Historical Beer Piwo Grodziskie

27. Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie

Overall Impression:
A low-gravity, highly-carbonated, light-bodied ale combining an oak-smoked flavor with a clean hop bitterness. Highly sessionable.

Aroma:
Low to moderate oak wood smoke is the most prominent aroma component, but can be subtle and hard to detect. A low spicy, herbal, or floral hop aroma is typically present, and should be lower than or equal to the smoke in intensity. Hints of grainy wheat are also detected in the best examples. The aroma is otherwise clean, although light pome fruit esters (especially ripe red apple or pear) are welcome. No acidity. Slight water-derived sulfury notes may be present.

Appearance:
Pale yellow to medium gold in color with excellent clarity. A tall, billowy, white, tightly-knit head with excellent retention is distinctive. Murkiness is a fault.

Flavor:
Moderately-low to medium oak smoke flavor up front which carries into the finish; the smoke can be stronger in flavor than in aroma. The smoke character is gentle, should not be acrid, and can lend an impression of sweetness. A moderate to strong bitterness is readily evident which lingers through the finish. The overall balance is toward bitterness. Low but perceptible spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor. Low grainy wheat character in the background. Light pome fruit esters (red apple or pear) may be present. Dry, crisp finish. No sourness.

Mouthfeel:
Light in body, with a crisp and dry finish. Carbonation is quite high and can add a slight carbonic bite or prickly sensation. No noticeable alcohol warmth.

Comments:
Pronounced in English as “pivo grow-JEES-kee-uh” (meaning: Grodzisk beer). Known as Grätzer (pronounced “GRATE-sir”) in German-speaking countries, and in some beer literature. Traditionally made using a multi-step mash, a long boil (~2 hours), and multiple strains of ale yeast. The beer is never filtered but Isinglass is used to clarify before bottle conditioning. Traditionally served in tall conical glassware to accommodate the vigorous foam stand.

History: Developed as a unique style centuries ago in the Polish city of Grodzisk (known as Grätz when ruled by Prussia and Germany). Its fame and popularity rapidly extended to other parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. Regular commercial production declined after WWII and ceased altogether in the early-mid 1990s. This style description describes the traditional version during its period of greatest popularity.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Grain bill usually consists entirely of oak-smoked wheat malt. Oak-smoked wheat malt has a different (and less intense) smoke character than German beechwood-smoked barley malt; it has a drier, crisper, leaner quality – a bacon/ham smoke flavor is inappropriate. Saazer-type hops (Polish, Czech or German), moderate hardness sulfate water, and a relatively clean and attenuative continental ale yeast fermented at moderate ale temperatures are traditional. German hefeweizen yeast or other strains with a phenol or strong ester character are inappropriate.

Style Comparison:
Similar in strength to a Berliner Weisse, but never sour. Has a smoked character but less intense than in a Rauchbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.028 – 1.032
IBUs: 20 – 35
FG: 1.006 – 1.012
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 2.5 – 3.3%