Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Days of Polish Beer in Prague

Other than industrial juggernauts like Stella Artois and Heineken, imported beers are not often seen in the Czech lands, with very few brews arriving from across the border to the north. Some non-spectacular Polish beers have previously shown up in bottles. But this week, Pivovarský dum is holding the Days of Polish Beer, with four brews from Poland specially chosen and brought in by the Bractwo Piwne, in conjunction with SPP, their cousins in the European Beer Consumers Union.

At the introductory event yesterday afternoon, a cellar full of Czech beer fans got ask questions about Polish beer culture (including Grodziskie) and try the brews, most of which will be around for the rest of this week. Here’s what’s on tap.

From the family-run Browar Amber in Gdańsk:

Amber Żiwe (6.2%). This is an unfiltered golden special that is clear enough to appear filtered, originally brewed at 14.5° though light as a Czech 11° in body (and less colorful to boot). It’s got a slightly minty hop aroma and a pleasant maltiness. Overall, quite nice — and, typical of many Polish brews, stronger than you’d expect.

Amber Kozlák (6.5%). This is an amber bock with a malty nose and a beautiful clear amber color (pictured above). In the mouth there are raspberry and plum notes and a slightly tannic, leathery finish. Really very good — so good, in fact, that it appears to have sold out immediately.

From Browary Łódzkie in Łódź:

Łódzkie Mocne (7%). Brewed at 15°, this is a clear, pale gold, strong lager with a fluffy white head and little discernible hop aroma. Easy-drinking, and probably much lower in alcohol than is claimed.

Łódzkie Glob Premium (4.5%). A clear gold Pilsner-style brew with a slightly thin, American-lager-style body, and a semi-dry finish with very little bitterness.

Thus, two highly recommended brews, two easy drinkers — and some news about Polish beer culture that directly relates to beer in the Czech Republic and anywhere else in the world.

For example, in a parallel to the recent takeover of the Czech Republic’s four Drinks Union breweries by Heineken, Bractwo Piwne member Krzysztof Jóźwiak noted that Heineken originally purchased 11 breweries in Poland, though they only have seven now. Four were shuttered.

As for Grodziskie, the legendary smoked beer also known as Grätzer, I asked about the rumor that it might be poised for a comeback. No news, our Polish brethren said. If Grodziskie is going to return, at least three members of Bractwo Piwne haven’t heard about it. There are not even any homebrewers in Poland who make Grodziskie, if I understood correctly, as part of the problem is that no one produces Grodziskie-style smoked wheat malt anymore.

The members of Bractwo Piwne will be around town all this week, including heading to the Czech Beer Festival on Friday, the festival’s opening day. The remaining Polish beers on tap at Pivovarský klub, however, probably won’t even last that long. If you’re curious, try them now.


More on the Czech Beer Festival


30 Great Brews: The Czech Beer Festival Beer List


  1. Well, I woudn’t tell people to start running. I tried today Amber Żiwe and Łódzkie Mocne and they are really not worth the bother. Maybe the brew from Amber was slightly more interesting, but in both cases I didn’t notice much flavour or character. Mocne in fact tasted not very different than your regular desítka. Pity I missed Kozlák, though, on the other hand, they were tapping Pivovarský Dum’s majový kozlík again, which is reason enough to make your way there.

  2. Amber seem an interesting bunch. Time for a long-awaited return to Gdansk!

    Na zdrowie!

  3. I’ve never made it that far north, but Kozlák seems to be worth a trip. What other beers are worth seeing out in Poland?

  4. I’ve been to Gdansk and it’s a lovely town, really worth the trip. In fact, the whole North of Poland is lovely

  5. Shame about the Grodziskie. But don’t Weyermann’s produce a smoked wheat malt?

  6. Well, there doesn’t seem to be a smoked wheat listed on Weyermann’s webpage for special malt, nor on the page for wheat malt. In any case, my understanding from talking to the Poles here in Prague was that other smoked wheat malts are produced with the wrong kind of wood — beech instead of oak. Does that sound right?

  7. well, I think it depends on your decision what kind of wood you use for “smoking” the malt.

    I hope I am not wrong but Schlenkerla uses beech…

  8. I believe you’re right. Adam from Bractwo Piwne seemed to be saying that the malt for Grätzer should be smoked with oak (dąb / dub) not beech (buk).

  9. And Alaskan Brewery uses alder wood for their Smoked porter –

  10. Polish homebrewers brew Grodziskie (Graetzer). We have even homebrewing contest in Grodzisk (“Prawie jak Grodzisz”, this year will be second edition,, to brew beer the most similar to original Grodziskie. The judges are old employees of the brewery of Grodzisk.
    In fact mostly we don’t use smoked wheat malt, but wheat malt + smoked barley malt. Some homebrewers smoke wheat malt on their own, but the result is quite unpredictable.

    Producing Grodziskie in normal brewery it’s quite immposible in the nearest future. Even in brewpubs.

  11. That is absolutely awesome news.

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