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Grätzer and Adambier new to Brewers Association’s Beer Style Guidelines

New beer style guidelines issued by the Brewers Association take note of two once-extinct beer styles, Adambier and  Grätzer, which have been revived by American craft brewers. The trade group also made technical adjustments to the guidelines, often used in beer competitions.

Have you had a Grätzer lately?  How about an Adambier?

These hard-to-find beers are the newest additions to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association list of Beer Style Guildlines.

The 2013 guidelines, released March 4, define 142 styles of beer, up from 140 in 2012.  The first guidelines were issued in 1979.

The new additions, says Chris Swersey, the association’s technical brewing projects coordinator and competition manager, reflect feedback that the trade group received from brewers, beer competition judges and beer aficionados—and, to a large measure, Brewers Association founder and president Charlie Papazian, who has the final say on what’s in and what’s out. The 2013 version incorporates more than 100 suggestions from the U.S. and abroad.

Both Adambier and Grätzer are historic pre-Reinheitsgebot styles that are making a slow revival among U.S. and international brewers. Adambier and Grätzer are historically smoky ales, with the former thriving in and around Dortmund, Germany.

Grätzer, also indigenous to Poland, where it was known as grodziskie, is a sour wheat ale brewed with smoked malt. Until it was revived in the U.S. it had been a largely extinct style not made commercially since the 1990s. The guidelines note: “The distinctive character comes from at least 50 percent  oak wood smoked wheat malt with a percentage of barley malt optional. The overall balance is a balanced and sessionably low to medium assertively oak-smoky malt emphasized beer. It has a low to medium low hop bitterness; none or very low European noble hop flavor and aroma.”

“Last year, two Grätzers were entered at the Great American Beer Festival,” Swersey said, noting that craft brewers tend to be ahead of the association in terms of defining styles.

Label for Vlad the Inhaler, Blind Bat Brewery's grodziskie, a smoked wheat ale

Label for Vlad the Inhaler, Blind Bat Brewery’s grodziskie, a smoked wheat ale

On Long Island, Blind Bat Brewery, a nano brewery in Centerport, produces a smoky, lemony version in the Polish style that it calls Vlad the Inhaler.  It’s a hazy golden brew with a dense white head. But that’s where the similarity to a wheat beer ends.  Vlad’s nose is autumn leaves burning and on the palate the smokiness melds with a tart sour character.

Paul Dlugokencky, owner of Blind Bat, said, ?I’m glad the style is being officially recognized and getting some attention. I’ve been brewing the Grodziskie at least since 2008, and always have had to explain it to people. But, he added that he would’ve preferred that the style be called by the original Polish, Grodziskie, rather than the German Grätzer. “The Polish have at least this one beer style; the Germans have created enough on their own. The Poles created this style. The Germans moved in and appropriated it, along with everything else they took and renamed.”

Deschutes Brewery, of Bend, Ore., once brewed a Grätzer and Burnside Brewing Co. of Portland, Ore., offers Grätzer as a seasonal brew. Choc Beer Co. of Krebs, Okla., also brews a Grätzer.

In Germany, Weyermann Versuchsbrauerei, an experimental brewery in Bamberg, Bavaria, affiliated with the maltster, offers a limited-distribution Weyermann Polnisches Grätzer Bier.

And what’s an Adambier? According to the guidelines:  “It is originally a style from Dortmund.

Adambier is a strong, dark, hoppy, sour ale extensively aged in wood barrels.”

Label for Hair of the Dog Brewing's Adam.

Label for Hair of the Dog Brewing’s Adam.

There appears to be only one commercial example of an Adambier. That’s Adam, produced by Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. in Portland, Ore.,

Swersey says the interest among craft brewers worldwide in reviving old European styles may be just beginning. “It’s an intriguing proposition,” he says, noting that many brewers have no context with which to judge their beer—a situation reminiscent of the 1980’s and 1990s when brewers were introduced to never-before-heard of beer styles by the late Michael Jackson.

He noted that another emerging style, one not listed in the new guidelines, white India Pale Ale, is also in a way a throwback to the 1900s, when English brewers made IPAs with pale malts. He noted that Stone Brewing brewmaster Mitch Steele, who wrote the book on IPAs, will discuss historic IPA styles at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., later in March.

Other guideline changes include new advice about for American wheat ale, reflecting a growing trend in the craft brewing and homebrewing communities by which all-wheat grists are used in the brewing process.

The association’s new guidelines also focus on the descriptive text used to judge beers. The guidelines now focus first on appearance, aroma, flavor and finish, in that order. They also include vital statistics on each of the 142 styles including ranges for: original gravity/plato; apparent extract/final gravity; alcohol by weight/volume; bitterness and color.

“These guidelines are first and foremost an educational tool, but they also help to illustrate the United States’ role as a leading beer nation,” said Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association. “The Brewers Association toasts America’s small and independent brewers, including home brewing enthusiasts, who continue to push the evolution of style guidelines with their innovative brewing and ingredients.”


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