When I first heard of an all Polish beer, I was like… I have to make this. Since that time, I’ve done a fair amount of research and have crafted 2 versions of this classic brew. Each time I brewed it, I felt a bit closer to my Polish ancestors. With the smokey smells filling my apartment on brew day, I could almost imagine myself going back in time to visit those ancient Polish brewers.
Gratzer is an “ancient” style of beer, originally brewed in Poland in the 15th century. It consists of a grain bill of 100% oak smoked wheat, giving it a totally unique flavor, and a middle of the road hop bitterness, lending some aggression to balance out the softer wheat profile. This style of beer was almost lost during the turn of the century when the last commercial gratzer brewery closed its doors. Thankfully, this fantastic and unique beer has recently begun a revival in the craft beer industry
My first time making this beer taught me a lot of things. First, a 100% wheat beer needs rice hulls or you will get a stuck sparge. Also, unless you treat it right, wheat has a very low diastatic power, so you will not be able to get as much bang for your buck pound wise compared to 2-row or Pilsner malts. Finally, smoke flavor is very variable in how it presents in beer. In some styles a little can go a long way, but in others even a huge grist of smoked malt can give a subtle flavor.
That being said, gratzer is a a fun and reasonably easy style that can be brewed both as a full strength or a session beer. For my first gratzer, I went with a 50-50 ratio of smoked malt to wheat malt, but I thought that the smoke was just a bit too subtle. On this second round, I tried a 100% Oak Smoked Malt Grain bill. The result is a slap your face silly smokey oaky aroma and a pungent yet satisfying smoked taste. Despite the very low gravity of this beer the wheat gives this beer a good backbone.
OG: 1.024 — FG: 1.004 — ABV: 2.5%
- 7 lb Oaked Smoked Wheat
- 1.5 oz Hallertauer at 90 minutes
- .5 oz Hallertauer at 15 minutes
Yeast: Wyeast 1007 (German Ale)
Mashed at 150 for 90 minutes; Boil was approximately 2.5 hours
Fermented at 64 for 3 weeks