New Slovenian beers that challenge a mind set!   


There are regions of Europe whose reputations have been established over the centuries by the quality of the raw materials they produce.  Moravia for the quality of its malting barley for example,  and Bohemia for its  hops.

When you come across something which challenges the established norm this can make for exciting drinking, and Slovenia is a case in point.

As part of the former  Yugoslavia  Slovenia has long been associated with the quality of its  hops also,  so hop accented lagers in the Czech style should be the order of the day...or so you might think ?  A tasting of the recently imported Lasko beers from Slovenia enticingly put paid to this theory, adding a new twist on established logic.

Lasko Brewery was founded in 1825 and having gone through many highs and lows during its  history has the distinction today of still being part  of an Independent group. This is no mean feat in itself in a part of Eastern Europe that has long been the stamping ground of many a large predatory brewer since the collapse of Communism in 1989. 

Charles Gardner of Lasko (UK) Ltd told me recently  " The quality of the beers impressed me, and up until now no one had imported them into the UK "  This could prove to be a shrewd move, but what struck me when sampling them was the unexpected break from conventional thinking, with the accent on hop subtlety rather than prominence.

Three beers are currently available  Lasko Zlatorog,  Lasko Club Export  and  Lasko Dark. 

The Lasko Zlatorog at 4.9% alc is considered to be the standard bearer within the range and has a light straw colour married to a fresh aroma with hints of lime and zesty fruit.  On the palate it is notably drier in style than expected with a firm palate and cleanly made.

The second is the Lasko Club Export which interestingly also weighs in at 4.9% alc, but is very different in style to the Zlatorog. The colour is of a deep gold and has a clean aroma with subtle pine hop complexity. The body is full in flavour and round, with a satisfying  ' yeastiness ' also present. The emphasis is on a maltier depth and body rather than light hoppiness of flavour which all combines in making this a flavoursome brew.  Closer to a well made ' Dortmunder Export' in style.

Thirdly is the Lasko Dark or Tmave on home soil at 5.9% alc. Here the beer has a deep ruby coloured hue with a touch of caramel malt notes on the aroma. Again in the house style you have a firm malt accented body combined with smoothness of flavour which is nicely structured. This is also a good example of not serving a dark lager at too low a temperature as on warming in the glass the flavours of caramel ( with hints of toffee) became more pronounced. This is a classically made example of an increasing popular style.

Of all the beer styles that have been maligned in recent years lager must be top. Under licence brewing, poor quality, and below cost retailing have done little to enhance it's image as a quality product. The premium sector is badly in need of breweries to show what lager is capable of at the higher level, and Lasko is ideally positioned to do this with the quality it has to offer. 

With my preconception on styles pleasantly altered on tasting, Lasko is set to make its mark  -  for all the right reasons!

For details of stockists contact:  sales@lasko-beer.co.uk



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