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I know it’s been awhile since I posted a new review, but life has a way of making things difficult.  On a positive note, I just got back from a trip to Texas where I was able to sample some of the regional beers I don’t get in NorCal.  There were two from Jester King that were especially interesting. Jester King’s a small brewery in Austin that actually won an important case against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that allowed them to actually label their beers correctly.  For example: they were able to label their pale ales as such rather than as “pale beer.”  Their next move looks like challenging the state law requiring the breweries to make all sales through a distributor.

The first I tried was the Black Metal Imperial Stout.  It poured an inky black with a thick brown head.  The smell was sweet, chocolatey, and boozy.  It tasted like earthy chocolate with some roasted coffee.  The mouthfeel was smooth and creamy.  Less boozy than expected.  I shared this with a couple of friends and the adventurous beer drinker enjoyed it while the beer newb was not impressed.

I’d drink it again if I had someone to share with.

Well, I just got back from five weeks in Romania where, in the name of research, I drank as many different beers as I could find.  Several times if needed.  I did not take extensive notes on the beers while I was there, so this will be more overview than detailed review.

Pale lagers seemed to be the popular choice with the low end options available in 2 liter bottles at the supermarket for about $2US.  There were several Romanian beers, but most bars also served Danish, Turkish, German, and Belgian varieties.  Nearly every beer I ordered was served in a 500ml bottle, which makes keeping track of how much one’s had to drink tricky if you’re used to counting drinks in 12 or 16oz increments.  Also challenging my buzz maintenance was the palinca.  It’s a homemade brandy usually made from pears or plums that the smaller establishment kept giving us.  (though I was told that they were only allowed to give us three each due to the high alcohol content)  I did find a couple of dark beers that I did some extensive sampling of…you know, for research.

Ursus Premium was basically the Budweiser of Romania.  Their slogan is even “The King of Beers in Romania.”  It might have slightly more flavor than a Bud, but it was a very uninteresting beer.

Ursus Black was a much more interesting beer.  It’s a Schwarzbier with a very dark pour and cream colored foam.  It tastes primarily of chocolate and malt and is not nearly as heavy as other beers this dark.  I’d definitely drink this again.

Redd’s was a fairly controversial beer among my traveling companions.  Some people loved it while others thought it tasted too “girly.”  I went out with three friends and we drank the restaurant out of it the first night we tried it.  It definitely has a sweet fruity taste and is almost more like a wine or hard cider than a beer.  Some of my friends referred to it as the “champagne beer” and it was indeed quite carbonated, but in a way that worked with the other flavors.  I was really disappointed that I couldn’t smuggle any of this back in my luggage.  If you want something sweet, fruity, and refreshing, this is for you.

Ciuc Premium is a Czech Pilsner brewed in Romania and was very easily forgettable.  I’m only reminded of the fact that I had one by the picture of me with it in my hand.  I actually switched to wine for the evening after the disappointing bottle of Ciuc.  Avoid this beer if you don’t like fizzy yellow water.

Silva Bruna was a little harder to come by than some of the other beers here, but I very much enjoyed it.  It’s similar to the Ursus Black, but nuttier and with a hint of molasses and caramel.  After I had the one pictured above, I couldn’t find it again.  I highly recommend it.

Romania seems to be behind the rest of Europe when it comes to beer.  I blame Communism.