Monday, 11 October 2010

FABPOW! Venison Burgers with Kocour Višňový Ležák

The 1-litre plastic bottle of Kocour Višňový Ležák had been in the fridge since I returned from Prague over a month ago. I picked it up from the bottle shop attached to Zly Casy, one of the coolest beer bars in town, because I couldn’t resist it: a litre plastic bottle, bold branding and sour cherries. It hadn’t been drunk yet because I couldn’t decide when to open it, or if I wanted to share it, or what to eat with it. After a long week at work I needed a big glass of beer, opening the fridge I saw the giant bottle and the yellow label shone like a beam of sunlight on a grey October Friday.

I opened the bottle before I started to cook dinner. In order to get to the point of cooking I’d walked around Waitrose for half an hour with an empty basket intermittently picking things up and putting them back again, eventually settling on venison burgers, burger rolls and mustard, plus some bacon because there was going to be leftover rolls and it was more sensible to spend £3 on bacon than throw away 40p worth of rolls, naturally.

The beer is 4.7% and has sour cherry essence added. It pours a deep amber, edging towards conker red. The aroma is immediately cherries, like candy but not so sweet, a little floral like blossom. It’s smooth and crisp, the dark malts give toast and a little chocolate, which develops throughout; the cherry is fruity but not sharp, fragrant and floral but never over the top; cocoa comes through and mixes with the cherry in a great way, like a pre-mixed version of sweet kriek and dark chocolate, only in a way that’s subtle enough to make you work for it and jump for olfactory joy when you get it.

The burgers were simple: meat, slightly-toasted rolls, onions caramelised with chilli, ketchup (to one I also added gherkins, tomato and burger mustard but it was too much – the simple one worked best). With the beer it was perfection. Venison is often paired with cherries or chocolate so having a beer which gave both was fantastic, adding a touch of sweetness to the meat, while also being robust enough with the darker malts to handle the charred edges of the burger, with the sweet and spicy onions pulling it together like a group hug and the fragrant hops acting like a refresh button after each mouthful.

This was an impromptu food and beer match discovered through indecision and a little serendipity. Beer and burgers are universally great, no matter what the burger or the beer, but sometimes they can power beyond great and they can become FABPOWs


  1. Nice. I managed to wedge 6 bottles of Kocour beers in the suitcase, on top of the 11 other bottles. Missus wasn't too impressed, but she managed the case OK.

  2. Haha, nice work :)

    What beers did you get? I had the Kocour IPA a few weeks ago and thought it was excellent.

  3. Burger and beer are universally great, no matter what the burger or what the beer. You been in the Humphrey Bean of late?

  4. Sounds good to me. How about a side of parsnip and potato game chips? :P

  5. Is it true that mad phil lowry has been pushed out as brewer at vinopolis? if so that's a shame. yes, he lacks social skills but his beer was pretty decent!

  6. Hi Mark,

    I bought Lezak, English Pale Ale (2 off), Lezak Tmavy, IPA Samurai, Studentska Desitka from Kulovy Blesk in Prague.

    They had about four Kocour beers, 2 Matuska and a Kout na Sumave Desitka on tap.

    The best of the bottles was the IPA Samurai, but all the beers were good. I'd definitely look out for these PET bottles for Czech beers in future. The litre bottles weigh almost the same as a half litre glass bottle.

    The one thing I have noticed wth Czech beers is that they don't tend to keep well (At least the lower strength beers don't).



  7. Anon - I disagree! I've been saved by a 'Spoons beer and burger many times!! And only a few quid - bargain!

    Londonism - I believe has has stopped brewing there but Angelo and Steve are still brewing. They are making some cracking beers so I hpoe they can keep it up!

    Mark - Great selection of bottles. If you are on twitter then look up Odddogmike as he's trying to export Mutuska and Kocour to the UK! I'd be very happy if he does. We had a couple of pints of the English Pale Ale in Prague and loved it. Had some fantastic Kout na Sumave on draught too. Lovely stuff - you've got me craving a cracking Czech lager now!