Tonight I will be checking out a new entry in the Lips of Faith series from New Belgium Brewing, and it was brewed in collaboration with Three Floyds Brewing Company. Simply called New Belgium Gratzer, it is a smoked beer with 4.5% alcohol by volume. Grazter is a nearly extinct style from Poland, and while there is still a lot of debate about what it actually means to be a Gratzer (specifically as to whether it is a sour beer), its primary characteristic is the use of oak-smoked wheat malt. This version of a Gratzer does incorporate a bit of souring lactobacillus in part of its wort.
New Belgium Gratzer is a black bodied beer, with brown hues shining through only at the very tip of the bottom of the glass. A small but durable khaki colored head floats atop, with a fair amount of sticky lacing remaining behind.
Chocolate and wheat malts are the standout in the nose, with a hint of smoke in the background.
The smoke picks up a bit of strength in the taste, but remains an accent note to the lightly roasted dark malts, toasty, some bitterness from the roasted malts, neutral yeast, a hint of background sourness, with low hop bitterness and low leafy hop flavor closing things out. The mouth is medium-light bodied, with a touch of carbonic bite on the tongue.
The only other Gratzer that I can recall trying was a homebrewed version, so there isn’t a lot of familiarity with the style on my part. I have heard it pop up from time to time lately, as brewers continue to look for something new. New Belgium Gratzer probably won’t wind up being too many peoples’ all time favorite beer, but it is definitely worth a look due to its uniqueness.
New Belgium Gratzer : B
New Belgium Gratzer Specs
Hops: Target, Polish Lublin
Malts: Pale, Midnight Wheat, Oak-Smoked Wheat
Beer Reviews by Prof Sudz