The Polish beer style Grodziskie, also called Grätzer, is one of a number of European wheat-based beers that landed on the endangered species list toward the end of the 20th century and are being revived both in their native land and, more often, in the United States. Dubbed Polish Champagne, Grodziskie was sold at premium prices at the beginning of the 20th century. But unlike the immensely tart Berliner Weisse and Gose, Grodziskie was once praised for its oak-smoked aroma and flavor, the low-alcohol wheat-based brew adopting kielbasa-like qualities from the process of drying malt over a wood fire.
And while the Polish Homebrewers Association was instrumental in the revival of its homeland’s brew with a series of events beginning in 2011 that made information about brewing the hammy sessions and the key ingredients more readily available, American Grodziskies’ profiles run the gamut from fruit juice sweet to hop-forward good and all are smoky. Case in point: these limited-release, small-batch New England varieties, which you should grab before they go extinct.
SAMUEL ADAMS LONGSHOT GRÄTZER
Cesar Marron tapped into the Grodziskie style for a homebrew he entered into the 2013 Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest. It was one of three winning beers to score a spot in the 2014 LongShot six-pack, exposing the antiquated beer style to its broadest audience since before World War II. The beer itself is refreshing, but with bacon-like smokiness and a slightly heavier 4.4 percent ABV.
WHITE BIRCH BREWING FIRST SPARROW
First Sparrow is New Hampshire-based White Birch Brewing’s modern-day take on the near-forgotten style. The heavily hopped 3.8 percent ABV wheat beer exudes a cigar scent coming from the smoked Rauchmalts, followed by a sweeter, fruitier, less meaty impression that goes down easy with a tight-bubbled gulp.
SCHILLING BEER CO. GRÄTZER
New Hampshire’s Schilling Beer’s Grätzer is light and refreshing, embellishing lemony wheat with a smoldering fireplace aroma that’s subtle enough on the tongue to taste its undertones of fruit and grain. Smokiness can be a polarizing flavor, but this is just what you want from your brew. And fireplace.
CISCO BREWERS INC. RUMPLE GRÄTZER BIER
The Massachusetts brewer has been gaining a reputation for crafting quality wild ales, and Rumple Grätzer Bier fits nicely into the sour suds lineup. It’s one of the few sour-er versions of the slowly returning Grodziskie style, with a prominent oaky smoke finish that latches onto a musty, vinegary mouth of pucker. Think of it as eating a lemon while smoking a cigar. Or don’t and just drink the beer.