Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Grätzer comes alive
It's another one of my projects. In fact the day I'm going to write about sort of included two of my projects, but more of that later. Let's take it one project at a time. The Grätzer project is what I'd started on. It's a collaboration between Michel Ordeman (of Jopen), Alice van der Kuijl, Sebastian Sauer, Evan Rail and me. We've brewed up (the brewers at Jopen have to be completely accurate) brewed up not just a Grätzer but also a Grodziskie. I know, same thing, different language. But we have made a disticntion between the two.
This is starting to get like a memory test. Do you remember me posting about Grätzer containing white willow bark? It sounded too good an idea to pass up. We were already wondering whether we should call the beer Grätzer or Grodziskie. The solution was simple: brew one with willow bark and the other without. Then we get to see what effect the willow bark has, and we can have both a Grätzer and a Grodziskie.
I'm going to go out on a limb here. I think they're the most authentic Grätzer/Grodziskie to have beeb brewed commercially since the brewery in Grodzisk closed in 1993. Why? Because we managed to put together all the key elements of the beer. The recipe is pretty simple. 100% smoked wheat malt and 100% Lublin hops. Now here's the really important bit: fermented with the real Grodzisk yeast strain.
When the brewery in Grodzisk closed in 1993, the head brewer was farsighted enough to send a sample of the yeast to a lab in Poland to be preserved. Somehow, Pivovarský Dům in Prague (a brewing institute as well as a brewpub) got hold of the yeast, too. They have samples of all sorts of yeast, so it isn't that odd. Evan Rail arranged for them to culture up enough to brew several batches and drove from Prague to Haarlem with 3 kegs of yeast in the boot of his car.
The beers have been brewed to the classic 8º Plato strength, with a good dose of hops to balance out the smoke. I can't wait to try them. I'm still kicking myself for never tracking Grodziskie down in the early 1990's when it was still being brewed in Groszisk. This should make up for that terrible ommission.
Exciting, isn't it? The beers were brewed the first weekend in October. Being low gravity, they'll be ready pretty soon. Just another couple of weeks. It'll be a very special day when I take my first sips. Knowing me, gulps more like. I'll be sure to let you know they taste.
That other project? While we were at the Jopenkerk for the brewing, we tried some Porters brewed from historic types of brown malt. I've been working with Ben Heaven for a while on the3 malts. I say working with, but really he does all the work. Kilning the malt (using straw as a fuel sounds pretty scary) and brewing beer with it. I just cheer from the sidelines. He seems to have cracked making diastatic straw-kilned brown malt. Do you know what that means? For the first time in a couple of hundred years it's possible to brew an 18th-century London Porter. What could be more thrilling than that?