Once upon a time, in the great kingdom of… ah shut up! 4 Polish beers (Zywiec, Tyskie, Warka and Lezajsk)


When I sat down to write my review of these 4 Polish beers, I started by looking up their history and background. Turns out my first two, Lezajsk and Warka, were both at one point in time, exclusive brewers to royalties. Then, I looked up reviews from other beer blogs and to no surprise, their score wasn’t so high. Nowadays, legacies and historical references are so irrelevant when speaking about beer.

I wish somebody somewhere in the marketing department of every great old beer brewer got the memo so that they stop sitting comfortably on an irrelevant legacy that no one cares about anymore. Instead, I wish they started taking their marketing bull by the horns and 2012anize themselves. Prince who? King who? Maybe in Poland this is common knowledge, or to most Jeopardy contestants, but let’s face it, kings and queens from 4-5 centuries ago shouldn’t be considered brand ambassadors anymore. So much has changed in the brewing world and so much needs to be redefined that if marketers fall asleep at the wheel, they just might find their brands outdated.

 

Lezajsk

This is one of those beers with a legacy built on the fact that in 1525, the brewery of Lezajsk (the town) was granted exclusive brewer to Polish King Sigismund. Thing is, I didn’t think this beer was anything special and neither did most reviewers out there. In fact, it holds one of the lowest scores I have yet to see.

It pours a darker yellow with some red hues and bubbles race to the top but gives no pay-off as far as head or lacing goes; so sad.

The smell was the first sign of disappointment; Adjuncts, wet goods (as in flood victim), and little hops.

Tasting it was the final blow. Lezajsk tastes like dish water and I’m not trying to be funny or provocative, it has a nasty flavor that keeps cutting through the little bits of grain, corn and other adjuncts it’s made of. You get a little hop as you drink the last few sips and that’s it. It wasn’t very good and that’s probably because I looked for a decent beer from a Europe brewer. This beer wasn’t it.

Price: $1.95 (500ml). That is super cheap!

Beer type: Pale lager

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.6%

Brewery: Zakłady Piwowarskie w Leżajsku S.A.

Country / Region: Poland

——

Warka

Here’s another one with a legacy, in 1478, it claims to have been the exclusive brewer to the court of the Wazovian Prince. It was promising at pouring time but soon disappointed me, as well. A darker shade of liquid gold filled my glass as great bubbles made their way to the top, but I like head. Good head, and there wasn’t any of that.

The smell was that of corn, sweet malts, yeast and a little boozy. I expected a richer aroma.

Warka gives a good amount of caramel malts and adjuncts like rice or corn. The mouth feel is dry and smooth and there’s a good alcohol kick near the end. Small amounts of hops are present throughout. Overall, it’s a good beer with a moderate 7% alcohol content that doesn’t steal the show.

Price: $2.45 (500ml). Also cheap!

Beer type: Marzen

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.6%

Brewery: Browary Warka S.A.

Country / Region: Poland

—–

Zywiec

This beer has no legacy dating back to the 14 or 15 hundreds but soon after WWII it became the proud holder of Lezajsk and Warka, both legacy braggers. Today, Heineken owns them. Go figure.

Zywiec pours a clear gold with good dense head. It leaves no lacing but looks good. The smell is somewhat skunky, a word I don’t like to use because if it’s skunked then it’s a bad beer not necessarily a bad product. But it’s not the skunkyness of a sknunked beer. It just has a not so good smell reminding me of a Heineken but with a little more hop.

The taste is way better than its sister brands (Lezajsk and Warka). It tastes like malts, grain, corn, with a touch of honey. Not so much hops. The feel is medium and the carbonation keeps giving until the end which was a plus.

It’s my second favorite out of the four.

Price: $2.45 (500ml). That is cheap!

Beer type: Pale lager

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.6%

Brewery: Zywiec Brewey (Heineken)

Country / Region: Poland

—–

Tyskie

Along with Zywiec, this beer redeems Polish beers yet suffers an inferiority complex. Like many other labels in Poland, its white label defines it. Decorated with a red crown, the brewery has successfully associated itself to a royalty by commemorating King Sobjeski, born the same year, 1629. What do you know, guerilla marketing at its finest. It’s a good thing its taste was better than its competition, I mean, imagine tying yourself to a false legacy only to taste worst than the others… that would be pathetic.

Tyskie pours a clear yellow with nice thick white persistent head. The aroma of sweetness, like figs or dates, is present along with decent hops. Not much is going on, but a pleasurable smell typical of a lager.

The taste is where I thought this beer stood out a little more. It has a substantial amount of sweetness from adjuncts but also a good hop and yeast kick. It’s a little more in line with what I expected from a European beer. It didn’t leave me wanting more, didn’t leaving saying “never again”. The carbonation and mouth feel was nice; a little watery, much refreshing and well balanced. Redeemed.

Price: $2.45 (500ml). That is cheap!

Beer type: Pale lager

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.6%

Brewery: Tyskie Brewery (SABMiller)

Country / Region: Poland

 

When all is said and done, I look back at my notes and remember where, when and why I wrote what I wrote, but none of the four beers I reviewed stood out. Not one of them made me grab my laptop and write about them, and that’s too bad. Maybe I expected more from these beers being imported but then again, I should have known this given their average price of $2.45 for 500ml bottles, these had to be run of the mill Polish beers –the Budweiser and Millers of Poland.

Still, I would have liked for one of them (or at the very least, one aspect of them) to stand out. For example, the Tyskie is the only one that gave off some sort of fruit presence in its aroma yet even then, not enough for me to be wowed. All of these beers seem to hold a “safe” position in a mass market segment that demands a nice cold beer to party with and drink at festivals.

It would be probably super easy for a micro-brewery to knock them off their legacy pedestals. I’ll have to travel to Poland one day to find out.

I wish a Polish beer would have blown my socks off.

Cheers!

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