Category Archives: Beer

Moody Ales Beer Battle Royale: Amber / Red Ales

Battle of the Amber/Red Ales

Are you ready to ruuummbbblllee!? What better way to start off the holiday season with a little friendly brew battle? Tuesday December 1, 2015marks Moody Ale’s first Beer Battle Royale! In this round, we’ll be bringing forward four uniquely different amber/red ales. We will have Roxanne’s “Red Light” Honey Red Ale, Dan’s American Red Ale, Robyn’s Ginger Red Ale, and last but certainly not least, Adam and Sho’s Chocolate Rye “Red” Ale. Who will rise to taste delicious malty victory and who will fall flat? (haha beer jokes)

Red Ale: primarily a catch all for any beer less than a Dark Ale in colour, ranging from amber to deep red hues. This style of beer tends to focus on the malts, but hop character can range from low to high. Expect a balanced beer, with toasted malt characters and a light fruitiness in most examples.

BeerAdvocate

Here’s what they each had to say about their tasty creations:

What is the story/inspiration behind this beer? Have you made this red ale before?

Roxy: “The story of the Honey Red Ale started last November when I asked a friend of mine what beer he would like me to make for Christmas.  His request was for a red ale, which was a great request for me because it had never really crossed my mind to make that style.  Honey Red Ale had a nice ring to it and sounded delicious, so I concocted a recipe and tried it out!”

Dan: “I’ve always been a fan of red and amber ales. Back before the prevalence of craft beer I used to drink a lot of Rickard’s Red. Originally this recipe was an IRA (India Red Ale) because I was really into hoppy beers at the time. I certainly enjoyed it but some of my friends and family that weren’t so into hops thought it was too hoppy. I decided to convert the recipe to an American Red Ale (basically less hop bitterness compared to the original recipe). The hop profile is made up of additions of Chinook and Cascade used both for bittering and aroma. A healthy dose of both are used for dry hopping as well.”

Robyn: “I developed a fondness for traditional ginger beers while backpacking around the UK. I wanted to brew a beer with a nice ginger punch balanced with a sweet and malty body. Why red? I was on a craze with a newly discovered (for me) Carared malt at the time and was throwing it in everything.”

Adam & Sho: “Sho and I haven’t made this beer before.  I was inspired to make a red ale after reading about a grain from Best Malz called Red-X.  After committing to brewing a red ale I found out that everyone is currently sold out of this grain – but as they say – the show must go on!  I wanted to do something with rye and chocolate malt, with a hint of mint.  Sho and I chatted about this and he came up with a recipe which we tweaked a bit and ultimately brewed.  I was also partially inspired to do this to beat Dan in the Battle Red Ales. The beer tastes more or less as I expected, maybe not as sweet as I thought it would – but it seems to be more brown than red – which is why we called it Adam and Sho’s Chocolate Rye ‘Red’ Ale.”-Adam

“For the battle, Adam had the idea for a red ale with chocolate overtones, minty hop flavour, and a bit of spiciness from rye. I threw together the recipe, we revised it, and then the beer got brewed. Since it’s the newest and least established recipe, it’s kind of the dark horse in this race.”-Sho

Tell us about the beer and the ingredients used to make it:

Roxy: “When making this beer I wanted it to have a deep red hue, a nice malty roastyness with pronounced flavour and aroma coming through from hops and honey.  I’ve used a variety of malts in this beer including Chocolate, Caramel, Crystal, and Munich.  The hops used were Willamette and Cascade, and last but not least I added honey for a lightly sweet aroma.  I find the best way to enjoy this beer is to let it warm up ever so slightly and swirl it in the glass to really bring out the honey and hop aromas.”

Dan: “There are 7 types of barley used in this beer. The base is a blend of Canadian 2-row pale malt and UK Maris Otter, which gives the beer a nice underlying nuttiness. A combination of amber, dark munich, crystal, and chocolate malts contribute to colour and provide a balanced roasty caramel sweetness. Lastly, a small amount of flaked oats helps to round out the mouthfeel.”

Robyn: “The beer’s base is a American Red Ale with an addition of honey and fresh ginger in the boil. After fermentation more fresh ginger is added to the secondary to give it a bit more zip.”

Adam & Sho: “This beer is a Chocolate Rye Red Ale.  It uses pale malt, some mid coloured crystal malts and lots of pale chocolate and rye malts.  Northern Brewer hops provide a hint of minty-ness.  I think there may also be some holiday cheer in this one.”- Adam

“The beer’s got a good dose of rye malt for spiciness, a mild minty quality from Northern Brewer hops, and a large dose of pale chocolate malt for some rich, malty, chocolatey taste. It’s like a thin mint inspired milk shake re-imagined in beer form.”-Sho

If you had to choose any one else besides yourself, who do you think would win the battle of the red ales/ which red ale is your favourite (besides yours)?

Roxy: “What I love about this battle is each of the Red Ales is unique and completely different from the other ones!  If I had to choose a favourite it would be Robyn’s Ginger Red.  It’s the perfect comforting and delicious beer for this time of year!  Plus I am a sucker for ginger.”

Dan: “The other three red ales are all really good and I will be drinking my share of all three, but if I had to pick a favourite it would probably be the Ginger Red Ale. I’m a sucker for red ales and I’m a sucker for ginger so it’s only natural that I would gravitate towards this one.”

Robyn: “I’d say it’s a toss up between Dan American Red or Roxy’s Turn off the Red Light. Both are extremely delicious yet incredibly different.”

Adam & Sho: “this is a tough one, each of these beers is different and enjoyable in it’s own right.  I think I have to choose Roxy’s Honey Red though.  She’s brewed this a few times and I really like it, the honey comes through, it’s got a nice maltiness with balanced hops.”-Adam

“I think Dan’s red has some excellent hop aroma that keeps me drinking. But then Roxy’s red is infinitely drinkable. On the other hand I can’t think of any other beer than Robyn’s gingered red that I would rather have next to a large plate of Korean fried chicken.”-Sho

What are you brewing next? What will the next battle be?

Roxy: “I have a bunch of beers on the go at home so I’ll see if any of them pass the test to make at the brewery.  Maybe we can do a Battle Stout Galactica?  Whatever we do I’m pumped for the next challenge!”

Dan: “It’s hard to say when we’ll have another battle of the beers or exactly what that will look like. We have so many recipes to squeeze into our brew schedule so the stars may not align again for a little while. I do have a couple of other ideas for similar types of events so stay tuned…”

Robyn: “I’ll be brewing up a rauchbier, a smoked German lager. Hmm… next battle? I’d say a cask off perhaps?”

Adam & Sho: “I’ve been thinking a lot about Belgian quadruples – It’s the time of year for something big and sticky to keep us warm at night!  Battle of the quads could get a bit messy though!”-Adam

“I’ll be making a biere de mars, an amber farmhouse ale. I think I’m done with battles, maybe a reconciliation collaboration brew to mend our relationship.”-Sho

 

Now that you’re all enticed (and most likely thirsty), come join us at the launch of our first Beer Battle Royale right here in the Moody Ales tasting lounge on Tuesday December 1st! You’ll be able to sample all four delicious red ales in a beer flight and judge for yourselves! But hurry, because there is only one keg of each!

 

-Gabby

 

 

Guest Tap #10 – Novia’s Smoked IPA

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

The Moody Ales Guest Tap program has reached double digits with Guest Tap #10. This batch of Smoked IPA was brewed on our pilot system by Novia Chen, a relatively new brewer, who along with her partner Sho Ogawa, are making a big splash on the home brew scene!

Here is the question and answer session with Novia:


Dan: How did you get into homebrewing?

Novia: Being a long-term beneficiary of my partner Sho’s homebrew and having participated in developing foreign extra stout for our first competition, I figured that it would have been even more fun and constructive towards the creation of the beer that we drink at home if I also brew.

Dan: How long have you been brewing?

Novia: I assisted in Sho’s brewing sessions from time to time, and did my first one-gallon brew of a farmhouse ale in May, 2015. We’ve worked together on 22 batches since.

Dan: Best and worst beer you’ve made at home?

Novia: Smoked IPA turned out to be my favorite, although our plum Oud Bruin got better reviews. All the beer that we’ve made is good so far!

Dan: Why this beer?  What was the inspiration?

Novia: For some reason, Sho and I really enjoy making odd-sounding or rare beer styles. The combination of smoked beer and IPA immediately grabbed our interest. Having just moved back to town from Connecticut, USA, I can’t deny that the east coast Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA made an impact on this beer.

Dan: Tell us about the beer and the ingredients used.

Novia: We went for simple malt bill: 2-row, dark munich and beechwood smoked malt. I decided on a mix of US and Australian hops that could bring forward citrus and stone fruit notes which were magnum, palisade, galaxy and topaz. Sho wanted super resiny hops, but we went with my plan.


Novia’s Smoked IPA comes in at 6.9% with an IBU of 43. The beer goes on tap at Moody Ales on Tuesday, November 24th and as with all the guest taps, there are only 100L of this brew, so get in and get it while it lasts!

-Dan

Guest Tap #9 – Redemption Cascadian Dark Ale

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

The Moody Ales Guest Tap program lives on with the introduction of Guest Tap #9. This time around our guest brewer is not one, but two awesome home brewer’s Amy and Mathew.  Lovers of craft beer, Amy can be found working at the Lounge of our good friends Dageraad Brewing.

Inspired by a friend’s homebrew which opened their eyes to how good homebrew could be, they started brewing for themselves in March of 2015 – this makes the fact that they ran this brew almost on their own on our pilot system even more impressive.

Their worst brew to date?  A delicious IPA that didn’t carbonate – flat beer isn’t very good.  They say their best brew was the version of this CDA they brought us a a couple of months ago, the reason they we are here today!

So why brew a CDA? We’ll let Amy tell you.   “Quite honestly, it was inspired by a bar of soap that a friend made.  It was dark brown in colour, and smelled like lemon.  I thought I have to brew a beer like this!  With light citrus flavour on a dark malt base.  Voila!

This was a fun project.  Matthew was in charge of the malt profile, and after researching, he decided on Maris Otter, Crystal 30, and Carafa Special II

Amy came up with the hops varieties and schedule.  We used Cascade, Centennial, Citra and Sorachi Ace, in hopes that their citrus flavours would come through in the beer.
We were also gifted some lemon balm by some friends who suggested we might brew with it one day.  Well, they were right!  This was the beer that needed the lemon balm, and we were excited to incorporate it!”

gt9

We’ll be launching the Redemption Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) on Tuesday November 3rd. As with all the guest taps, there are only 100L of this brew, so get in and get it while it lasts!

– Adam

Guest Tap #8 – Belles Big Hearted Ale

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

The Moody Ales Guest Tap program keeps flowing with the introduction of Guest Tap #8. This time around our guest brewer is none other than our very own Julian Zelazny! Julian is a Master BJCP beer judge and a lover of craft beer. He can be found several nights a week serving beer behind the bar in our lounge.

With 31 years of home brewing under his belt, Julian is by far our most experienced guest brewer to date. He got into home brewing in 1984 with a desire to discover more kinds of interesting beer. He had traveled in Europe and saw how good beer could be but found the selection in North America very limited. Home brewing offered a way to reconnect to the beers that he had enjoyed in Europe. Julian’s latest batches have all been produced at the 4th Floor Brewing Company, also known as, his condo.

Julian’s best home brews? “I made some Belgian Dubbels that were pretty tasty. I won some ribbons in competition with that recipe. I also enjoy my IPA recipe (the same one I made at Moody) and my Belgian Pale ale. I made a Hefeweizen with fresh raspberries a few times that was very popular with friends and family.”

Julian’s worst home brews? “You don’t brew for as long as I have without making a few mistakes. I attempted a Pilsner many years ago that got infected with a lactobacillus bacteria and tasted like beer and sour milk. There have been a few other process upsets that spoiled the batch, luckily not too many.”

This edition of the Guest Tap features an IPA that Julian has playfully named the Belle’s Big Hearted Ale. It is an homage to one of Julian’s favorite IPAs. The Bells Brewing Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan makes a beer called Two Hearted Ale, apparently named for a trout stream where Ernest Hemingway used to fish. Two Hearted Ale is a big bold IPA with a pronounced citrus character that comes from liberal use of Centennial hops. “But lest you think the beer is all hop forward,” say Julian, “there is a strong backbone of barley holding it up with some Vienna, Victory and caramel malts. I lived in the US Midwest for 9 years and faithfully enjoyed Two Hearted at my favourite watering holes while working to perfect my recipe. I hope this beer is a passable representation of Two Hearted.”

We’ll be launching the Belle’s Big Hearted Ale on Friday, September 11th. As with all the guest taps, there are only 100L of this brew, so get in and get it while it lasts!

– Dan

Guest Tap #7 – Nerdberry Pale Ale

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

It’s hard to believe that in only 10 months we’re already at Guest Tap #7! It’s been a lot of fun so far and we’ve been able to enjoy some really good beers!

For our seventh Guest Tap, we will be pouring the Nerdberry Pale Ale, a raspberry pale ale brewed by home brewers Joel and Trevor and our head brewer Dan.

Joel and Trevor’s foray into brewing is a fairly typical story.  Joel helped a friend brew a couple of time back in 1998 and always wanted to get into it. Trevor was thinking about getting into homebrewing because it was a great way to gain access to a large amounts of inexpensive beer. It was a match made in heaven! In the six years since 2009 the duo has brewed 27 batches and counting!

As with most homebrewers, the quality of the beer produced increases with experience. As Joel relates, “Our best beer is hard to pick, but it’s probably batch #26… the raspberry pale ale, which was the inspiration for the batch we made at Moody Ales”.

Other stand outs are the Christmas Ale—a holiday spiced dark beer and the Tennessee Oak Porter—a porter base with whiskey soaked oak chips added in the secondary.

“The worst beer was probably a dunkelweisen we made shortly after we started making double batches. We went through a run of a few batches with excessive DMS. Happy to say we never had any batches that were a total loss though: everything was drinkable and no one died or went blind!”

Joel had always wanted to make a raspberry beer. Back in the mid-90s Joel would drink a raspberry ale by Tall Ship Ales. They aren’t in business any more—they were a microbrewery in Squamish back in the day before craft beer was all the rage that it is now. But that beer made an impression because of the great mix of malt and sour fruit.

The recipe is very simple: mostly 2-row malt and very few hops. With recipe planning Joel and Trevor have learned that it’s important not to over-complicate things. So this is a basic pale ale with some very sweet raspberries added in the secondary. “We think it gives a nice balance and is very refreshing on a hot day.”

This beer came in at 5.6% ABV and a very hoppy 84 IBU. The recipe includes a fairly typical grain bill for an american pale ale: 2-row pale malt and medium crystal malt. Generous quantities of Cascade hops were used both as an early bittering hop and a late aroma hop. Finally when the beer was done primary fermentation 15 lbs of locally sourced raspberries were introduced giving this beer a delicious aroma reminiscent of summer!

We’ll be launching the Nerdberry Pale Ale on Friday, August 28th. As with all the guest taps, there are only 100L of this brew, so get in and get it while it lasts! Joel and Trevor will be hanging out in the lounge enjoying a few pints of this brew with family and friends so don’t hesitate to tap them on the shoulder and chat with them about this beer!

GUEST TAP #6 – Watermelon “Redwheat” IPA

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

For our sixth Guest Tap, we will be pouring a watermelon wheat IPA brewed by home brewers Vince and Julio and our head brewer Dan.

Vince and Julio are local home brewers and long-time craft beer lovers. They’ve been brewing seriously for about 3 years with all grain and dabbled with a few beer kits before that. “We wanted to replicate what was being done in craft breweries at home and also try and make unique beers that we dream up.”

Best home brew to date? A “black evil midnight” Hefeweizen. Be sure to ask them about the story behind that one if you see them in the lounge. Worst brew? A chocolate coconut porter that they’ve since tweaked after learning a lot from the first one!

What was the inspiration for this guest brew? “We love this beer, it’s a summer beer with a hoppy kick. It’s what we like to have on the patio after a brew day in the summer heat. The inspiration was the love of wheat IPAs and the love of watermelon on a hot summer day!”

The beer itself has quite a bit of hops for a wheat IPA. It’s also a little unique as it uses a substantial amount of caramel/crystal wheat which gives it more body and colour than a typical wheat IPA. “We really had to test a lot to get the watermelon to come through enough to taste it. Dry hopping it at the end gives it a nice floral essence that works perfect with the watermelon.”

For this 62 IBU, 6.5% ABV recipe, the guys started with an early addition of Bravo and followed up with Citra and Centennial as finishing hops. They also included a healthy dose of dry hopping with Cascade hops. The unique combination caramel wheat malt, hop character, and essence of watermelon make this beer a must-try!

We’ll be launching the Watermelon “Redwheat” IPA on Friday, August 7th. There are only 100L of this brew, so don’t wait too long! Vince and Julio will be around the lounge to enjoy their brew with others and chat about beer!

– Dan

Guest Tap Two – Roxy’s Turn On The Red Light Honey Red Ale

Our Guest Tap features rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

For our second Guest Tap, we will be pouring a Honey Red Ale brewed at Moody Ales by our very own Roxanne Cartwright. For those of you who have not been into our tasting room, Roxanne is the smiling face greeting you when you get here.  On top of serving all of you fine folks your beers with a smile, Roxanne is an avid home brewer.

Roxanne has been homebrewing for about a year and a half and has brewed a number of styles, both from kit and all grain.  Always up for a challenge, Roxanne asked her guests visiting for Christmas what beer they would like her to make.  “They said, ‘Honey Red Ale’ so I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it!'”

So what are the best and worst beers Roxanne has made? She’s most happy with the way this Honey Red Ale turned out. “You’d think that the tin can of ‘Canadian Adventure Ale’ malt extract syrup that I bought from Superstore would be the worst batch of beer I’ve made.  But it sadly was not”.  Her worst brew was a failed attempt at a pumpkin ale which started with roasting way too much pumpkin and finished with a carboy full of a super thick pumpkin beer solution that had to be filtered through a sieve.  “I learned my lesson.  Not that I won’t keep experimenting…”

“To me this beer smells like honey and hops!” says Roxanne. “It’s a blend of American and Canadian ingredients and it falls somewhere between an Irish Red Ale that is malt-focused and an American Red Ale that is more hop-focused.  The malts used are Pale, Munich, Crystal, and Black Patent, which combine to give it a reddish-hue and moderate malt aroma and flavor.  The malts are complemented with American Cascade and Willamette hops which are brought out a lot in the flavor.  Of course there’s honey added and some flaked oats for head retention.”  We think it’s delicious and can’t wait for you all to try it!

 

Roxanne Bottling

Roxanne bottling a batch of her homebrew, we love the use of the cutting board as a bottling platform!

 

We’ll be launching Roxy’s Turn On The Red Light Honey Red Ale on Friday February 20th.  There is only 100L of this batch, so get in and try this awesome beer while you can!  Roxanne will be working in the tasting room so you can ask her all about the beer.  She’s a bit nervous to be serving her own recipe, so come out, support her and show her some love!

– Adam

Guest Tap Launch with Lemon Matcha Saison

Soon we will be launching our Guest Tap at Moody Ales. The Guest Tap will feature rotating brews from collaborators including local brewers (professional and homebrewers), cooks, vintners, distillers, or whoever has a beer recipe that intrigues us. The Guest Tap brews are small test batches available only at our tasting room, so once we announce them, you’ll have to hurry in to try them!

For our first Guest Tap, we will be pouring a Matcha (Green Tea) Saison brewed at Moody Ales by local homebrewer Steve Sheldon. Steve is a member of the Tri-Cities Brew Club with Moody Ales founders Dan and Adam, which is where Dan and Adam first tried this beer and asked Steve to come brew it.

Steve has been homebrewing for three years and has brewed over thirty batches. He has brewed a variety of styles, his favourite being a Cascadian Dark Ale. For the Matcha Saison he was inspired by the earthy bitterness of the tea and thought it would pair well with a saison. According to Steve, “I figured a good dry saison would be good, as the funkiness of it would add to the earthy flavour of the tea.”

Steve’s first few attempts at pairing matcha with beer did not go smoothly (which is half the fun of homebrewing): “I did some initial experiments by adding matcha to Four Winds Saison bottles and after a rather humourous Tri-Cities Brew club meeting where I opened the beer with the powder in it, we all learned about nucleation in carbonated drinks (think Coke + Mentos).” Ultimately, Steve made a vodka matcha infusion to impart the tea flavour to his homebrew and for his Moody Ales brew, a simple hot water tea.

This traditional Belgian Saison is crisp with a moderately high level of carbonation, and finished dry giving it a wine-like mouthfeel, a little bit of funkiness in the aroma. Slightly spicy at first giving way to some hop bitterness before the earthiness of the matcha green tea, which leaves a slight lingering bitterness. Refreshing and unique.

We’ll be launching Steve’s Lemon Matcha Saison on Friday February 6th.  There is only 100L of this batch, so get in and try this awesome beer while you can!  I’m having a glass while I write this and it’s fantastic, nice job Steve – we may need to make a larger batch of this. Steve will be at the brewery to chat beer in the evening.

– Adam

International Gruit Day

February 1st is International Gruit day.  What a great excuse to experiment!

On Friday January 31st we’ll be pouring the result of our latest gruit experiment.  Our gruit will be served in tasters and glasses all weekend, or until we run out.  We have two versions of this tart, refreshing ale.  One is the result of our brew with no alterations, the other had an addition of tea made from hibiscus flowers added to it. Both are really tasty, but with only 50L of each, they won’t last long!

What is a gruit? Simply put, a gruit is a beer without any hops that uses other herbs and spices to balance the malt sugars and to flavour the beer.

Beer has not always been the delicious balance between hops and malt that we enjoy today.  Before hops were used in beer, a mix of spices and herbs were the brewer’s secret weapon to crafting a tasty ale.  Ingredients such as wormwood, bog myrtle, dandelion, juniper, yarrow and many other ingredients were used.  Imagine the myriad of awesome ales you could make with all of those flavours!

Having made a dark, smokey and savoury gruit in the past, we decided to try to make something that was lighter, somewhat citrusy that only used a small number of ingredients.  We feel that many gruits would have been tart or even sour due to the fact that they don’t contain hops and their associated antibacterial properties, I personally feel that gruits would have often been dark, smokey and savoury – of course we don’t know for sure.

After experimenting with Wormwood (wow, that is bitter!) we decided to use the following ingredients:

  • Mugwort
  • Dried Woodruff
  • Dried Elderflower

Finally after the beer was finished, we experimented with Hibiscus.  The hibiscus adds aroma, flavour and an amazing colour.

If you’d like to learn more about gruits, or maybe try making one of your own, checkout http://www.gruitale.com/

We hope; you enjoy the results of our experiment, we really had no idea how it would turn out which is what made it so much fun.

-Adam

The Great Grätzer – Oak Smoked Wheat Beer

I can’t remember exactly how we found out about this style of beer, but I do know that once I read about it I had to brew it.  This is a pretty common theme for me–just ask Dan.  I’ll read about a style or try a new kind of beer and inspiration hits!  I then spend hours and days obsessively researching and (if possible) tasting examples of the style and then hopefully find time to brew it!

Grätzer, or “Grodziskie” as the Polish call it, is traditionally brewed with only oak-smoked wheat malt and no barley. When we first brewed this beer on the homebrew scale, we wanted to be as authentic as possible to the traditional grain bill. This presented some difficulty since none of the local homebrew shops carried oak-smoked wheat malt and we weren’t prepared to order a pallet of the stuff since we only needed a few kilograms for a five-gallon batch.  Luckily our friends at Beyond the Grape were able to get us the grain from Weyermann, a malting house in Bamberg, Germany.  It was worth the wait.

Given that this style has not been produced commercially in Poland for over twenty years, there is some debate surrounding what this beer should actually taste like–is it hoppy? Is it smokey? What is the alcohol content? Is it soured?  We had no way of trying an actual bottle of a traditional Grodziskie to know for sure, so we chose what we thought was accurate based on our research: a highly hopped, pale, smokey beer.  We decided to brew ours to end up being about 5.5% alcohol, which arguably is a little higher than it would have been historically, but it was the winter.  Maybe when we do this closer to the summer we’ll reduce the ABV and make it a bit more sessionable.

We had no idea what to expect from this beer never having even tried a Grätzer–from what we can tell, no brewery in BC had made one before, and we couldn’t find any imported examples. We had also never used this base malt before, but hey, that’s half the fun!  We decided on three ingredients for the brew: 100% of the grain would be Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat, 100% of the hops would be German Saaz, and we would ferment with a German ale yeast. We lagered for a few weeks.  (A quick note: lager comes from the German word lagern which refers to storing something cold. Any beer can be lagered–lager does not mean a light coloured clear beer.)

When the beer was ready we were very happily surprised, not just by the fact that it was quite good, but also by the fact that many people who we didn’t expect to like it did!  We had a hoppy refreshing beer that was unapologetically smokey with some acidity and tartness.  Was it authentic and close to the original of this style?  We have no idea, but those five gallons did not last long and soon after we had sourced enough of the Weyermann product to produce a full batch in the brewery.

Some fun facts about the batch we are serving right now:

  • We used 550 kg of oak-smoked wheat malt special ordered from Germany.
  • There are nearly 44 pounds of hops in this batch.
  • Dan and the boys had an extremely long brew day for this beer: 22 hours!
  • This was the seventh batch we brewed on our brew house.

This is the first of what we hope will be many attempts at brewing historical beers.  It’s a lot of fun for us to explore the history of beer and brewing and hopefully it will be fun for all of you to try them!

Look out for a very limited run of 650 mL bottles of our Grätzer to be available in February.

Adam