Hop, hop hurray! Craft beer enthusiasts reignite town’s 100-year-old beer tradition
The red-brick chimney of the old brewery in Kluczbork is the only remnant of a once proud beer production industry, one which is being brought back to life again through the launch of the town’s first craft beer brewery.
Situated in Southern Poland in the Opole Voivodeship, in 1816, Kluczbork was the capital of the county.
Its good rail and road infrastructure quickly led to it becoming an important industrial city with several production plants towards the end of the century, including a printing house, metalworks, sugar and furniture factories and notably also a brewery.
The Kluczbork Brewery, which functioned between the turn of the 19th and middle of the 20th centuries until the end of WWII when the town was known as Kreuzberg, was well-known throughout Poland.
Local history enthusiast Kazimierz Stefańczyk said: “The Kluczbork brewery was famed for the quality of its beer.”
Now, 100 years after its first brewery opened and half a decade after it stopped production, beer enthusiast and home brewer Michał Rawski and pub owner Tomasz Kirsz have just opened Kluczbork’s first craft beer brewery, Miastolas (literally City Forest).
Rawski, 24, a former finalist of Poland’s nationwide competition for the best craft beer, is so passionate about beer that he even dedicated his Master’s thesis to an analysis of the beer market in Poland and the changes it’s undergoing.
He told TFN: “It [Miastolas] was a spontaneous idea. I had been brewing home beers for four years and it had always been a dream to set up my own brewery.
“I brought some of my beers to Tomasz Kirsz, who has several pubs in Kluczbork, with the idea of selling them in his pubs. At first he wasn’t interested, but over time, he started seeing potential and proposed a collaboration. In a few months, we set up a brewery.
“It costs millions to buy and set up your own physical brewery building, and it’s a long road, its our plan for the future, but at present we operate as a contracted brewery and we rent a brewery in Wroclaw to produce our beers and we have opened our own Urban Garden in Kluczbork, which exclusively sells them.”
The brewery, which is placing Kluczbork back on the brewing map of Poland and returning the town to its brewing traditions, debuted its first four beers on the 11th of June at the Urban Garden by Miastolas, a green space in the centre of Kluczbork.
“The combination of the city and forest in the brewery’s name is a reference to Kluczbork’s location, where the forest almost encroaches into the town is also part of a wider vision we have of wanting to promote ecological and green solutions and ways of living”, Rawski added.
And even the brewery’s beers have nature inspired names, including “Dancing Wolf”, “Loved up Fox”, “Owl on a Bike” and “Thirsty Beetle”.
Rawski hopes that Miastolas will also help to educate people in his region about craft beer.
“Knowledge about craft beers in our region is quite limited, it’s a bit of a craft beer desert in Kluczbork and the surrounding areas, people aren’t really familiar with craft beers.
“However awareness is slowly improving and we have had some people who drank our beers come to us and say they now can’t go back to anything different, so that’s a great success for us.”
Constantly on the lookout for inspirations and seeking to refine his recipes and studying the possibilities of using non-standard ingredients, the next step Rawski is planning is to release beers inspired by local products for which the region is best known.
But for now, the details of exactly what these are, remains a closely guarded secret.