Make us your home page
Instagram

Bringing old brews back from the dead

At Rapp Brewing Company in Seminole, old-style brews such as Roggenbier, Berliner Weiss and Gose are poured, along with many other styles of craft beer, some of them award-winning.

Janet K. Keeler | Times

At Rapp Brewing Company in Seminole, old-style brews such as Roggenbier, Berliner Weiss and Gose are poured, along with many other styles of craft beer, some of them award-winning.

If one of the more prominent trends in craft brewing proves to have some staying power, then the future of beer lies in its past.

Last month, the Brewer's Association, the pre-eminent organization of American craft brewers, released its 2013 beer style guidelines, an industry-standard guide used to define, categorize and judge the seemingly endless varieties of beer. This year, two new beers were added, bringing the total number of unique styles recognized by the association from 140 to 142.

You might assume that these new styles are modern creations, the result of myriad tweaks and hybridizations developed within the craft-brewing scene. You'd be pretty far off. The two new styles — Adambier, a pre-Reinheitsgebot strong ale originating from Dortmund; and Gratzer, an 18th century Polish beer made from smoked wheat malt — are archaic styles brought back from the brink of extinction primarily by homebrewers and small American breweries.

This fascination with archaic and obscure beers is not entirely new. Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery has long been known for its resurrection of extinct beers, sometimes reproduced through means as obscure as scraping residue from ancient pottery found in tombs and cultivating new yeast strains with DNA that closely matches historic versions (e.g., Birra Etrusca). Even Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Co., known for brewing traditional styles, is collaborating with Ohio's Market Garden Brewery to bring back a nearly-extinct 19th century English beer called Kennett Ale.

Anyone who's been paying attention to such trends has no doubt noticed the rise in popularity of Berliner Weiss among beer enthusiasts; there's even a movement to establish a new take on this traditional German style cultivated right here in the Sunshine State: Florida Weiss. And Gose, a style once as rare as they come, has become a staple in small brewery tap rooms across the country.

Seminole's Rapp Brewing Company may be the local epicenter for this kind of retro experimentation. Even before his tasting room opened last year, brewery founder Greg Rapp was pouring his takes on Berliner Weiss, Gose, Roggenbier and Lichtenhainer at local beer festivals. His version of a classic Gratzer was on the tasting-room menu a full month before the Brewer's Association announced its addition to this year's style guidelines.

Rapp's original Gratzer was a small beer with big flavor. At a diminutive 3 percent alcohol by volume, it was characterized by a sharp smokiness and extremely light body. If you stopped by the tasting room a few weeks ago, you probably noticed a new addition to the draft list: BA Gratzer, a new version brewed to the 2013 Brewer's Association specifications.

Rapp's BA Gratzer is a little smoother and less smoky than the earlier version, and at 4.7 percent ABV, it's also a touch stronger. Although some may be put off by its still-prominent smokiness, it's a very drinkable beer, and I would be surprised if it didn't become part of Rapp's regular rotation. For now, it's probably the only example of this style that you'll be able to find just about anywhere.

With a search of beer check-in app Untappd's database yielding just over a dozen commercial examples of Gratzer currently brewed worldwide, it's unclear whether or not this particular style will catch on with the masses.

Other styles, like the aforementioned Gose, have been surprisingly successful in a short period of time, And with the release of this year's Brewer's Association guidelines, it's likely a matter of time before Adambier — which currently only has one commercial example listed on Untappd — starts popping up on tap list menus across the country.

While I doubt this newfound infatuation with endangered styles amongst craft brewers will change that, it may very well be that right now, old is the new new.

Justin Grant can be reached at jg@saintbeat.com.

Bringing old brews back from the dead 04/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 4:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 30

    Events

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: Celebrity appearances today include Wallace Shawn (Princess Bride) and all are welcome to join the cosplay parade at 11:30 a.m. It runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. $30, 12 and younger free. (813) 274-8511;

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 29

    Events

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention's biggest crowd is expected today. Celebrity appearances include actors Kate Beckinsale, Rose McGowan and Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens. Doors open at 8 a.m. Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. $30-$40; 12 and younger free. (813) …

    Kate Beckinsale is appearing this weekend at Tampa Bay Comic Con. Miramax Film Corp (2009)
  3. Want to audition for Howl-O-Scream? Here's how.

    Florida

    How would you like a job that has you running all night, dodging punches and earning high marks from your boss if you make someone wet their pants?

    Lindsay Weppelman, a University of South Florida biomedical science student, plays a Zombie Bride in one of Busch Gardens' open-air scare zones at Howl-O-Scream 2016.  Photo courtesy of Busch Gardens.
  4. Tampa Bay Comic Con: Live blog, and 5 things to know before heading there

    Events

    Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, expected to attract more than 55,000 like-minded nerds mingling with cosplayers, celebrities, artists and sellers of comic books and collectibles.

    Surrounded by the bridesmaids dressed as Disney princesses and groomsmen dressed as Marvel superheroes, Gwen Walter of Venice, Fla., kisses her husband, Shawn Walter, also of Venice, after their wedding ceremony on day two of the 2016 Tampa Bay Comic Con in the Tampa Convention Center on August 6, 2016. The pair got engaged at Megacon 2015 and were married wearing "Nightmare Before Christmas"-themed costumes. Two different couples were married in Room 24 on the second day of the Tampa Bay Comic Con 2016. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times