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The Journey of Grätzer

When the opportunity to collaborate with the largest Czech brewery arose a few months ago, we didn’t hesitate. The team from Pilsner Urquell Brewery approached us as part of their "Master Brewer's Choice" program with a proposal for cooperation involving all Czech monastery breweries: Břevnov Brewery, Ossegg Brewery, Porta Coeli Brewery, Želiv Brewery and Strahov Brewery. We're excited to introduce this project to you in the following lines.


Historically, monasteries were the main centres of education, also serving as accommodation for pilgrims, travellers, and visitors. Thanks to monks who dedicated themselves to studying books and transcribing them, much information about monasteries and their operations has been preserved, including various interesting facts about monastery breweries. From a brewery standpoint, we were interested in the historical facts regarding smoked malt, wood, and herbs once commonly used. We agreed that these ingredients would be the main connecting elements of the beers. Therefore, we have decided that each brewery will brew beer incorporating at least one of these ingredients.


Did you know that before the year 1900, all beers had a more or less smoky taste and aroma? The reason is that until then, malt was roasted over an open fire, thus exposed to fire and smoke. With the development of technologies, malt was dried using only hot air, giving beers a new character. Today, in Bamberg, the capital of smoked beers, the most famous smoked malt is produced, made from barley and dried over strong beechwood smoke. This malt imparts a very intense malty and smoky aroma to the beer with hints of vanilla and honey. At Strahov Brewery, we particularly enjoy using this malt. For example, we annually brew the Whisky Wood Aged Smoked Porter, where we combine smoked malt and oak wood enhanced with single malt whisky.

It goes without saying that wooden barrels played a crucial role in beer history, as they were used for ageing, storing, and transportation of beer. The barrels were pitched in order to minimise wood flavour and leakage. Nowadays, brewers are returning to using wood, but for a different purpose. The wooden barrel no longer serves solely as a container; the main goal is to extract flavour and aroma from the wood. Many types of oak wood are used for barrel ageing, but chestnut, cedar, locust, pine, and other trees can also be used. However, oak wood has the best properties in terms of flexibility and water resistance, which is the reason why it was also used in shipbuilding. Today, wooden chips, most commonly oak, are used to simulate ageing in the barrel, imparting woody flavour very quickly due to their shape.

Another important element associated with monasteries are herbs and crops grown in adjacent gardens. For example, we found that saffron, grapevines, hops, and citrus fruits were historically cultivated here at Strahov. Therefore, we decided to combine these flavours.

Before we examine the results of our work in the brewery, we want to thank the Pilsner Urquell team for inviting us to visit Velké Popovice Brewery, where Pilsner Urquell Brewery brews smaller batches of beer, such as Master Brewer's Choice.

(Picture of representatives from Břevnov Brewery, Ossegg Brewery, Porta Coeli Brewery, Želiv Brewery, Pilsner Urquell Brewery and Strahov Brewery)

Pilgrim Grätzer

We were searching for a beer style that could utilise the crops typical of Strahov monastery gardens: saffron, grapevines, hops, and citrus fruits. Using smoked malt is one of our favourite things at Strahov Brewery, so we went with the Grätzer/Grodziskie beer style, a wheat, top-fermented, light, smoked beer. Piwo Grodziskie (known as Grätzer in German) was mainly produced in the 14th and 15th centuries and was nicknamed "Polish Champagne" due to its pronounced effervescence. We modernized this historical style and added Cryo hops Nelson Sauvin and saffron to the recipe, alongside 85% smoked wheat malt. The hops utilized offer discernible hints of Sauvignon blanc and citrus profiles. The result is a smoky, highly carbonated, light beer that combines the oak flavour of smoked wheat malt with hints of white wine and a touch of saffron. From March 7, 2024, it will be available on tap. Come and taste it!

The Journey is the Destination

Become a pilgrim and embark on a journey to discover beers with a touch of history. Whether you decide to visit us at Strahov or one of the monastery breweries, we hope you will enjoy our unique collaboration or at least learn something new along the way. We also cordially invite you to a beer festival to be held on April 27, 2024, at Břevnov Monastery. During the event, you will have the opportunity to sample beers from all the breweries involved in the collaboration. Cheers!


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