Grätzer is an old beer style from Poland using mainly oak-smoked wheat. The Gratzer style is now considered a sour ale. Grätzer is all but dead. Very few breweries around the world let alone Poland are brewing this kind of beer. Here comes New Belgium and 3 FLoyds breweries, respectively, to bring it back. Should this zombie ale have been brought back from the (almost) dead? Or are New Belgium and 3 Floyds doing us all a favor in bringing this to our taste buds?
Grätzer pours a pitch black body with a thick beautiful dirty, tan head. From a glance it could be confused with a stout, porter or even a quad. However, once you get your nose close enough you’ll start to get a clue of what is in store.
Sour! Yes, a decent sour scent hits you as you inch your nose closer to the brew. Not a terrible smell by any means at all, more like a very good sour candy would smell. Grätzer is very earthy and oaky as well – which I quite enjoy. Nothing like the smell of mother Earth. An almost burnt wheat flavor – which I would bet is from the oak smoked wheat. A very hidden hoppy scent was buried underneath the other aromas. You definitely had to reach for some to get them.
Once I got a feel for the look and smell of the brew, I wanted to dig in. I had tried this on draft a couple days prior at a YardHouse and was kinda underwhelmed. The smell from the bottle was immensely different so I was very hopeful this would be better batch.
At first taste I could instantly taste that my bottle had more flavors about. It definitely tasted much better (again, I think it was a bad keg). The feel as I took my first swig was very foamy and light. The beer, at appearance looks to be heavy or thick. Grätzer is actually quite drinkable. Like the smell, it has some earthy tones to the taste along with some subtle wheat flavors that blended nicely together. Malty flavors where definitely there, almost like a Malta or “kids beer” (Caribbean malt beverage, non-alcoholic) brewed very similarly to beer. Grätzer had a very subtle nuttiness to it that was near the aftertaste. The brew had a a sour after taste at the end which I felt got a bit more sour as I neared the end of my glass and bottle.
With all that being said, I don’t have much great nor bad things to say about Grätzer. I’m very neutral about it. Would I have one if I find one again? Sure. Would I go out of my way to find it again, probably not. I’m not sure if it’s just my palate not being used to this style if beer or if it’s just okay to me. Either way, I’m happy I got a chance to try this nearly dead beer style with its unique flavor and I do think some people will enjoy this more than I did.