Svetky Lezak from Toronto’s Godspeed Brewery is astonishingly good, probably the best Bohemian-style beer I’ve had anywhere including Czech Republic (didn’t taste them all of course).
It has a notable softness of body, deep malty quality, and deep spicy/flowery hop flavour of true Saaz that just goes on and on. The hops leave a pleasing “medicinal” note that adds yet further complexity.
A Victorian beer observer (1875), Henry Vizetelly, used that very term, medicinal, to describe the Saaz effect, I now recall.
The current brewing of Svetly Lezak is particularly good as well, the brewery seems to have refined it to perfection. One hopes it will stay like this.
Certainly Godspeed makes some good beers – and some I don’t favour – but Svetly stands above them all, imo. See the website for descriptions of other beers.
The Svetly is for the purist of pils, who understands the unique Bohemian blonde lager palate. It uses double decoction, and long cold aging. The quality of the hops and the way they are added show maximum authenticity as well.
For the best all-round Ontario pils, I would elect a different beer, Amsterdam’s Pure Pilsener, but the Svetly rocks to a different beat really, more for the Czech purist.
The Pure Pilsener is a great all-rounder, combining elements of Czech, German, and craft beer. I think it would appeal to more people, as well, just an impression.
Pilsner Urquell, the great Czech avatar, speaks for itself, of course. Maybe the best way to put it is, all these represent the same tradition, but interpret it in their own way.
That is also true of this beer, from Slovakia.
Rounded and fruity/spicy from the Saaz hops, it has good body and drinkability. The brewery, Zlaty Bazant, originated in the 1960s. It has its own maltings, drawing barley from the region, and has made continual improvements to malting processes, which show in the beer.
(The website contains an outline of the malting process at the brewery).
The hops are handled though in a particularly skillful way, as for all the beers I’ve mentioned.
We get it within three months of brewing and it pours spanking fresh from the bottle.
Tasting such quality reminds me how an English pale ale could be as good, but so few are, in my experience. Even if English landrace hops and British malts are present, rarely is the palate assertive enough.
Often this results I think from insufficient hops used, an excessive attenuation limit, and too much sugar or grain adjunct.
Many craft pale ales and India Pale Ales I encounter day in day out have an intensity of malt and hop taste similar to what these pilseners attain. One need only brew an English pale ale the same way.