Beer Stories: Bohemian Brewery introduces Viennese in cans
by Rebecca Edwards
Beer festival season is almost upon us, and Bohemian Brewery is ready to win another slew of medals this year. For years Bohemian Brewery has been tantalizing our taste buds and helping us mere mortals realize Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted quip: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” with their unique -and always smooth — brews.
Bohemian is probably most well known for their cans. In addition to the Czech Pilsner, you will now be able to find their famed (and my favorite!) Viennese Lager in cans at your local grocery store. As one of the first craft brewers to use cans instead of bottles, they’ve taken a fair amount of heat for the strangely controversial choice. Until recently, cans were cost-prohibitive — especially for a small brewery setting out to gain their foothold in the craft beer marketplace. But Bohemian was not deterred. They forged ahead like pioneers and passionately defend their right to can.
“I was stoked that they had a can line here,” brewer Bobby Jackson shared. “Three years ago, it was pretty isolated. I remember trying to get questions answered about cans in brew school, but there were no real answers. Craft brew wasn’t really being put into cans.”
Extolling the virtues of can vs. bottle, Jackson continued, “You get 100% UV blockage, it chills faster, cans are allowed more places than bottles. The green revolution is also fueling the move to cans, which is nice in a place like Salt Lake City, which has a large outdoor community.”
And what about that old argument that cans make beer taste like metal? Jackson points out that they do recommend using a glass. “I think that if people are tasting metal it’s from their mouth touching metal — if you pour the beer into a glass you don’t taste anything. Our cans are lined so that the liquid never actually touches the metal.”
The most recent, handcrafted release by Bohemian is the 1842 Pilsner, which is only available at the brewery — a cozy escape that made me feel like I was in a European ski chalet. What makes the 1842 special is the handcrafted floor malt and triple decocting process, which requires patience, time and intense attention to detail. The process was developed originally as a way to help maintain consistency in a time when even basics like a thermometer were not available to help brewers produce reliable quality.
“This is the second time we’ve done this beer,” Jackson explained. “It’s done with a handcrafted floor malt from Weyermann. All the malting is done by hand and turned on the floor; it’s the way it was done hundreds of years ago, which is kind of experiencing a comeback. Other places are starting to return to the roots of crafting beer. The recipe is based on Josef Groll — his original recipe for Pilsner Urquell, which was originally brewed in 1842. It’s a much drier beer than our original pilsner; dry-hopped completely with Saaz hops. There’s a light malt complexity, nice hop notes on the nose with spicy aromas. This beer is lighter in color and a pretty good example of an original German pilsner.”
Their first attempt at the 1842 yielded a gold medal just weeks after its release — and there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again in upcoming festivals. Jackson , who’s been at Bohemian nearly three years, likes the chance to mix it up. “We didn’t do anything but the four (Czech Pilsner, Cherny Bock, Bavarian Weiss and Viennese Lager) for the longest time, but now that we’re getting settled in we’ve started to do more stuff. We had a black wheat for the holidays and a rye beer will be out for springtime…that will be interesting.”
Whether it’s crafting beer old-world style or doing their part to save the environment by using easily-recyclable aluminum, Bohemian Brewery is a leader in the craft beer revolution, and Salt Lake City is extremely lucky that Bohemian calls Utah home.
Bohemain Viennese is now offered in cans at local super markets such as Harmon’s and Smith’s, but it runs about fifty cents cheaper per can if purchased at Bohemian located at 94 East 7200 South.