Dark Gratzer – Fall Session Smoked Ale

The new 2015 BJCP style guidelines have been released and there are a lot of changes. IPAs have been broken out into lots of IPA subcategories (rye, white, black, etc.), wild/sour ales have their own categories, and, among lots of other changes, there’s a historic styles category that features several styles that I’ve never heard of. One of them is called Grodzitski, which is described as being a light, session ale that uses oak-smoked malts and is also fairly hoppy. The description sounded awesome, so I sought out to just wing it and try to make something similar even though I’ve never tasted it. The style guidelines describe it as a very lightly colored beer, but I decided to darken it up a bit thinking that would accommodate the smoke malts.

  • 5 lb US 2-row
  • 2 lb Cherrywood smoked malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Roasted Barley
  • 0.5 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb Victory malt
  • 0.5 oz Challenger hops (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Challenger hops (10 min)
  • WLP001 (new packaging)

// Mash 154 at 1.5 qt/lb for 50 min, raise to 168. Sparge to collect around 3 gallons. Boil 60 minutes. Chill to 100F with ice, added about 3/4 gal of filtered tap water to bring up to around 4 gallons at 85F. 60s pure O2, pitched yeast directly from package. Brewed 9/13/15. //

// Water: 1/4 tsp gypsum, 1/2 tsp CaCl2, 1/2 tsp chalk to mash.  90 ppm Calcium, 42 ppm sulphate, 62 ppm chloride. //

9/20/15  Airlock activity subsided – gravity at 1014. Nice smoky aroma and flavor with some chocolate malt coming through the most. Hops are a little much and are a little distracting in the finish. Moved to the fridge to crash cool for a few days before kegging.


This was an interesting experiment in creating a recipe purely based on a textual description. The beer was decent; very drinkable, but overall a little bit muddy in terms of the malt flavors. The smoke character is evident with the chocolate malt coming through in the finish, but the other malts don’t seem to play an important role. This would be better off with just the 2-row, the smoked malt, and a touch of a roasted malt for color and complexity. The hops’ aggressiveness faded over time and created a nice balance to what would have been an otherwise overly malty beer. Nice head retention (likely from the hops) with a decent amount of body for the low ABV.




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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Brown, Small Batch, Smoked, Stout / Porter

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