (which is what the tapsters will give you anyway), and maybe a shot of mlíko on the side.
Did you know?
Pilsner is a common term in the United States, but in Czech, it’s reserved for one beer only: Pilsner Urquell, the first documented pale lager — hailing from Plzen in 1842 — that has served as a model for all that have followed.
The Plato gravity scale is used by most brewers around the world to measure a beer wort’s concentration of dissolved solids, which will translate to the finished beer’s alcohol content. Cohesion names its beers in Czech (see svetlé for pale and tmavé for dark) and also with increasing degrees Plato (8-12 on the menu).
Czech beers can be found at many other taprooms, too. Check out Denver’s Seedstock Brewery on West Colfax for multiple interpretations. Farther afoot, try out Notch Brewing in Salem, Mass.
Na zdraví is Czech for cheers!
Denver Post reporter Tiney Ricciardi contributed to this story.
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news sent straight to your inbox.
Source: Read Full Article