27A. Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie

Overall Impression

A low-gravity, bitter, oak-smoked historical central European wheat beer with a clean fermentation profile and no sourness. Highly carbonated, dry, crisp, and refreshing.


Pale yellow to gold in color with excellent clarity. A tall, billowy, white, tightly-knit head with excellent retention is distinctive. Murkiness is a fault.


Low to moderate oak wood smoke is the most prominent aroma component, but can be subtle and hard to detect. A low spicy, herbal, or floral hop aroma is typically present, and should be lower than or equal to the smoke in intensity. Hints of grainy wheat are also detected in the best examples. The aroma is otherwise clean, although light pome fruit esters (especially ripe red apple or pear) are welcome. No acidity. Light sulfur optional.


Moderately-low to medium oak smoke flavor up front which carries into the finish; the smoke can be stronger in flavor than in aroma. The smoke character is gentle, should not be acrid, and can lend an impression of sweetness. A moderate to strong bitterness is readily evident which lingers through the finish. The overall balance is toward bitterness. Low but perceptible spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor. Low grainy wheat character in the background. Light pome fruit esters (red apple or pear) may be present. Dry, crisp finish. No sourness.


Light in body, with a crisp and dry finish. Carbonation is quite high and can add a slight carbonic bite or prickly sensation. No alcohol warmth.


Pronounced in English as “pivo grow-JEES-kee-uh” (meaning: Grodzisk beer). Known as Grätzer (pronounced “GRATE-sir”) in German-speaking countries, and in some beer literature. Traditionally made using a multi-step mash, a long boil (~2 hours), and multiple strains of ale yeast. The beer is never filtered but Isinglass is used to clarify before bottle conditioning. Traditionally served in tall conical glassware to accommodate the vigorous foam stand.


Developed as a unique style centuries ago in the Polish city of Grodzisk (known as Grätz when ruled by Prussia and Germany). Its fame and popularity rapidly extended to other parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. Regular commercial production declined after WWII and ceased in the 1990s. This style description describes the traditional version during its period of greatest popularity.

Characteristic Ingredients

Oak-smoked wheat malt, which has a less intense smoke character than German Rauchmalz, and a drier, crisper, leaner quality – a smoky bacon or ham flavor is inappropriate. Traditional Polish, Czech or German hops. Moderate hardness sulfate water. Clean, attenuative ale yeast; Weizen yeast inappropriate.

Style Comparison

Similar in strength to a Berliner Weisse, but never sour and much more bitter. Has a smoked character but less intense than in a Rauchbier. Lower gravity than a Lichtenhainer, but more bitter and not sour. More bitter than a Gose, but no salt and spices.

Vital Statistics


20 - 35


3 - 6


1.028 - 1.032


1.006 - 1.012


2.5% - 3.3%

Commercial Examples

Live Oak Grodziskie.