Overall Score 8/10 – Really enjoyed this one
I named this beer Bezcka Piwo because the direct translation from Polish is “Keg Beer.” As my first beer in these kegs that we bought, it seemed only appropriate. Admittedly, the fact it is not a Polish style beer might be confusing (though my next batch will be a distinctly Polish style of beer).
That said, Beczka Piwo is a delightful little dark mild. This is a style that I’ve always been fond of, but haven’t brewed before this batch. Let’s dive into it.
Notes of sweet, toasted malt give way to caramel and toffee – with a finish of something close to warm pipe tobacco. It’s warm, inviting, and well positioned for the changing of the seasons here in Chicago. Imagine a grandparents’ house where one loves to bake and the other has an occasional pipe, that’s the image I connect to its smell.
Unsurprisingly for this style of beer, hoppy notes are almost completely absent.
This beer’s flavor profile aligns extremely closely to its aroma – toasty, malty, and a slightly burnt (but not off-putting) caramel. While sweet, the Fuggle hops have done an excellent job of balancing the sweetness with a mild bitterness.
Its lower effervescence keeps the flavor on the tongue a bit longer I feel, like a malt candy. As the initial flavor begins to fade, the Maris Otter (one of my favorite malts) begins to shine. A delightful earthiness lasts for just a moment before inviting another sip – and its low ABV will allow many more sips.
Dark and clear, Beczka Piwo delivers what one might expect from an English dark mild. The beer masks visibility and definition after about half an inch. There isn’t much else to say here.
I really enjoyed making this beer, and enjoyed drinking it even more. My next attempt at something similar to this will likely use this as the base recipe, and perhaps add some more wintery adjuncts to it. Ginger, in particular, might go very well with this as a sort of holiday mild.
Now to pass it off to my co-brewer, who once exclaimed “if it’s below 6% what’s the point?”
Having grown up surrounded by corn fields and farmers, I can’t help but be reminded of the pervasive scent of grain that comes with having ever lived near a grain elevator. When I had to travel for track in high school, we’d routinely stop in Gibson City which was a major railstop for freight. It is as if all of those early spring nights came out of hiding in the form of a beer.
Beczka Piwo leaves the same taste on my tongue that a brew day does. While beer is traditionally comprised of four ingredient families, this one pays tribute to the heart of beer: malt. The flavor profile runs across the entire SRM scale stretching from the fresh grain I was so acquainted to in my youth all the way through the deeper roasted varietes reminiscent of toffee and caramel. Then, just as quickly as it comes, it bids adieu.
Unlike other dark ales, you’re still able to see through a glass of this. While I’m much more of a binary drinker (pun very much intended), it’s a nice dichotomy from the light and clear IPAs I’ve fancied through a brutally hot summer. Looking at Beczka Piwo reminds me that fall exists, and that we’ll eventually be freed from the tyranny of summer.
I’d drink it again, but the dark toffee flavor would be a good cover for a much “fuller” ABV. I could also see this safely converting into a warm, winter recipe with ginger.