Friday, 15 March 2013

Grätzer guidelines update

Now there's a surprise. I hadn't bothered commenting to the Brewers' Association on their Grätzer* guidleines, for the simple reason I didn't expect them to pay me any attention. But someone did**.

And blow me if they didn't change them. Take a look and see what you think:
Grätzer (also Grodziskie) is a Polish-Germanic pre-Reinheitsgebot style of straw to golden colored ale. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. The distinctive character comes from 100% oak wood smoked wheat malt. The overall balance is a sessionably medium to medium-high assertively oak-smoky malt emphasized beer. Aroma is dominated by oak smoke notes. They have a medium low to medium perceived clean hop bitterness. European noble hop flavor notes are very low to low, and low ester may also be present. Body is low to medium low. A Kölsch-like ale fermentation and aging process lends a crisp overall flavor impression and low degree of ester fruitiness. Sourness, diacetyl, and sweet corn-like DMS (dimethylsulfide) should not be perceived. Historic versions were most often bottle conditioned to relatively high carbonation levels.

Original Gravity (ºPlato) 1.028-36 (7-9 ºPlato) ● Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato) 1.006-1.010 (1.5-2.5 ºPlato) ● Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.1-2.9% (2.6-3.6%) ● Bitterness (IBU) 15-25 ● Color SRM (EBC) 3-6 (6-12 EBC)"

Are they an improvement? Yes. A bit. It's nice that the classic 7.7º Plato version is now included. But unfortunately that's at the expense of the stronger versions brewed in the 1980's and 1990's. I don't seee why the strength range couldn't have been set to include both.

I'm pleased that it says 100% smoked wheat malt, though after all the discussion in the comments, I was starting to come around to the idea of  a percentage of barley malt being acceptable.

Some things are still just plain wrong. "A Kölsch-like ale fermentation and aging process", for example. I'm not even sure what the first half of that means, but Grätzer definitely wasn't lagered like Kölsch. And the classic version was a good bit hoppier than 15-25 IBU, more like 30-40 IBU. And I still don't get what "pre-Reinheitsgebot" means in this context. As Grodzisk/Gratz was only briefly submitted to it, the Reinheitsgebot is pretty irrelevant.

Overall, a slight improvement, but there's still some way to go. At least the Jopen version I was involved with is now just about to style. I can sleep easily.

* I'm using the word Grätzer for reasons of simplicity. It could just as well have been Grodziskie.
** Zafra Whitcomb


Unknown said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Ron. I am sure they wouldn't have made the change based on my comments alone, and they must have a had some conflicting ones to hold on to some of the things they *didn't* change.

Rob Sterowski said...

Kölsch-like, I am sure, is in there because it’s top-fermenting, so a German Ale! Like Kölsch! Just shows how their insistence on calling everything Ale imprisons their thinking.

Gary Gillman said...

Good to see you've had some influence on them Ron.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I wasn't the one who got in touch with them. I can't claim credit for influencing them.

Gary Gillman said...

Ah I just assumed your writings (not just this year but numerous earlier postings on Gratzer) had some influence in this change, indirectly in other words. I'd like to think so anyway.


Jonathan said...

Yay, Thank you using your blog as a bully pulpit and also as a roundtable for discussing this style. I have learned almost everything useful about Gratzer from either reading your blog or reading comments and links on them.

We are about to start piloting this style and we plan to go in a number of directions. We wil brew a batch with Bamberger smoked wheat and we will brew a batch with locally grown smoked malt and locally grown raw wheat.

I also have some willow bark and we will give it a try, but I don't know what the FDA may say so, it may not make it to the packaged beer.

My Wife's maiden name is Grodsky and she loves wheat beers, so I have to make it.


Jonathan Reeves
Head Brewer
Port City Brewing

PS Wil you be at CBC in DC? If so, I would love to meet you,

Ron Pattinson said...

Johnathan, glad to have been of help.

No, I won't be at the CBC. I was in the US just a few weeks back, in Boston.

I probably will be in DC sometime in the future as I know lots of people there.