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I have said it plenty of times on here as well as my various socials, I am an abysmal beer tourist. You see, I have this tendency to find a place that I like, that does the kind of beer I like, and I am then a happy camper and a loyal customer. Nearly two years ago I got my act together to visit a few local Charlottesville area breweries that I had heard glowing reviews of, including Selvedge Brewing in their old Woolen Mills location.
The driving force behind that first visit was that they had recently hired a new brewer, who had previously worked at Champion Brewing (remember them?) and was a fellow fan of central European lagers. Naturally then, Josh and I talked at length that visit about decoction mashing, extended lagering, and the joys of doing things the old school way. Oh, and the beer was good too. That first beer was their Oktoberfest style beer, Tracht, and it became a regular tipple that autumn, as did the first iteration of their Munich Dunkel, Tweed.
About a year ago, I think, Josh mentioned to me that Selvedge would be moving to the other side of Charlottesville, to a venue in Ivy, and that they would be shut over a chunk of the winter and early spring. When they opened the new spot a couple of months ago, I knew I would be getting over there on opening weekend, that had after all put an ordinary bitter on their new beer engine - yes you read that right, a central Virginia brewery with a functioning, and being used, beer engine!! Speaking of dispense methods, the majority of the taps are standard flow control faucets, while they also have a pair of Lukr taps.
Since they re-opened, Selvedge has become a regular haunt of mine, especially as Josh is now able to do decoction mashing on his central European lagers, the first being Loden, his recent Vienna Lager...
Just look at the glorious pint, topped with a veritable fountain of foam! Oh and willibechers are my favourite glass by a country mile. Not only did it 100% look the part of a classic 100% Vienna malt lager, it tasted on the money as well, redolent with toasted malt and a lovely spicy Saaz finish that made it simply moreish, and more and more and more. Simply put, it was delicious, and my go to pint for as long as it was available.
From time to time though I would change things up a little, with their Italian pilsner above, Poplin, or sometimes more of the dunkel, or maybe even the remnants of the ordinary bitter, Houndstooth, served through the Lukr tap - serving top fermented beers through a Lukr tap is becoming something of a thing in Central Virginia, with Decipher Brewing also pouring their 80/- through it now as well.
It was then, with no little excitement that last Friday came around. A few weeks back Josh did a double decoction with Moravian malt, chucked some Bohemian hops into the boil, and even got hands on the lauded H strain of yeast from Pilsner Urquell to make Coat Czech, his version of a 12° světlý ležák (pale lager to you). Josh was recently in Czechia, visiting many of the best pubs and breweries in both Prague and Plzeň - I may have given him several pointers - and this beer was the outcome of drinking in the home of great pale lagers.
Straight from the Lukr tap, in the hladinka style pour - while I have your attention, please, please, please can we stop bastardising the Czech language by asking for multiple hladinkas? Hladinka is singular, hladinky is plural for between 2 and 4, and if I remember my grammar correctly, more than 5 would be hladinek. Facts matter people.
Anyway, what a storming, storming 12° Coat Czech is. 4.8%, 40 IBUs, this is the most on the money Czech style pale lager I have had since getting back from my last trip to Prague. All of that Saaziness is there, lemongrass, a spiciness that initially had me thinking cinnamon, but also perhaps a kind of coriander thing, but maybe that is the lemoniness messing with my head. Oh and it's bitter, proper bitter, like proper beer should be, bracing without being overpowering, I could happily drink this beer all day, every day, and that would stand if I were in Czechia with all the options available there. Yes, it is that good.
I think I was on my third, and chatting to Josh at the bar, when I commented that it reminded me most of the gorgeous 12° at Únětický Pivovar, to which Josh responded with "that's because that was the inspiration". Inspired, for sure.
As long as it is on tap, I know exactly what I will be drinking for the next few weekends, and if it is still on tap when it is time to head for the annual holiday in Florida, then I might just load on crowlers too.


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