With the clean feel of a kӧlsch, the spicy wheat of a summer ale, robust smokiness, a slight sour finish and billowing, foamy effervescence, Mad Scientists #14, the Grätzer, is almost surely like nothing you’ve ever tried.
Produced for hundreds of years near the border of Poland and Germany, this traditional style has been on the verge of extinction for some time. There are very few examples of it produced in the U.S. and, with the closing of the last Polish Grätzer brewery in 1994, it has almost disappeared there as well.
Premiere beer writer Michael Jackson once called Grätzer (also known as Grodzisz) a “world-class beer” – surely this is a style that demands investigation. But where to begin?
The road to crafting a Grätzer in true old world spirit is laden with barriers. The unique brew is made with nearly 100% smoked wheat, a product that only became commercially available in the past couple years, a factor that contributes to the brew’s extreme rarity. In addition, an all-wheat mash does not have the advantage of the barley husk, an element crucial to mashing, as it provides a natural filter during lautering and run-off of the wort. To counter, the Sixpoint brew-crew added rice hulls to the mash for filtration.
Even after adding the rice hulls, the mash was impressively compact and offered our brew crew a rather healthy workout.
In addition, the team acquired the rare Grätzer yeast traditionally used with the style, as well as Polish Lublin hops, a strain known for light bitterness and pleasant aroma. This brew, at 3.8% ABV and 30 IBUs, is as authentic as they come.
There is some hope for the dying Grätzer, you should know. The Polish Homebrewing Association began hosting an annual contest in 2011 to recreate the indigenous Polish beer style. If the old-world Grätzer does indeed return, just remember where you tried it first!
Brewmaster Jan Matysiak and head brewer Pete Dickson share about investigating and creating the rare smoked-wheat brew.
A style nearly lost to the world is explored once more – Sixpoint’s Mad Scientists’ #14.