May 28, 2018
It was already the second gala during which the best beers taking part in the Good Beer Academy were awarded diplomas and medals. Radio journalist Marek Obszarny conducted the event with his usual wit and eloquence and Rector Tadeusz Trziszka stressed, while welcoming the guests, that the postgraduate brewing studies were created at the best Biotechnology and Food Science faculty in Poland. Professor Joanna Kawa-Rygielska (head of WUELS brewing technology postgraduate studies) talked about the studies themselves, excellent cooperation with brewing practitioners, and Polish beer revolution.
At first, the “beer” subject was introduced by Professor Jan Miodek, who approached it, of course, from the linguistic standpoint, describing the etymology of the word “piwo”, its word-building richness and its use in phrases and idiomatic language.
The first Polish postgraduate brewing studies introduced at the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, as well as the Good Beer Academy Competition are an effect of a so-called beer revolution in Poland and changes brought about by it. The year 2011 marked its beginning and the last seven years saw an expansion of craft and restaurant breweries producing their own beers. It is estimated that in 2016, 800 new beers were launched. Next year the number grew to 1500. The number of beers and beer styles offered to consumers is stunning, especially if one remembers the situation on the market 10 or 20 years ago. It is, therefore, not surprising that an idea was born at the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences to create postgraduate studies on brewing technology. And cooperation with best practitioners in the industry proved to be the key to success. – We give our students both theoretical and practical knowledge of malting and brewing technology and we teach them everything we think is essential in this field. Our schedule includes also such classes as: brewing workshops, instrumental and sensory analysis, law and economy in brewing, organization and operation of a small brewery, quality management systems in a brewery, beer marketing, equipment and design of a small brewery. It is important to us that a graduate will not only know how to make beer and all the technology behind it but also all aspects of the process – e.g. regulations and legal requirements. That is why the classes are taught by scholars and practitioners – experts in technology, instrumental and sensory analysis, design, economy and law – explained Professor Rygielska-Kawa before the first competition of Good Beer Academy, emphasising that a natural decision after creating the studies was to build a platform for testing one’s own skills and comparing them with other brewers and breweries.
Over 80 beers entered this year’s competition and were judged by a jury chaired by Rafał Kowalczyk, an expert on sensory evaluation of beer who has, for over a decade, been a judge in international contests such as: World Beer Cup in the USA, Great American Beer Festival in the USA, International Beer Cup in Japan or Brussels Beer Challenge in Belgium. Rafał Kowalczyk is also one of the organizers and jury chairman of national Golden Beer Poland competition (currently GoodBeer). Together with Maja Drab, Krzysztof Lechowski from the Polish Homebrewers Association (PSPD), Sebastian Baranowski, Mateusz Gulej and Rajmund Komosiński, the chairman of PSPD, they chose the best beers in the four categories of the Wrocław competition.
In the category of beers brewed at the workshops by students of the second postgraduate “Brewing Technology” course, the winner was Imperial Ale with Brettanomyces and juniper made by Michał Janiak, Piotr Jaskulski and Paweł Kaczmar. – We wanted to make an interesting beer. Somebody suggested a dark and strong one, someone else thought about wild yeast and then the idea of juniper came about. This beer was difficult, mainly due to filtration, but we succeeded. And now each of us has, of course, career plans connected with brewing – said Piotr Jaskulski.
Second category – beers brewed by students/graduates/employees of WUELS, was, for the second time, won by Tomasz Podeszwa, a graduate of the first “Brewing Technology” postgraduate course. The jury awarded his Specialty Smoked Beer “Smoked Baltic Porter”. – Baltic porter is a traditional Polish beer with the addition of smoked malts – explains Podeszwa, who brewed his beer at home but is professionally connected with the Wielka Wyspa brewery in Wrocław.
In the classic beer category made by breweries, the jury gave the first prize to the wheat Weissbier brewed by the inBrand brewery from Opole Lubelskie, for which it was its first in the brewery’s short history. It was collected by Michał Bukowski, the product manager, who has been setting up restaurant breweries since 2009 and inBrand is his youngest child. – I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the Polish beer revolution has already happened. The Polish market has changed and is now equal to the foreign ones which it once looked up to – said Bukowski.
In the last category – new-wave style beers brewed by breweries, the best one turned out to be the “Salamander Grapefriut and Mandarina DIPA” Double Ipa of the Browar Stu Mostów brewery from Wrocław. It’s a double hop beer brewed with addition of grapefruit and tangerine zest plus freshly squeezed fruit juice. The award was collected by Filip Dąbrowski, a WUELS graduate who, during his studies was a trainee at the Browar Stu Mostów and was later employed there, at first as a brewer’s assistant. Now, already with the university diploma in his pocket, he is a brewer. – This job requires passion, creativity but also responsibility. It’s not a nine-to-five job – beer ferments all day and night – explained Dąbrowski, emphasising that team management is equally important in brewing.
- The standard of the competition is very high. – said Rafał Kowalczyk, emphasising that the Academy of Good Beer does not only promote high quality but shows trends which shape the beer market in Poland.
The gala was enriched by a concert of Tomasz Wendt Trio – a band of the Frederic Music Award winner Tomasz Wendt, which was a laureate of one of the oldest Polish jazz festivals – Jazz nad Odrą.