Poland. Not a country as strongly associated with the brewing of beer as Germany, Belgium or the UK, although you know there must be Polish-brewed beer, right? And if there is, wouldn’t there be some Polish beer styles? I freely admit that I wasn’t aware of any until a short while ago when I started seeing the name ‘Grodziskie’ here and there on beer-related websites and in forums. After a little bit of research I realised there’s something really quite interesting here – a unique beer style that is undergoing a small but noticeable renaissance.
Disclaimer: I’ve had to use a lot of Polish documents and .pl websites in researching this piece. Google translate/Chrome will only get you so far, so apologies in advance for any inaccuracies or missing information.
Piwo Grodziskie has three things in common with the Czech beer Budweiser Budvar. Firstly they’re both named after a town – Grodzisk Wielkopolski and České Budějovice respectively. Secondly, both towns were, at one time or another, occupied by Germany and given German names (Grodzisk/Grätz and Budějovice/Budweis), which leads to the third commonality – both beers have also been known by two names (one native and one German): Grodziskie/Grätzer and Budějovický Budvar/Budweiser Budvar. The similarities, however, end there. Apart from anything else, Grodziskie is a style and Budvar a brand.
Grodziskie/Grätzer is a top-fermented, low alcohol, wheat-based, pale-coloured, hoppy, slightly tart, smoked beer, and when I say wheat-based I mean there’s no barley in it. Seriously. No barley.
Grodzisk Wielkopolski has a history of brewing going back at least 700 years, and as with so many other brewing centres around the world it’s largely because the water there is very good for making beer. In 1601 a statute formalising a brewers guild was enacted and by the late 1700s there were 53 breweries operating in the town.
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