Two Polish Beers Walk Into A Bar ...
Not that we have many Polish people to offend, anyway. Apparently, there isn't enough demand to import Zywiec or Okocimskie beers into the state. But I got the chance to try a couple of Polish beers when a friend brought some back from a trip to Chicago, where a higher concentration of Polish-Americans make it worthwhile for two of Poland's biggest brewers to offer their products.
Having never heard anything about Polish beer tradition, I figured that Zywiec Original Beer and Piwo Okocimskie O.K. would both be competent if not especially interesting Euro-lagers along the lines of Heineken or Stella Artois. I was half-right: Both of them were surprisingly rich and well-balanced beers, and easily distinguishable from each other as well as from cheaper mass-produced lagers.
Zywiec Original poured slightly darker than the average American or Euro macro-brew and tasted much richer. It had a slight bready and corny sweetness to it but a decent hop bite at the finish, managing to be both rich and crisp. It somehow reminded me of what Budweiser might brew if the company had an ounce of pride in its product. The company also makes a much stronger (9.5 percent ABV, compared to this lager's 5.6) porter, which I would love to try. Unfortunately, it's only available in eight states, and Texas isn't one of them.
They may not be enough to convince me to make a pilgrimage to Illinois, let alone Poland, to seek them out. But if your travels take you somewhere either is available, I'd recommend picking up a few.