Although the original aim of this quest was to find an excellent, American-made, Czech-style Pilsner, I am prone to enjoying Czech beers that I am able to find in America–especially when that beer is particularly rare. When I went to Discount Liquor to pick up yet another $100 dollars worth of assorted booze, I noticed a Czech beer that I hadn’t seen before, even when I was in Europe: Zatec. (The “Z” has a reverse “^” on top, resulting in a “zh” sound; and the czech “c” is pronounced “ts” as in “tsar”. Thus the beer is pronounced “ZHA-tets”.)

At $2.69 for a 0.5 liter bottle, the price was reasonable, but high enough to respect. The bottle is sleek, with a classic blue, red and white label. The bottle cites the beer as being “since 1004”. This is hard to believe, as the brewery itself dates to 1801, and the beer itself from 1261 according to the brewery’s website. What happened in 1004, then? I’m not sure…but perhaps it marks the incorporation of the city of Zatec?Zatec

First of all, this beer (like all good Czech pilsners) presents itself magnificently! The color is a beautiful light amber, with perfect clarity, brisk and even carbonation, and a persistent, white fluffy head. The nose itself was simple: bready, with just a trace of hops. And the taste: like a quality pilsner should. Bready, with a sturdy hop spiciness throughout. The finish is clean, with a slight cidery (perhaps?) flavor. All in all, a very drinkable Czech pilsner, much like the beers I used to enjoy at the Submarine Bar (Ponorka) in Olomouc.

That said, the beer did little to separate itself from the pack. A quality pilsner, but probably not worth nearly $5.50 per liter. While you’re drinking a fine beer, the slightly high price comes more from its rarity that from its quality (as far as I can tell). A good Czech Pilsner, but not the best I’ve had.