Thursday, April 2, 2009

Grodzisk Wielkopolski--Birthplace of Grodziskie Beer

Recently I saw a mention by Joe Sixpack about Grodziski-style ale which a collaboraton between Iron Hill Brewery and Yards tried to recreate.

I was curious, being Polish myself, and I wanted to try to find out something about this beer. At the Grodzisk Wielkopolsi city website I discovered a very interesting story behind this beer...

The thing that chiefly made Grodzisk Wielkopolski Poland famous, was the Grodziskie beer.

During the Middle Ages the beer was not produced here but there was a breakthrough in the second half of the 16th century which began a period of brewing glory in the city, with the first brewery opening in 1601.

At the end of the 18th century there were 53 breweries in the city!

The unique taste of the beer was based not only on the special ingredients and fermenting techniques but also on the rich tasting water.

The special water used in the Grodziskie beer is legendary and the story goes something like this. The Blessed Father Bernard of the Benedictine monastery in Lublin went to Grodziska and saw that the townspeople were suffering greatly because the well from which they drew water for the city brewery and its hospital had run dry. It didn't help that the brewery was also the only source of income for the city. Since the situation was unfortunate and the townspeople were deeply religious, Father Bernard blessed the well. The well soon started to produce water and the townspeople found to their amazement, wonder, and joy that the water made the beer taste better than it had ever tasted before! Residents of Grodziska form a memorial procession every year to Lublin and there on the grave of Father Bernard at the monastery they lay a gift of a barrel of beer.

Over time, the Grodziskie beer grew in popularity and high opinion, and eventually commanded a price three times ordinary beer. The only beer that could call itself traditional Grodziskie beer came from Grodzisk Wielkopolski, Poland.

Near as I could tell, the Grodziskie beer used top fermenting yeast and oak and/or beech smoked wheat malt.

The 2nd world war contributed to a decline in interest in Grodziskie beer. At the end of 1993 the brewery ended production of the golden Grodziskie beer.

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