Just when I think I'm getting better with my beer knowledge, I run across something I hadn't really paid much attention to. This was the case when Evan Rail sent me a link to an article he wrote for the Prague Daily Monitor about Czech speciál beer. Here's a teaser:
Contrary to how things often look in Prague, Czech beer culture is clearly thriving, a font of fantastic regional brewers, brewpubs and beer styles. Among the biggest surprises for me was the quality and variety of speciál, the Czech Republic’s version of strong beer.
Although speciál is just a single term, it actually signifies a vast category that includes a variety of golden, half-dark and dark beers of various strengths. According to Czech regulations, anything brewed with a percentage of initial sugar greater than 13 — denoted 13° — is considered a speciál. (There is a separate legal category, porter, for dark speciál of at least 18°, of which there is just one in regular production: Pernštejn’s Pardubický Porter, a sticky, coffee-like, 19° brew with 8% alcohol.)
Be sure to read the article and prepare to learn.