Academic recreates medieval white beer using sediment from walls of Kraków Palace
An academic and beer enthusiast from Kraków has lovingly recreated a medieval white beer using historic sediment taken from basement walls at Kraków’s Lubomirski Palace.
Archaeologist, historian and certified beerophile Sławomir Dryja from the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, decided to bring the historic brew back to life after discovering only part of the original recipe had survived.
After digging through old documents and records he found that the missing ‘secret’ ingredient lay in the sediment in the walls of historic basements once used for beer fermentation.
He told TFN: “The places where we collected sediment were once breweries and places used for fermentation.
“In the process of open fermentation, widely used until recently, the yeast evaporates and settles on walls, where it can hibernate for hundreds of years, so we have strong reason to suspect that this yeast was the same one used for the production of beer at the time.”
Once he had familiarised himself with the medieval beer-making process, Dryja, who is a cofounder and member of the Polish Association of Home Beer Brewers and has a certificate in beer-making from the Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague, set about making the beer himself.
The medieval process involved producing a wheat malt from soaked grains which began to sprout and were then dried and ground.
The ground malt was then poured with water, filtered, boiled before the hops were added.
According to the medieval method of processing hops, breweries in Kraków first roasted the hops on a slow flame. After this, the malt was cooled and yeast added.
Dryja said: “It turned out to be quite specific, only a little different to the contemporary beers we know. Light in weight and colour and wheat flavoured. Perfect for summer.”
The Pontifical University of John Paul II in Kraków, who is the owner of the patent and trademark for the beer’s name, said in a statement: “The traditions of brewing white beer in Kraków date as far back as the 13th century, however with the beginning of the 19th century, it completely disappeared.
“Thanks to the commitment of several people, including academics from the Agricultural University of Kraków, we will soon be able to discover its taste.
“It will more closely resemble the classic taste of a Pilsner and will have beautiful white foam, which will be one of its main characteristics.
“And of course it will have a unique colour, which is referenced in the name. It isn’t completely white, but very light and clear.”
Christened “Kraków White Beer” or “Cerevisia Alba Cracoviensis”, Dryja has now teamed up with artisan brewery “U Pana Pukala” (At Mr Pukala’s) in Kraków’s Kazimierz district, the site of a former brewery, to help him produce the beer.
The first barrels will appear in April and May and Dryja says they will be 90 percent faithful to the medieval original.