Every day’s a school day they say, and when I tasted Poison City’s The Other Bird, I learnt two things. First, that Czech Dark Lager is a thing (with its own BJCP guidelines). And second, that The Other Bird is a damn good beer.
It didn’t start off too well. The head retention was pretty poor – a crown that looked more like rapidly popping Coke bubbles than nice creamy beer foam. But the head was really the only thing that let the beer down – from the first sniff I knew it was going to be a goodie. This is a malt-forward beer with prominent aromas of chocolate, toffee and a hint of dark fruit.
Part way through tasting I had a look for the style on the BJCP guidelines and found it under category 3: Czech Lager. I’ve never had the pleasure of judging (or indeed tasting) one before but I have to say that other than the head issue, The Other Bird pretty much nailed it. Everything I’d written in my notes – chocolate, toffee, dried fruit, complex, medium-low hop bitterness – it was all there in the guidelines.
It shouldn’t come as a great surprise I suppose. The recipe was developed by Czech brewing veteran Ladislav Vesely (whose son Petr was appointed Chief Brewer at SAB in 2015).
Poison City’s owners are hoping that The Other Bird will become their flagship beer and I think they might have just nailed it. Dark and complex enough to be sipped throughout winter, but refreshing enough to go with a summer’s day braai, it could become a year-round go-to for South African beer lovers. And speaking of braais, I think this is going to be a superb food beer – I’m thinking caramelised ribs, but would be keen to hear your suggestions.
Poison City beers are available nationwide. Catch the official Cape Town launch at Banana Jam Cafe on Wednesday 3rd May.