The practice of brewing beer commercially in Poland can be traced back to more than a millennium. Poland presently happens to be the 3rd largest producer of beer, just trailing behind Germany and UK, distilling approximately 36.9 million hectoliters annually. Fermenting lager originally used to be a home-based or household business in the country, supervised and monitored by families.
However, with the passage of time, beer brewing transformed into a full-scale and independent industry where ale was produced on a large scale for the masses. When Poland regained independence after WWII, the new republic nationalized most of the existing industries, including the disorganized beer industry. In the latter decades, when communism crumbled, paving the way for the liberal market economy, the small and loosely scattered breweries were taken over by three of the largest brewing conglomerates-SABMiller Heineken, and Carlsberg.
Presently there are 160 breweries in the country, up from 97 in 2013, including contracted breweries and microbreweries. Lager beer of the light type is foremost on the list of most popular beers in Poland. In the following list, Poland’s top ten beers regarding consumption have been enumerated and elucidated.
Bracki Browar Zamkowy brewery located in Cieszyn produces Zywiec Porter one of Poland’s most sought beer brands. As you sip the beer slowly and steadily, your nostrils are overwhelmed with aromas of chocolate and licorice with robust hints of roasted malt, vanilla, and alcohol dominating afterward. This lager with a dark brown hue also feels mildly sweet on the tongue.
Throughout your drinking session, the chocolaty zest remains with mild traces of licorice and vanilla. The texture is creamy and full-bodied. Zywiec is best relished with sides of roasted almonds, locally preserved meats, fish fingers, salads, and so on.
Unmistakably and typically Polish, Tyskie is brewed in Tychy, a town in Upper Silesia tucked away in Southeast Poland. Tyskie has bagged multiple international awards which is one good reason why the brand is the most sought-after beer in the nation. The brewery which mass produces the ale for the market has been in operation since 1629, making it one of Europe’s oldest.
The beer has a lucid golden hue and has a mild fizz when you uncork a bottle. The flavors keep changing as you gulp down one glass after another. Initially, you sense a charming whiff with subtle citrus notes, bordering on stringency. Drinkers have discerned excessively sweet, and notes, when they started sipping that, gave way to a feeling of creaminess and made them quite tipsy.
This beer shares its name with the brewery established in 1845 and situated in Brzesko in Southeastern Poland. Okocim is not just another run-off-the-mill beer. This ale is brewed from a blend of malted barley, native hops, and water sourced from mineral springs in the Tatra Mountains.
Okocim is a pure Polish pilsner, in a class of its own, standing out from mass-produced beers. The potency varies from light to medium with an ABV content of 6.2%. The flavors reflect the Polish hops used for distilling the beverage with balanced nuances of spiciness and sweet malts.
Poles quaff several bottles of Okocim along with hot potatoes, roasted carp, and red beet soup in a single session.
Grodziskie in its heyday was known as the Polish equivalent of champagne, owing to its elevated carbonation levels. This ale is one of the most renowned of traditional Polish beers, brewed from wheat malt kept in oak containers through which smoke is circulated. The beer has a light and clear golden color with low alcohol content and effusing a typical smoky aroma and zest.
Grodziskie has a crispy and mild effect on the mouth and soothing on the palate.
Lwowek Jankes was first fermented by Browar Lwowek in 1209. So, this beer surely is amongst the classiest of Polish lagers. Ingredients used for concocting this beer include barley malt, Pilsen malt, wheat malt, Melanoidin malt, Caramel malt, five distinct American and Polish hops, and water. The ale has a somewhat coppery tint with a shade of light tan, due to the Melanoidin malt.
On sniffing, your nostrils will be hit with zests of hops; oak resin, tropical mangoes, and honey that’ll make you feel invigorated. Feelings of tipsiness settle slowly and gradually which you’ll surely take pleasure in.
If you have a weakness for smoked beers, then you’ll warm up to Ciechan Pszeniczne, a product of ‘Browary Regionalne Jakubiak’ in Ciechanów. Ciechan Pszeniczne is basically a wheat beer which is distilled using conventional brewing techniques where yeast is added for fermentation. Wheat harvested in Ciechan and natural yeast top are used for producing Pszeniczne which has a pale yellow color.
You can distinguish the strong and intense aromas of cereal bread tinged with understated notes of fruitiness and spiciness.
If you love experimenting with the local beer varieties when you’re visiting a foreign land, then the Kozlak bock beer should be on your must-sip list. Brewed by Bielkówek-based ‘Browar Amber’, Koźlak takes on a dark red to garnet hue when you pour the beverage in a Willibecher glass. The toffee and caramel essences invade your nostrils as you pick up Willibecher to take a sip.
On inhaling the aperitif a little intensely, you’ll be able to smell nuanced notes of raspberries, molasses, and chocolate. You can bet you won’t find a more nourishing and uplifting bock beer than the Amber Koźlak.
Ksiazece Czerwone lager assumes an amber-to-copper hue when transferred to a large shot glass with a bubbly froth at the top that titillates you to have a go at it. The beer tastes sweet when you take the first sip, and your tongue picks up tantalizing aromas of caramel and malt with seductive notes of strawberries and raspberries in the background. The finishing has a pleasantly mild whiff of hops. Of all the beer varieties brewed and marketed by Browar Ksiazecy (owned by Kompania Piwowarska), the Ksiazece Czerwone Lager is undoubtedly the best of the lot.
The perfectly balanced and full-bodied, dark Fortuna Komes Porter Baltycki bears testimony to the long-established brewing culture and tradition in the Baltic States. You get robust whiffs of malt, dark chocolate, and coffee on sniffing the lager. The sips satiate your mouth and tongue with hints of dark fruit, coffee, and chocolate. Browar Fortuna, located in Miloslaw is the brewer of Komes Porter.
You’ll simply relish a bottle of Lomza Export Miodowe, provided you can put up with the lager’s excessive sweetness. If you can get past the undue sugariness, you’ll be able to make out notes of herbs and honey. Distilled by Browar Lomza, Lomza Export has a lucid amber color, and its flavors are quite uplifting.