The Grodz Must Be Crazy (Polish Grodziskie)

Where to begin. I could start with talking about Rauchbier, or maybe with the fact that a lot of beer was probably smokey back in the day as their kilning process wasn’t like it is today, or the fact that I have smoked my own grains in the past, then gracefully slide into why I’m bringing up this smoke shit in the first place.

Instead I’ll just get to it. The beer is called Grodziskie (sometimes Grätzer, Grodzisz). It’s Polish. It’s a historical style. It’s typically made from oak-smoked wheat malt. It can have two yeast strains (depending on the time in history), but a single ale yeast can work. It can be kinda bitter. It can have multi-mash steps. It can have a higher than expected hoppiness due to the high alkalinity as well as the ratio of sulfate ions to chloride ions.

Let’s. Get. Weird.

But the origin of how this was made back in ye olde times gets even weirder with willow bark and straws in bung holes, which I would be all over if I had access to such things. Seemingly the focus on this nowadays is the smokiness more than anything. I’m not sure why but I have actually grown to like it in some beers. Some hate it, which I totally get. Not many people want to suck on cigarette butts, but I love butts it turns out. If you really hate smoked beer then perhaps take a look at this instead.

For those who like the smoke, then let’s forge on. To get the smoke flavor I could just buy smoked malt, but in the spirit of getting weird that’s just too easy. So I got out the grill, got some coals, and yet again smoked them myself. The steps for this went as follows:

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1. Soaked a bunch of hickory wood chips for 1 hour in water.
2. Pulled 1/3 of the grist and put it into an oven safe container.
3. Lit the coals and put them to one side, and put the grains to the other side.
4. Added the soaked oaked chips to the coals.
5. Covered the grill and let the grains smoke for one hour still spraying them occasionally with water.

I will note that I have never tried a Grodziskie, nor have I ever even seen it in stores or on tap anywhere. So I will have nothing to reference except my own shitty palate. Maybe I’ll break out some gouda for the tasting, or invite this guy over. I’ll stop typing now.

Recipe:

Batch Size: 2 Gallons (Which became 1 gallon)
Target OG: 1.045
SRM: 3.8
Est ABV: 4.5%
IBU: 28
Boil Time: 60

Malt:
93.3% – German Wheat
6.7% – Acid Malt

Hops:
.50 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh (2.4% AA) @ 60 Min
.50 oz of Perle (3.4% AA) @ 30 Min

Yeast:
Wyeast 1007 German Ale

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 7/9/16

I will note that I keep getting terrible efficiency with my boils using my 5 gallon kettle, which makes sense due to less service area to boil-off. My pre-boil numbers aren’t too far off, but come post-boil it’s usually not great on numbers all around.

I combined the grains I smoked with the rest and mashed in at 152F. I did not do a multi-mash step (almost did though, and not a bad idea to at least do a protein rest to break up the proteins that are in wheat malt).

I did not test the pH, but I have been hitting mid-to-low 5s using 6.5% acid malt (for my water profile).

7/10/16: Strong fermentation. The fridge is set at 62F.

7/14/16: Too strong a fermentation. I needed a blow-off tube it turns out. Raised the temp to 65F.

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7/17/16: Gravity at 1.010. Transferred a gallon off into whatever is sloshing around the Funky Bucket, and the other gallon I transferred and started to cold crash to help clear it up. In hindsight I probably should have waited at least another week in the primary or in the secondary for the yeast to clean up some, but at least the final gravity was about where it should have been?

7/29/16: Bottled.

8/27/17 Tasting notes:

Not having ever tasted a Grodziskie, I would say this turned out pretty damn good. The smoke flavor and aroma is pretty strong, which I would imagine would be the case with a 100% smoked wheat malt as is the case with the historical brewing method. I’m glad I only smoked 1/3 of the grist as any more and it would be too much. Aside from that, the flavor is clean and has a nice light lager taste and mouthfeel. I don’t get any hop flavor and aroma as the smoke is what dominates this. I like it as is personally, but for someone who wants more subtle smoke the amount of smoked malt would need to be dialed back a touch. Another option to “dial back” the smoke would be to maybe age this a bit longer as the smoke will probably fade some over time. Next up a Rauchbier?

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