Beer of the Week: The Gratzer Project Revives a Forgotten Brewing Style

Categories: Beer

American craft brewers draw inspiration from just about every world brewing tradition, and then sometimes re-create them in their own image with boatloads of hops, barrel-aging, or a momentary whim. Other times, brewers strive for strict historical re-recreations in an effort to place themselves in another time and place. In recent years, we've seen a domestic resurgence of many styles, including a few tart German brews -- notably Berlinerweisse and Gose. To that list, we can add another, even more obscure style: Gratzer.

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Gratzer is a fairly hoppy, slightly sour beer brewed with oak-smoked wheat. Yup, there's a lot going on there. When the folks at local homebrewing collective Brewlab took an interest in exploring the style, a couple of professional brewing operations stepped up to help, and The Gratzer Project was born. Jim Withee of local yeast company GigaYeast was able to isolate a viable yeast strain from a beer brewed by a "historical beer enthusiast" in Germany, and South Paw BBQ & Brewing volunteered to oak-smoke 200 pounds of wheat in its smoker.

The actual recipe was chosen by popular vote. A number of local homebrewers made their own Gratzer beers, and the Brewlab folks hosted an event where attendees could vote on their favorite of the 12 recipes. Thirsty Bear brewer Brenden Dobel agreed to brew 15 barrels of the winning Gratzer on their system, and the rest is history.

This week you'll have two opportunities to taste one of the first Gratzer beers ever brewed in the Bay Area (Rich Higgins brewed a coffee-infused version while at Social Kitchen. If you know of any others, please leave a comment!). Your opportunities to be a part of beer history, below:

Grätzer First Tapping
Thursday, 9/12, 5 p.m.
South Paw BBQ, 2170 Mission Street

Grätzer Release Party
Friday, 9/13, 5 p.m.
Thirsty Bear Brewing Co, 661 Howard Street

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