Browar Witnica - Boss Beer
- ABV: 8.1%
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass or Flute
This brew is a European-style Strong Lager, a style which is essentially a much bigger, fuller version of more typical light-colored lagers. Alcohol levels are much higher than the typical lager, as well. Poorly made versions can remind one of jet fuel, with fusel alcohol notes popping out and biting the palate with each sip. Like Black Boss Porter, Witnica's version is much better comported. Pouring a crystal clear copper color, Boss Beer's noble hops offer up prominent grassy aromas with a powerful and distinctly herbal, almost minty, edge. Pale malts offer a mild crackery underpinning, while the alcohol is not readily apparent. As we would expect, on the palate the malts are hugely amped up compared to typical pilsners and other light lagers. Look for strong notes of honey to accompany the increased sweetness. As on the nose, the hops present a big grassy-herbal character and enough bitterness to provide some balance. We found the alcohol to be extremely well hidden, almost magically so, although it's undoubtedly merging with the hops to contribute some balancing bite. The warming effect on the drinker, however, is obvious after a short while, making this a great beer for cold weather, football, and brats off the grill with spicy mustard or sauerkraut. Cheers!
The province of Lubusz has a long brewing tradition, which is not surprising considering its proximity to Germany, a country for which brewing is practically a way of life. Brewing in the town of Witnica (which originally was just a tiny village known as Vitz) is documented as far back as the 14th century when Cistercian monks came to the area and brought their expertise in brewing with them. It was in 1848, however, than the current brewery came in to existence. Originally, the property’s owner, Ernst Ferdinand Handke, merely leased the property to an existing brewing company, but by 1856 he had taken it over himself. Operating under the name Stern Brau, the brewery expanded throughout the latter half of the 1800s, becoming, at the time, one of the most modern small breweries in the region.
In the aftermath of WWII, the brewery was nationalized by the new communist Polish state, and was run by the regional Agricultural Combine. With the fall of central planning and the transition to a market economy in the early 1990s, a new chapter in the brewery’s history began to unfold. In 1992, the brewery regained its independence, transitioning into an employee-owned company and then into a stock company in 1995. The brewery was expanded and modernized throughout the 90s and into the 2000s, including the addition of a new natural gas boiler and waste water treatment plant.
Celebrating its 165th anniversary this year, Browar Witnica remains a small, regional brewery, only producing about 60,000 barrels a year. In addition to the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Poznan, Jelenia Gora, and Szczecin, the brewery has been exporting limited quantities of their beer for the last decade to Germany, Austria, Sweden, and the USA, for which we give them a big “Thank You!!”
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