A sip of history
The history of brewing goes back to ancient times. The world’s first brewers were probably the Sumerians. Beer has been present on the territory of present-day Poland almost since time immemorial. The Anonymous Gall and Jan Długosz wrote about it in their chronicles. Historical sources say that there were up to 25 breweries in medieval Kraków! Brewing beer isn’t very complicated process, but it does require time and patience. The main ingredient in this popular drink is malt, which is specially prepared barley (the milled grains are poured over water and boiled). In addition to malt, we also need water, hops (more specifically its cones) and yeast, without which there would be no fermentation process. Various types of beer have been brewed in Małopolska over the centuries, the most characteristic being the light wheat beer and dark porter typical of old Galicia. Few people know that the preparation of beer also has a practical dimension. In the old days, access to clean drinking water was limited, which is why beer was consumed to hydrate the body well; it was considered a safe alternative to water. Beer was drunk both cold and hot. Hot beer was appreciated not only for its warming properties, but also its medicinal qualities.
From the history of Małopolska breweries
To this day, brewing traditions are still cultivated by many sites with rich roots. Brewing is often linked to the history of monasteries. Beer has been created behind monastery walls for centuries. The amber drink was brewed by the Benedictines in Tyniec and the Cistercians in Szczyrzyc. The Cistercians beer was first mentioned in 1628. Until the 19th century, the monks mainly produced a type of watery beer made from roasted barley, which they sold to local farmers during the summer. In 1824, a brewery was built next to the monastery on the farmland and began brewing beer, which is still produced here today. If you’re in the area, be sure to try the local speciality. The brewery in Tenczynek also has a long history. It was built in the mid-16th century. Over the years, the beer produced here has enjoyed great success. During World War II, the brewery was completely destroyed. After the war, beer production wasn’t resumed in the reconstructed building. The building itself passed from hand to hand. Beer brewing only started in modern times in 2015. Beer has also been produced in Grybów for years. The beginnings of brewing here date back to 1803. It’s interesting to note that the Grybów brewery isn’t located in the town itself, but in nearby Siołkowa. It’s also certain that it has had a very difficult history, passing from hand to hand, changing names, only to end up today in the hands of Czech owners who have been developing it under the Pilsweizer brand. The local beverages are well worth tasting. The brewery’s portfolio is very broad so for sure there’s something of interest for everyone. In Kraków, the first real brewery was established in the 1830s. It employed Jan Goetz, who left after some time to set up his own brewery in Okocim near Brzesko... In 1846, the first pale lager was brewed in Okocim, and in 1913, the brewery was already the largest in Poland. While in the area, we recommend visiting the Goetz Palace in Oświęcim. The carefully restored building combines the beauty of aristocratic traditions with a wealth of cultural and historical assets. This is one of the most beautiful residences from the turn of 19th and 20th centuries; it’s surrounded by a 16-hectare historic park. The brewery itself has lost some of its regional character following its takeover by the global conglomerate Carlsberg, which nevertheless makes strong reference to tradition when promoting the Okocim brand.
Małopolska kraft beers – the new face of brewing
Craft brewing is experiencing a renaissance today. Exceptional flavour and uniqueness are definitely wanted and sought. The old traditions of craft beer production in Kraków and the region are now continued by small beer manufactures, including Brokreacja, Piwojad, Browar Kazimierz, Browar Trzech Kumpli, Browar Podgórz. Iconic food establishments and restaurants are also brewing their own beers. These include CK Browar, Stara Zajezdnia, Browar Lubicz and Zadyma. One of the hallmarks of craft beer is its unique, proprietary recipe and composition. This type of beverage is made only from high-quality ingredients. Authentic recipes are usually created by passionate people who continue to improve their products. During your travels through the Małopolska region, you will easily find places where the taste and aroma of the amber beverage will give expression to the culinary traditions of the place and will go perfectly with local dishes.
Enjoy your tasteful journey and set off on the trail of local flavours, including those of the noble amber colour.