Exactly three months after having brewed variations of Grodziskie style beers, four teams – each composed of professional brewers, home brewers and beer bloggers, met yet again to see who did the best job. This was the second edition of Viking Brewmaster Challenge competition, an event that introduced new format to the Polish brewing scene, accompanied by strong positive emotions.
Grodziskie is the only traditional beer style created in Poland and it has many fans among craft brewers who helped to revive the style. Knowing how they like to experiment on a small scale, we asked them to brew a variation within the style which would still maintain its basic characteristics, mainly refreshing character and drinkability. Also the malt base was supposed to stay the same – wheat malt smoked over oak wood. The quality of the Viking Malt product was also confirmed in many other beer competitions, where beers brewed with our malts obtained very high scores.
After all-day brewing at annual Hop Gathering in September, everyone was very curious to see the results. One of the beers had 24 Plato (while 7,8 is more typical for the style), another was deep-blue thanks to the addition of a specific herb. In result the beer appeared blue in a thin glass, but red in a thick one. The third beer had significant fruit addition and the last team made two versions of the grodziskie, hoping to decide together an hour before the finale, which one should be put on tap. One was with brettanomyces addition and the other with apple juice.
Jury composed of the teams and sponsor representatives had a hard nut to crack while comparing the beers. The decision was also hard for the audience who voted for the best beer as well. And – as we soon discovered – both the jury and the event audience’s votes placed the beers on the podium in the exact same order! Forth place was for the beer with fruits that was very harsh and got strongly infected by Brettanomyces, the 3rd place was for the beer with high balling that didn’t ferment fully. Blue-foamed grodziskie got the 2nd place, and the winner was the beer with apple juice addition that – despite lacking the clarity because of the pectin – had the best style resemblance and was very drinkable.
The winning beer will be brewed on a mass scale in a commercial brewery, and the income from sales will be given to the former brewer of the Jan Olbracht Brewery who had a serious bike accident a few months ago.