Stawski is certainly one of the best looking pale lagers we’ve seen in a while, pouring a crystal-clear, bright, pure golden color with a robust and fluffy white head that descends to a persistent collar. On the nose, the sweet smell of plenty of pale malt comes forth, overlaid with noble hop aromas lending floral, grassy, and very lightly citric notes, with a hint of straw. It opens on the palate with crackery pale malts, but a grassy hop note is apparent right away as well and continues through the finish. Look for some grainy and papery tones as well. Some residual sweetness adds a unique character, as many similar beers tend to offer a drier impression. Hop bitterness is subdued but provides a nice counterpoint to the light malt sweetness, and this brew remains fairly light in body with a moderate level of carbonation adding some softness. We found it an excellent match for some grilled burgers with cheddar and jalapenos. Na zdrowie!
A little more than 100 miles east of Krakow lies the small town of Rakszawa. The first records of a brewery in the town date to 1713, when the brewery – and the town itself – was owned by the Dornfels brothers. It is known that brewing continued non-stop through 1912, but after that point the records stop and no one seems to remember what happened to the old Rakszawa Brewery.
No matter, in 1989 the brewing tradition came back to Rakszawa with the establishment of Van Pur. At first just a beer cannery (the first canning line in Poland, in fact), the decision was made to establish a brewery shortly after the company began. After purchasing an old textile factory building, the Van Pur Brewery was constructed inside. The first year of operation, 1993, saw a total output of 64,000 hectoliters (hl). Production ramped up very quickly, however (to 547,000 hl less than 10 years later), as the brewery’s beers gained in popularity in Poland as well as around the world. In fact, so popular were Van Pur’s beers in the export market, that by just 1996, their brands were making up 70% of Poland’s total beer exports!
Thankfully, over the last 15 years the brewery has invested heavily, both in terms of money as well as human effort, into ensuring the highest quality. Their ultra-modern brewery features top-of-the-line Ziemann equipment brought in from Germany, including fermenting tanks and settling vats, as well as a sophisticated Quality Control Laboratory. Ingredients are similarly excellent, with hops sourced from Polish farmers in the Lubelszczyzna region to the north of Rakszawa and yeast imported from the superb Hefebank Weihenstephan (Weihenstephan Yeast Bank) in Bavaria.
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