Thursday 20 December 2007


Good news from Poland: Grodziskie might be making a comeback. The last brewery producing it closed in the mid-1990's. I've had a report that it's been purchased by a local businessman who intends resuming production. The original yeast strain - preserved by the last head brewer - is available for use.

A little background
Grodziskie was the only truly ingidenous Polish beer style to survive in the second half of the 20th century. It was a top-fermented, smoked wheat beer. It was the last survivor of a style called Grätzer (derived from Grätz, the German name for Grodzisk) and was once popular across northern Germany.

This is the earliest mention I've found of the style:
"Pohlnische Biere. Pohlen liebet besonders die weißen Biere, die es auch
verschieden, und sehr vortrefflich, hat; z. E. das Gräzer und Lobsenzer,
vornehmlich aber das Waretsker Bier, welches leztere, wenn es alt geworden, an
Klarheit und Farbe dem Weine gleichet.""Polish beers. Poland especially likes
white beers, of which it has several excellent ones, for example Gräzer and
Lobsenzer, but mostly Waretsker Beer, of which the latter, when aged, resembles
wine in colour and clarity
.""Oeconomischen Encyclopädie“ of 1773

Grodziskie (or Grätzer as it was called in German) seems to have been quite common pre WW 1, as the name crops up quite a bit. I recently found this:

"Nach den vorliegenden Angaben sind beim Verkauf in Fässern von den
Brauereien abgesetzt worden: gewöhnliche obergärige Biere bis zu 12 M., bessere
Sorten in der Regel zu 12 - 18 M. (Grätzer Bier 12 M.), untergärige Schankbiere
zu 14-18 M., Lagerbier meist 17-25 M. für 1 hl
Zeitschrift für das gesammte Brauwesen 1894, p.31

It’s talking about the wholesale price of draught beer in the Brausteuergebiet (all of German territory at the time, except Bavaria, Baden, Württemburg, Alsace Lorraine and Luxemburg):

  • ordinary top-fermening beer up to 12 M. per hl
  • better types of top-fermenting beer 12-18 M. per hl (Grätzer Bier 12 M.)
  • bottom-fermenting Schankbier (I guess 10° Plato or less) 14-18 M. per hl
  • Lagerbier mostly 17-25 M.
What’s interesting is:

  • Grätzer is the only specific style named;
  • even the weakest bottom-fermenting beer is the same price as the best top-fermenting beer.
I think it’s safe to assume that at this time Grätzer was pretty well-known.

In 1894 the district Posen (now the Polish Poznañ) had 158 breweries of which 101 were top-fermenting, producing between them 177,038 hl in the brewing year 1892/93. The 57 bottom-fermenting breweries produced much more - 307,800 hl. Which made the proportions 37% top-fermenting, 63% bottom-fermenting. The only region producing a higher percentage of top-fermenting beer was the Kingdom of Saxony at 41%. (Over the whole Brausteuergebiet the percentage of top-fermenting beer was 23%.) (Source: Zeitschrift für das gesammte Brauwesen 1894, p.23)

In "Ksiêga Piw i Browarow Polskich" ("Book of Polish Beer and Breweries"), Tadeusz Kaczmarek, 1994 dedicates pages 266 to 274 to Grodziskie. Here’s a summary of the most interesting bits.
  • It’s thought that it was first brewed sometime in the 14th century.
  • It was related to German Weissbier, but had its own specific taste from the use of smoked wheat malt.
  • It was brewed using an infusion mash.
  • It was bottle-conditioned.
In the 1990’s 3 variations were produced:
  • Grodziskie 7.7° Plato, 2.5% ABV
  • Grodzisz 12° Plato, 3.5% ABV
  • Bernadyñskie 14° Plato, 3-5% ABV


Anonymous said...


Do you have any info on a possible grist bill for any of this? This sounds very intriguing.

Ron Pattinson said...

I found a homebrew recipe on a Polish beer forum:

2 kg Weyermann smoked malt
2 kg wheat malt
0.8 kg sugar
50 g Lublin hops

It's to make 22 litres of 14 Plato wort (1056 OG).

I'm pretty sure the original Grodziskie used smoked wheat malt.

Anonymous said...

That recipe sounds fun. I like a wheat beer from time to time. I bet I could smoke the wheat myself. Weyermann is usually beechwood smoke. Do you think the Grodziskie wheat used beechwood smoke? And for yeast, would you think a good German wheat strain or something more neutral?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ron! Yeah, it makes sense that it was smoked wheat malt, from reading your blog.

Ron Pattinson said...

Brendan, I've no idea what the wood used for the smoking was. But beechwood sounds a reasonable bet.

As for yeast, it seems it used a strain with specific qualities. I was sent this link:

It lists articles about the type of yeast used. I could'n't actually get to the text of the articles, but maybe I was doing something wrong.

A german wheat yeast would be wrong, I'm sure. The recipe syas German ale yeast.

I've just found another recipe, this time for the 8 Plato version:

1 kg Weyermann pale wheat malt
1.5 kg Wyermann smoked malt
50 g Lublin hops
Safbrew S-33 yeast or Wyeast 1007 German Ale

It doesn't give the quantity brewed, but I guess whatever will give you a beer of 8 Plato (1032 OG)

I found the recipe here:

Unfortunately, it's in Polish.

Boak said...

Randy Mosher, in "Radical Brewing" includes a historic recipe for this one (from 1884). He suggest just smoked malted wheat and toasted smoked malted wheat for the original recipe, although he also provides a "cheaters version" which looks like the ones here.

I think I'd probably be upsetting allsorts of copyright laws if I put the exact recipe here, but it's allegedly what he presented to Michael Jackson, who had tasted some of the real stuff before it went out of production.

Moser also gives lots of advice on what woods give what sort of flavour. He says beech would be "dry, woody and neutral" and recommends oak-smoking for his recipe. Oh, and definitely ale yeast.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking to smoke my wheat malt with white oak. The hopps would be german or should I use polish hops? I don't think the bitterness should be really high - 15-20 IBU, but have lots of hop flavor and aroma.

Making a 1041 OG using German Ale yeast at 58F or so..

Anonymous said...

The original beer used 100% smoked-while-malted wheat. That means the smoke from the kiln used to dry the wheat was let into the malting chamber, it wasn't just smoked to add flavor after it was already dried. The wood originally used was oak, from what I've been able to read.

Ron Pattinson said...

Anonymous, that's how I would have expected smoked malt to be produced, by using wood as fuel during the kilning stage and allowing the smoke to pass over the malt.

Anonymous said...

Just recently Weyermann started to sell their oak-smoked-while-kilned pale wheat malt. Perfectly same as original malt used in Grodzisk brewery.

The yeast is already preserved and available.

The hop variety originally used was Lomik. While the growing at Nowy Tomysl area has been stopped lately, this hop is still growing in Lublin area, along with Lubelski which was also used in Grodzisk brewery to some extent.

Everything is ready.