January. Traditionally the month that Lagerboy avoids more than any other. Beer gardens are damp and slick with rain, the Scottish days end gloomily, just after lunchtime – and the Bermuda shorts stay resolutely in their protective shrink-wrap until the months have less than five letters. Not exactly a time for lager. But, over recent years Lagerboy has found it much harder to hibernate, with mild mugginess creeping into his authentic German-style cellaring cave, forcing his hand. Weak from lack of golden sustenance, that hand shakily reaches out, and finds…OTTO?
‘Craft Brewed Czech Pilsner’ it says, above a label that resembles a hipster simpering into a mirror. Lagerboy tuts, and shakes his head – every Czech beer is crafted, surely? [in this case, at the Žatec Brewery – which Lagerboy has sampled before]. Otto is the brainchild of Flat Cap Beers, a Cornish gypsy producer founded by Andy Orr and Ken Robertson. A sort of Mikkeller-on-sea. Their other offering, TED, is a British style Pale Ale – a beer type which has too many syllables to interest Lagerboy, clearly. The branding certainly stands out, you would really notice OTTO and TED on the shelf, like charity posters for Movember and prostate cancer.
OTTO looks the part in the glass, too – brilliantly golden and with a tight, puffy head. Rising carbonation streams upwards, untroubled. Clean, soft, grassy on the nose, slightly musty in that sometimes-Czech way. Tastewise, it starts well, with some lightly toasted cereal malt and dry hay. Although it fades somewhat into that slightly metallic place some conti-lagers go to, it’s not too bad – it shares that softness Žatec has (unsurprisingly), and although it could be crisper, that trade-off is, on balance, just about worth it.