It has been known since the Medieval times, and its true master was Johannes Hevelius, a famous Gdańsk-based astronomer. In reality, it was a thick syrup prepared according to strict laws. It was used not only as a drink, but also an ointment, remedy, and an additive to soups and sauces. Jopenbier, the former symbol of Gdańsk across entire Europe. Although it is not produced anymore, there are manny connections visible around the city to this great, amber beverage. One of them is Browar Piwna brewery.
Piwna Street is located in the Main City in Gdańsk. You can feel the atmosphere of former brewing tradition linger in the air. The tradition that dates back to the Medieval times, and the first brewers’ guild in the city that controlled the quality and quantity of locally manufactured beer. The tradition that mentions more than 400 breweries operation within the city in the beginning of the XVI century.
– We wanted to refer to the brewing tradition of the city – say Aleksandra and Tomasz Rzepniccy, owners of Browar Piwna in Gdańsk. – We are brewers by passion, and we would like to spread beer culture, and combine it with delicious food – they add.
Piwna Street (Beer Street), formerly known as Jopengasse, is a place where traditional, local jopen beer was manufactured. The entire process was quite unique, because it took at least 10 hours (other beers were brewed, which means boiled, around three hours), and for 100 litres of beer, an astonishing 800 grammes of hops were used.
– Unlike ordinary beer, jopen beer needed to be chilled very quickly. For this, brewers used… frost – says Tomasz Rzepnicki. – Therefore, jopen beer could be produced only in winter months, as only a solid below zero temperaturę guaranteed fast chilling of a beer barrel. To provide a really quick way to evaporate the hot brew, it was poured into large, flat vats. Then, the beer was fermented. And again, this process was unique: the beer could undergo fermentation in a cellar or, even better, in an especially erected sched. Jopen beer that was ready to undergo fermentation process was poured into special barrels equipped with small gutters running along the circumference, as turbulent fermentation in open tanks caused the contents to spill over. The spill-overs were thoroughly gathered and placed back inside the barrels, simply because such a complicated and time-consuming process didn’t allow for any leftovers. This stage of production process took up to nine weeks to complete. During this time, walls of any room in which the process was taking place became covered with thick layers of mold. Beer taken from these „mold caves” was filtered and the barrels were sealed, but the further process of a steady, very slow fermentation took another year to complete.
Today, Browar Piwna Brewery is famous for its many styles of beers that have their roots in many different parts of the world (among others, Belgium, the USA, the Czech Republic, Germany, or Great Britain). – Our regular offer always include two types of pils beer and a wheat beer – explain the owners. – The remaining one aims to present to our guests flavours and scents of numerous beer styles from all around the world. The kind of beer that is going to be served as the so-called „brewer’s fantasy” is determined mainly by the brewer, production capabilities – adjusted in order to maintain the highest possible quality – and guests’ preferences – he adds.
The building at Piwna 50/51, which is the location of the brewery, belonged in the XVII century to a family of doctors, the Schmidts. In its basement, there are 15 stainless steel tanks that were designed especially for Browar Piwna Brewery. Each tank can hold 800 litres of beer, which is pumped onto bar taps directly from them.
As the owners assure, Browar Piwna Brewery actively supports and promotes craft beers. Those who would like to dive deeper into the subject can take a tour of the brewery, learn about the production process, and ask brewers any questions they might have.