Showing posts with label gratzer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gratzer. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Sense of Place

Terroir, as I sure many of you already know, is a term commonly used to describe the interaction between the geological, geographical and climatological aspects of a place and the agricultural produce that grows there. I have to admit that I am not convinced about the use of the term 'terroir' when it comes to beer, given that beer is more of an industrial product than an agricultural one.

Something that is evident though is that beer does have a sense of place. This sense of place has come into sharp relief recently with the Brewers Association announcement that Gr?tzer is now included in the style guidelines used for the Great American Beer Festival, and other competitions. I am not going to get into the wrongness of the defined guidelines, Ron has done a sterling work on that front already, but I have seen a few comments around the name of the beer.

Gr?tzer is the German name for a beer also known as Grodziskie Piwo, which is the Polish equivalent. As the town from which the beer sprang is in modern day Poland, Grodzisk Wielkopolski since you ask, quite why the German name was chosen is beyond me, perhaps the committee were intimidated by the Polish name? Either way the name means exactly the same in both languages, 'beer from Gr?tz/Grodzisk'.

Beer's sense of place comes not just from the climate, geography and geology of the place where the raw materials are grown, but from the people and place that convert raw materials into something drinkable, raw materials that have an infinitely small chance of becoming useful to a brewer through the course of nature (quite how chocolate malt would occur in nature is beyond me). As such, the historic beer styles which come with an appellation are mostly the products of urban life - Pilsner, Burton Ale, London Porter, K?lsch, even the new/old stlye of Adambier was once known as Dortmunder Altbier.

In defining the styles that are named for these urban centres of brewing excellence, I tend to think that the final word should always belong to the practices, ingredients and methods used in that place. Would a brewer from Grodzisk recognise the Brewers Association 'Gr?tzer' style as being something like that which was made in his town?

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