Pomorskie: Poland’s brewing stronghold
Lager, Porter, Pilsner, Ale, Stout. Bitter, fruity, dark, pale. Made by corporations or small, local companies… Beer. Created with passion and respect to brewing traditions, with a slightly modern note. History has it that Pomorskie has always been one of the most “beery” regions in Poland, and it remains it also today.
Since the medieval times, People of Pomorskie are known for their love of this exceptional, amber liquor. The largest centre of brewing industry in those days was Gdańsk. It should come as no surprise that a Brewers’ Guild, which formally brought together all people involved in beer production, was established in the city. Among its members was the famous astronomer, Johannes Hevelius, who invested the profits from beer sales in purchasing tools for observing the skies.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Gdańsk Main Town itself had more than 400 prosperous breweries. One of the reasons for constructing the famous Crane (Żuraw), one of the most iconic buildings in Gdańsk that towers over Motława river, was the transportation of beer barrels.
However, we must mention that the delicious Pomeranian barley malt beer was brewed also in Tczew, Malbork, Gniew, or Chojnice. As local breweries’ fame grew, they became known all across Europe. The “beer symbol” of Gdańsk, Jopen beer brewed in “mold caverns” , was exported to different parts of the Old Continent.
Local beer has been brewed in the region for many years, using the same, traditional method which allows to obtain more pronounced flavour of the beer. Pomeranian beer was named “the most opluent in the country” back in 1930.
Today, the local classic is being kept alive by Pomorski Browar Tradycyjny (Pomorskie Traditional Brewery), a contract brewery that co-operates with Browar Gościszewo (Gościszewo Brewery). Owners of Pomorskie Traditional Brewery have set themselves the goal of re-creating every famous style of beer brewed in Pomorskie in the past. One of the styles of beer is brewed under the watchful eye of Lucjan Iwanowicz, Gdańsk-based brewer who had been working in a brewery in the Gdańsk’s Wrzeszcz district, and was educated by top Polish and German brew masters of Gdańsk brewery. He says: “I used to brew ‘Gdańskie’, and now I brew ‘Staro Gdańskie’ (Old Gdańsk Beer)”. It’s worth noting that Pomeranian beer is on the list of Traditional Products of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Gościszewo brewery was one of the first in Poland to introduce unfiltered beer. Weizen style beer, produced using orange peel, has exceptional flavour, aroma, and a group of dedicated fans. The brewery itself was founded in 1991 and has become an intrinsic part of the “beer map” of Pomorskie.
Another popular local brewery is Amber. It is a family-run business, located in Bielkówko near Gdańsk. Beers from this brewery, such as Koźlak or Złote Lwy (Golden Lions), produced using source waters from the brewery’s own well are the flag products of this company.
Local, craft breweries are also beginning to gain popularity in Pomorskie. These include Ale Browar and Browar Brodacz.
Also restaurants and hotels are becoming more and more keen on promoting the amber liquor, hence expansion of microbreweries. Browar Miejski Sopot (Sopot City Brewery) continues rich tradition of brewing in the city of Sopot. Brovarnia, on the other hand, part of Hotel Gdańsk, brings back flavours from the past of this harbour city, also offering limited versions and twists, such as smoked or chocolate beers.
Browar Piwna (Piwna Brewery) on the other hand offers classics, such as Pils and traditional wheat beer. Stary Browar Kościerzyna (Kościerzyna Old Brewery), which is an obligatory part of any trip to Kaszuby, lures beer aficionados with unfiltered and unpasteurised, fully natural flavour of the amber nectar.
Local brewing tradition neatly mixes with modern high culture of beer consumption. Microbreweries or multi-tap pubs are full of beer aficionados. Many of them attempt to brew beer on their own, and others – fascinated by the trade – want to personally learn from brewers.
Although there was a time when brewer seemed to become an extinct profession, we are observing a revival in the industry. Many breweries organise guided tours and workshops for people interested in learning tricks of the trade. Bookings need to be made in advance, as the queues are quite long.