19 June 2014

The Balkan route

I don't think I've ever reviewed any beers from Romania before. I have Richard to thank for this lot, acquired via a colleague of his.

Taking them in order of strength, we start with Timișoreana Brună, from Ursus, the Romanian incarnation of SABMiller. This is 5% ABV and an attractive chestnut red. Sweetness is the modus operandi here: a major dark molasses treacle tang. It does benefit from the modest strength, however, as it doesn't get sticky or difficult as it goes. Instead it's a perfectly decent and clean, if rather plain, red lager.

Silva raises the stakes a little, bringing us up to 6% ABV.  This offering from Heineken Romania is red again, though a little paler than the foregoing, and there's an extra complexity with that extra alcohol. Starting out with a kind of burnt caramel flavour, it then mellows to a sweet fruity strawberry effect which I rather enjoyed. Only the building alcohol heat takes away from the drinkability.

And at 7% ABV there's Ursus Black, which I'm presuming like the others is a lager, so broadly a Baltic Porter, I suppose. Balkan Porter, anyone? It certainly has the heavy liquorice effect that's normally found in Baltic Porter, though not really a whole lot else. There's a back-of-the-palate dryness which adds an Irish stout note to proceedings but does little to improve the flavour. The same can be said of the pervading mustiness. This is very nearly an excellent beer and is probably the one I'd end up drinking most of if I were in-country with only these options, or crappy pale lager. I'm sure it gets better after the second one.

And because it doesn't deserve a post all of its own I'm throwing this in here from the same tasting, kindly (?) supplied by Reuben. It's called Euphoria and is one of those central European hemp beers plainly intended to appeal to stoner kids. I am genuinely a fan of hemp in beer: when it's done well it adds a lovely peppery piquancy to the taste. But such examples never come behind lurid labels like this one. Instead, this sort tend to be very sweet and taste horribly of melted plastic, and here we have no exception. It's a particularly sweet example, being all brown sugar and bad lager. There's maybe, maybe, a hint of green herbal sharpness on the end, but nowhere near enough to justify any time spent drinking this. Leave it to the teenagers to bring back from the school trip to Prague in order to impress their friends.


  1. What was the name of the porterhouse hemp beer? I recall it being really good.

    1. It was called "Hemp Beer". Here's my review, in which I'm amazed that a beer can taste of grapefruit.

  2. Hadn't realised it was 9 years ago! Also that it was so imaginatively named, ah back in the day before hops had citrus flavours...