I’ve certainly made my contribution to Ukraine’s increasing beer consumption.
And, when given a choice of domestic or imported beers, I always favor the Ukrainian brand. When in Kyiv, do as the Kyivans…
I see no point in buying the usually more expensive foreign-branded makes – even though franchises such as the Belgian Stella Artois and Czech beers such as Kozel and Staropromen are gaining favor with good quality at a decent price.
But does it matter which Ukrainian beer I drink? Would I be able to distinguish one from the other if I didn’t see the label? Don’t they all taste the same – cold and refreshing?
To answer these questions, my colleagues had me test five brands of Ukrainian beer: Rogan, Chernihivske, Obolon, Slavutych and Lvivske. Colleague Mark Rachkevych poured out five samples in small clear-plastic cups, each marked on the bottom with a number between 1 and 5. James Marson kept score.
I got Rogan right off the bat, because it’s a Kharkiv brew that I don’t drink often and never particularly liked for what strikes me as an acidic aftertaste.
Chernihivske and Obolon were also relatively easy picks because, shall we say, I’m very familiar with their taste.
Then I ran into trouble. I tasted the remaining two samples again and again, then cleaned my palate with water, then tried once more. But in the end, I mixed up Slavutych and Lvivske. Had I got them right, I would have been a Ukrainian beer connoisseur extraordinaire – with a flawless 100 percent score. Instead, I ended with 60 percent – barely a passing grade, that is, if “D” is a passing grade.
Truth be told, they were all light beers and there wasn’t a big difference in their tastes.
Of the five, I have to say that Chernihivske struck me as the cleanest and most appealing. So, bartender, please set me and my friends up with Chernihivske.
But if you don’t have that, most any other Ukrainian beer (except Rogan) will do as long as it’s served cold. I need more practice!
Kyiv Post Chief editor Brian Bonner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org