Choc Beer received a silver medal last month for its Signature Grätzer at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, in the category of Indigenous Beer, which awarded “uniquely local or regional” beer types.
Zach Prichard, owner of the Krebs-based Choc Beer, said Grätzer, a Polish-style wheat beer, was not being brewed anywhere in the world two decades ago.
“After World War II and the Cold War, production fell off,” Prichard said. “They weren’t even brewing it in Poland.”
Choc brewers were researching styles for their Signature line when they decided to resurrect the Grätzer. A brewer flew to Poland to meet with brewers who used to make it.
“We were excited, because he toured the old brewery and found frozen yeast that had once been used to make Grätzer,” Prichard said. “He brought it back with him, so the strain of yeast we used is the same that was used decades ago.”
The beer is unique for several reasons, most notably because oak is used to smoke the wheat kernels, giving the Grätzer a slightly smoky taste. It’s not overwhelming, however, and more smoke comes through on the nose than on the palate.
Prichard said the high carbonation accounts for the presence of more smoke on the nose. The mildness of the smoke on the palate is related to the size of the wheat kernel. Unlike barley, wheat is too small to absorb a large amount of smoke.
The Signature Grätzer is a very limited production beer. It is available at Broadway Wine Merchants, 824 N. Broadway.