Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oshkosh Beer Sampler 035: Piwo Grodziskie, a/k/a Grätzer Ale

A slanted and endless survey of what’s pouring in Oshkosh, tallied one beer at a time.

What: Piwo Grodziskie, also known as Grätzer Ale. Brewed at Schlossbrauerei Au, Bavaria.

Where: On the retail beer shelf at Gardina’s where a half-liter bottle is going for $6.99

Why: Well, if your geek is rare styles of beer that originated in the Middle Ages, this is a no brainer. Let’s start with some background: A classic Grodziskie beer is a pale, fairly-hoppy, low-alcohol ale made using oak-smoked wheat malt. It’s a style that originated in the 1400s in the town of Grodzisk Wielkopolski in western Poland. By the 1800s, Polish Grodziskie was being exported to Germany where it was adopted by German brewers and renamed Grätzer. Grodziskie remained extant, if not exceptionally popular, throughout much of the 20th century. The last Polish brewery making Grodziskie closed in 1993.

So how does this one measure up to all of that? Overall, I’d say fairly well. The aroma is fruity and lightly smokey; almost like an apple or pear pie with a little burn on the crust. The smoked character of the wheat malt leads the flavor, but on balance it’s fairly restrained. The beer is very light (4% ABV) and easy drinking. It finishes with a slight, acidic tang that made me want to immediately guzzle more. The only thing lacking is the bitterness. This a style of beer that was known to be fairly bitter and that’s missing here. On the whole, though, it’s an interesting beer and one well worth trying; especially if you’re into lost styles of European ale.

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