How To Brew Piwo Grodziskie

by Steve Thanos Updated on August 1, 2021 Historical Beer Brewing Recipes

Piwo Grodziskie (pronounced Grow-Jees-K’Ya) is a Polish smoked wheat beer. Poland’s contribution to the brewing world began in the sixth or seventh century as tribes setted in the region.

This beer also is known as Grätz, which will be explained later. A part of the beer’s popularity was in large part due to the legend of Bernard of Wabrzeźno, a monk from the Benedictine monastery in Luniń. 

The Miracle Water

Upon a visit to Grodzisk, Bernard witnessed people dying of disease, thirst, and hunger. The city wells were dry, even the largest one just outside of brewery.

As the story goes, Bernard began to pray and soon after the well began to refill. It was also said that all who drank from the well were healed.

The brewers in town used this as a way to draw interest in their beer. They claimed their beer was “something truly extraordinary” since they used the same water in this well.

Quality Control

By the mid 1600s with brewing becoming more industrualized, Grodzisk became a highly value wheat beer. Each batch of beer brewed was tasted by the town’s mayor.

The mayor himself decided on the standard of the beer and whether the beer should indeed be released to the public. Any brewer trying to cheat the system in any way was stripped of his brewing status for life. 

Popularity of Grodziskie

By the 1700s, Grodziskie became so popular that it monopolized the beer scene in Poland. The popularity of the beer paved its way to becoming a distinct style.

Even beer historian, Ron Pattinson referenced it in the German Oeconomischen Encyclopädie

In 1793, as result of the Second Partition of Poland, Grodzisk became part of Prussia. The third partitioning of Poland occurred in 1795 and would cause the disappearance of the Polish state.

By 1918, the Polish people regained their independence. The town of Grodzisk was now known as Grätz, which is why the beer is known as both Grodziskie and Grätz. 

Reviving the Style

By the 1990s, there was hope to revive the style by brewing three versions of the style. Grodziskie, a light 2.5% ABV, Grodziskie Specjalne, a light 3.5% ABV, Bernadyñskie, a darker beer at 3% to 5% ABV.

The Grodziskie style all but disappeared for nearly twenty years. That was until Randy Mosher brewed a version for famous beer writer, Michael Jackson. Jackson even wrote about it in the forward to Moser’s book, Radical Brewing. Mosher also included his recipe to this beer in his book. 

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Style Profile for Piwo Grodziskie

Appearance

Piwo Grodziskie ales are pale yellow to medium gold. The beer should have superb clarity. Tightly-knit bubbles creates a pillowy white head. Head retention should be superb as well. 

Aroma

The aroma is clean with the most noticeable aspect of the beer being the light to moderate oaky wood smoke, but can be subtle.

Hops can come through as lightly spicy, floral, or herbal. Hops should not be overpowering Light fruity esters are present, such as pear or red apple. The wheat should be present. 

Flavor

The oak smoke notes in the aroma can be stronger in the taste. The smoke should never be acrid. Instead it should be gentle and giving some slight sweetness to the beer.

Balance is leaning toward bitterness, with medium to high bitterness. The bitterness hits mid palate and stays through the finish. Some low fruit esters – pear and red apple.

Graininess of the wheat is present in the background. Hops can come through as lightly spicy, floral, or herbal.

Mouthfeel

Carbonation is high and creates a prickly sensation with its light body, No alcohol warmth. Finish is dry and crisp. 

Tips for Brewing your own Piwo Grodziskie

Grain

Traditionally the grist for this style is 100% Oak smoked wheat malt. Randy Mosher in Radical Brewing talks about using about 93% smoked wheat and using 7% non-smoked wheat.

This will subdue the smoke qualities of the beer and will give the beer some more color. You can also sub out some smoked wheat for some pilsner malt. 

Hops

Usually the hop variety Nowotomyski (Tomyski) was used in this style. It is a low alpha hop developed in the 1830s and grown in the city of Nowy Tomyśi. This hop is nearly impossible to find these days.

Lubin hops are also associated with this style. If Lubin is not available, Noble hops such as Saaz, Terrnanger, Hallertau, or Spalt will work just fine. 

Yeast

There is a wide selection of yeast to choose from for this style.

They include the following: 

  • White Labs: German/Kölsch Ale (WLP029), California Ale (WLP001)
  • Wyeast: German Ale (1007), American Ale (1056)
  • Dry Yeast: Fermentis SafAle German Ale Yeast (K-97)

Piwo Grodziskie By the Numbers

  • Color Range: 3 – 6 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.028 – 1.032 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.006 – 1.012 FG
  • IBU Range: 20 – 35
  • ABV Range: 2.5 – 3.3% 

Martin Keen’s Piwo Grodziskie Recipe

Grain

  • 100%            6 lbs       Oak Smoked Wheat Malt

Hops

  • 1 oz         Hallertauer – Boil – 60 min
  • 1 oz         Hallertauer – Boil – 15 min

Yeast

  • 1.0 pkg   German Ale  Wyeast #1007

Transcript: Today I am brewing the curious Polish beer style of a Piwo Grodziskie. And I’m going to figure out what to do with this.

Hello. My name is Martin Keen taking the Homebrew Challenge to brew 99 beers. You know, if I was left to my own devices, I’d just be brewing the same beer styles over and over again; Belgian Tripel, Irish Stout, English Bitter, German lager, that sort of thing.

Taking the Homebrew challenge means I get to brew stuff like this, like this Polish beer Piwo Grodziskie, otherwise known as Grätz.

So this one, I actually delayed opening the bag, which has come straight to me from Atlantic brew supply. And that’s because I think there’s going to be quite an interesting smell from this malt.

So today’s recipe uses only one malt in the mash.

And what is that malt style you may ask? Well, you can’t smell it. I can. And I can tell you, it smells a little bit smokey. This is Oak smoked wheat malt.

Because this is all wheat malt, I do have some rice hulls here. I’m going to throw a very inexact amount and a couple of handfuls, just helps to make sure that the water continues to flow and recirculate well through this mash bed.

Now this malt can be mashed via a step mesh. If you’re going by tradition, you can spend hours on your step mash, but I’m taking the easy shortcut and I’m just mashing this at 152 Fahrenheit or 67 Celsius.

So while that’s mashing, let’s have a very short chat about the ingredients for today’s beer.

So you’re ready with your pen and paper to write down all of these ingredients. Well, original gravity, it’s low, it’s very low. I’m going with an original gravity here of 10 30, around about 3% ABV for this beer.

And it is a smash beer. So I mentioned there’s only one ingredient in the grist that is Oak smoked wheat, and I’m using Hallertauer as my hop. So this is a pretty straightforward beer to brew, but you’re still going to get some of that with the fact that it is a wheat beer. So it’s going to have that pleasing mouthfeel and also that oat smoked quality as well.

Now, Piwo Grodziskie is a Polish beer. In the 1700’s, this beer was the most popular style in the country, but by the 1990s, there were no commercial versions to be found. It had in effect gone completely extinct.

Now in 2010, the Polish association of homebrewers was founded and began a campaign to revive the style. So while still obscure the styles back from the dead and mashing away in my brew kettle.

Now this beer, despite being quite low in gravity is fairly well hopped. As I mentioned, I’m using Hallertauer for my hops and we’re going to get to about 30 IBU here. So the way I’m going to do that is I’m going to put one bag or an ounce of Hallertauer in at the start of the boiler. So at 60 minutes, and then another bag goes in at 15 minutes.

I’ve put a good number of brews through these two spike fermenters now, and I’m really getting the hang of using them. I think the only thing that I could really do with improving in my process relates to actually getting stuff in and out of them, and particularly as it relates to cleaning.

Clean In Place

So take this CF5, for example, this is empty drained of beer and I need to clean it. This thing is not the easiest thing to move around. It’s quite big and it’s connected to a bunch of stuff. I’ve got my glycol here. I’ve got my temperature probe. I’ve got a heating mat plugged in as well. So if, if only there was a way to clean these things in place?

So enter the C I P ball; CIP is clean in place. Basically you provide this with water and it will spray it out the bottom here and give everything a good clean. Let’s give it a try.

So hooked up my CIP ball into a port in the lid here, and then just attached this attachment here so I can connect a hose to it. I’ve also removed the temperature probe and replaced it just with a bit of tubing here. This is just to make sure that we don’t get any kind of vacuum in here. So this is really as a vent.

What I’m going to do now is get some water into this and just sort of flush it out by running hot water through the CIP ball. As that water’s going in, I’m going to drain it out of this bottom port.

That seems to be running quite clear now. So that’s probably got the worst of the gunk out. I’ve now added about a gallon of warm water. And to that I’m adding two ounces of PBW, which I just pour on the top here. I’ve hooked this up to be a recirculating system. So at the bottom here, we’re going to go into my brewing pump. The pump is going to push the water back out through the CIP ball agian. I’m just going to recirculate this through the pump for about 30 minutes.

Well, it’s noisy, but hopefully that’s doing the trick. And by the way, this vent I feel air coming out here. So that bit’s important.

Now, after 30 minutes, I drained all of the PBW out just on the bottom here. And then I added some water through the CIP to kind of clean everything out, flush that through as well.

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Since then I have put some more water in and a little bit of star san. And I was recirculating.that for a few minutes as well. So now what I want to do is I still don’t want to move this thing. Now it’s already clean. So I want to get rid of the star san that’s in here and replace it with lovely beer. And speaking of lovely beer, the beer has come out with the expected original gravity of 10 30. So now I’m going to get it transferred in here.

First of all, let’s drain the PBW out of this thing. And remove the vent that I added earlier. And I’m going to take out the CIP ball, but just leave this connector still on the top. So now I’m going to go out of my plate chiller and into here. Nice. I didn’t have to move anything around. That’s very handy.

Okay. Last thing that need in here, some yeast. And well, this beer does not need a very expressive yeast. All of the expression is really coming through that smoked wheat malt. So I’m going to use German ale. This is wyeast 1007 and ferment at about 68 Fahrenheit or 20 Celsius.

I’m going to squeeze this in through here and going to add an air lock at the top. That’s it. I’m done.

So I have a new taster. Uh, Lauren is just refusing to try these smoked beers. So Evan, I’m hoping maybe your palette might appreciate some of these things.

I can pretend wasn’t there some controversy with a previous smoke-beer you did? Yeah, because you use too much, was it smoked malt or was it something else? Yes, it was. I, I use Cherrywood smoke malt and uh, I used almost a hundred percent, but not quite.

And that was way too much, way too much, but this style is supposed to use a hundred percent of smoke malt. I mean, it looks good not to not heavily carbonated sort of like hazy, can’t see through it, but I haven’t gone for a smell yet.

Should it smell very smoky? It will smell smoky. Okay. So I think so.

Yeah. Yeah. It smells smoky, but not as like bonfire-y as the previous smoke beer. Right. Okay. So we should just try it. That’s saying it’s time. Yeah. Okay.

It’s not great if I am honest. It lingers. Can you still feel in the back of your throat? It’s not super strong me looking at it makes me think it’s going to taste a certain way. And then when I taste it, it’s just, I’m looking at this and it’s like, this could be like a sour or maybe like a lighter wheat beer.

And then it goes down. It just completely, cause it looks really good, but I, I do think it is drinkable. I do think it’s light enough to where, you know, the other smoke beers that you had before, where it’s just like, you didn’t even want to drink it anymore. I feel like if this came on a flight or in a small amount or something like that. You probably can get through it. It’s not bad. It’s not bad.

I mean, I just, it’s not a flavor I’d probably pick, but it’s very drinkable. I think actually, no, there’s a good point that I’ve had about that much. That’s what I think we’re smokiness goes away. It’s strongest on the first sip by far. Well, when the smokiness has gone away, when you sort of got over the initial shock of the smokiness, it’s actually just kind of quite a light. It’s very, it’s very, yeah, it’s very light.

Well, I think it’s safe to say of the three smoked beers. This is probably been the best of the three. Um, I like wheat bears in general. And even if it’s smoky wheat, I think I still quite like it.

Next week, I am moving back to making a lager, which I’m actually pretty excited about because it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of those. But until then, thank you for doing the tasting. I’m glad we found a, a smoke beer that’s tolerable.

Is this is where we do it? Cheers. Uh, yes. Well, cheers.

Steve Thanos: Former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.