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Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Short Review of Beer: Jelen

Hello, dear readers! How has your weekend been?

Today, I reached a milestone. For the first time in my life, I had Serbian beer!

My camera flash kind of obscures the label, but it says "Jelen Beer, original recipe". The Jaegermeister deer has nothing on the Jelen buck

After my husband brought home some fried chicken, I decided that I should pair with it one of my Serbian beers that I bought at the Euro mart. After a friend surprised me a few weeks ago with some home brewed beer that a friend of his made and some Benedictine beers from the home monastery in Nursia, Italy, it was high time to make room in the fridge because it's getting pretty crowded in there. I picked the first beer I saw, which happened to be Jelen.

Jelen beer was a staple of my childhood. I remembered seeing it served at parties and festivals while I was growing up in the Chicago area, with its large Serbian community to serve as the market. Its name means "deer" in Serbian, and its label features a howling buck. Jelen an old, well established beer brand, going back to 1756 when it began being brewed at the Apatinska Pivara (Apatin Brewery), which is located in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. The brewery is named after the town it was built in, Apatin.

As my husband arranged the fried chicken on plates for us to eat, I took a sip of Jelen and was literally almost blown away by the taste of it. IT WAS SO GOOD!!! It went down smoothly and had a very pleasant malty taste with a bit of body to it. I couldn't tell what kind of beer it was, however, because it wasn't listed on the label. My husband guessed it to be a lager (and he was right), and he too found it pleasing to the taste. No wonder this beer was such a big hit at parties! It's really quite tasty. The ingredients were pretty simple too, listing out "water, barley malt, maize grits, hops". While the alcohol content is pretty low (only around 5%), its taste makes one want to drink more of it so do be cautious of that. I can, and have, seen people get pretty wasted on this stuff.

A better look at what's inside the bottle. Its piss-yellow look betrays the true flavor. Pic found here

Sure enough, fried chicken and Jelen go well together, but don't make the mistake of eating a banana for dessert and drinking beer at the same time because that combo was gross. This is a meat beer, so pair Jelen with any meat dish you have.

I can definitively say, this beer is a keeper. Even though the brewery is owned by Coors (a particularly revolting brand of American domestic beer), the fact that its original recipe hasn't been tampered with is a huge relief. I must say, so far I've been pretty pleased with the quality of European beers (Slavic beers, in particular), and I will definitely buy more Jelen the next time I go to the Euro mart. Do try it if you can, but because this is a beer specific to Serbia, it may be difficult to find in your local liquor or grocery store. It's more likely to be available in ethnic delis, depending on which Slavic population is the most prominent in your community, if at all.

For more information on Jelen, check out the brand's Serbian language website here and English-language Wikipedia site here.

As always, please drink responsibly

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