What is it with these Poles? Too many jokes at their expense, maybe? They’ve made a perfectly suitable little pale lager and what do they call it? O.K. Beer. Come on, show a little pride. This beer brewed by the Okocim brewery, which is presumably where they got the uninspired name, is better than just okay.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I think Polish beer, I’m thinking cabbage water. There aren’t many, or often even any, Eastern European brews available. Most every beer drinking country will proudly offer several famous beers that are easily found. It’s worrying when a place like Poland exports almost nothing. They drink copious amounts of the stuff, you’d think they’d be able to make a decent swill. Well, they do. They just don’t go out of their way to share it with the rest of the world. You’ll have to search for this beer in specialty shops and the rare Polish restaurant.
If you happen to discover some, you could do worse. A lot worse. This O.K. Beer has quite a bit going for it, actually. It pours a nice honey color but, despite tons of carbonation, there’s just a small, quick head. The strong, earthy aroma is the first thing that grabs the attention. It smells like a farmer’s field and everything you might find in it. Even a little skunk despite being in a proper brown bottle, but especially grass and corn and squash -- all after a heavy rain maybe, leaving a little moldy mustiness about.
The taste doesn’t quite match the heavy aroma, which is probably just as well. It isn’t devoid of flavor, but it is lighter tasting than the smell will lead you to believe. It’s not as hoppy as a more typical European lager, but it packs more than the usual American variety, for those looking for a compromise. A dollop of malt adds just a little sweetness. A mingling of citrus, apple and, strangely, some tin or iron, lingers just before the swallow. Then it gives a nice bite at the end with a good bitter aftertaste.
The main problem with this beer is its availability. It’s hard to make this anything other than an event beer, because you’re probably just not likely to find it on a regular basis. It’s a refreshing beer that is easy to pound. At 5.6% alcohol it also packs a surprising wallop. If you find yourself wanting to just sit around and get hammered, this will do the job pleasantly enough. It would also be fine washing down sausages, and since you’re likely to find this stuff only at Polish restaurants and butchers, that will often be its role.
Maybe O.K. Beer just needs a bit of a marketing push. A name change wouldn’t hurt. It’s not a fabulous beer that you’ll gush about to all your friends. But, it’s better than average. It’s a good ’friends’ beer, really. It will get you drunk in a hurry without all the heaviness. The taste isn’t anything especially noteworthy, but it won’t put you off either. So, if you happen to have the opportunity, grab some of these and a few mates, and have a laugh, do a little polka. O.K. is just fine for that.