Episode 17: Dyngus Day and a Grodziske with Bill Serowski
Happy Dyngus Day!
Since this is a regional podcast, I asume you're all aware of Dyngus Day. It's the day after Easter, and Dyngus Day is a Polish tradition culminating in a post-lenton festival and parade.
That's at least what it looks like in Buffalo: The Official Dyngus Day Capital of the World. To go back and figure out the history of any holiday, religious or otherwise, gets complicated and difficult. What concerns me more is the celebration of Polish culture. Being Polish and Irish guarantees some spring-time activities and in Buffalo that translates to beer. I've tried to stray away from the Killians, Guiness, and colored German or Canadian lagers in favor of local examples of similar beers.
Aviator Red is my go-to beer while at Schwabls and Hamburg's Irish Red was a nice change, which hit me more bitter than other examples.
In this episode, Clay and I try a Pivo Grodziske from Jopen in Haarlem, Netherlands. It's an historic style from Grodzisk, Poland featuring a 100% smoked-wheat grain bill. The people of Grodzisk, and the former workers of the brewery there, hold a competition each year to see which homebrewer can make the best representation of what this beer used to be.
A Pivo Grodziske in modern times is also known as a Gratzer, taking it's name from the same town but while under Prussian or German rule, although this bottle claims to be based on an older recipe and differs from a Grazer in it's yeast strain.
Sometimes called “Polish Champagne” because of it's carbonation, I found this to be a balanced and understated beer. Samual Adams put out a Gratzer last year as part of their Long Shot 6-pack that packed a significant increase in smoked flavor which overpowered the beer. This example of a Grodziske, in contrast to the Sam Adams offering, is easily drinkable and at 4% would be a great addition to a summer cookout.
Making a Gratzer/Grodziske
One of the members of Das Hausbrauers, Bill Serowski, has been making Gratzers regularly for the past year or so. His beer was featured on episode 59 of Dr. Homebrew, where the panel members admitted a lack of experience with the style. Who can blame them when someone sends them a beer based on a style that is regional to a small Polish town and, of which, the last commercial example has been out of production since 1993?
Bill, a really knowledgeable brewer and BJCP judge, has been working on his recipe and techniques to make a Gratzer he can be proud of.