Live Oak Brewing Company

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Smoke Beer
Ranked #87
Ranked #37,324
3.65 | pDev: 17.53%
Live Oak Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Notes: Grodziskie resurrects the last indigenous Polish beer style to go extinct in the twentieth century. Originally borne out of necessity in the 11th century CE, to substantiate one's diet and offset lack of potable water for sustenance. Production ceased in Grodzisk in 1991. It is brewed using only oak-smoked wheat malt and assertively hopped like a pilsner. Even with a low ABV, the wheat malt delivers a full-bodied beer. The original Polish ale yeast strain ferments cold, alongside our lager yeast throughout lagering. Please enjoy this truly rare beer.
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 68
Photo of Harrison8
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a translucent straw color with a foamy two fingers of white. Aroma is smoke, peat, oak, and earthy, biscuity, nutty malts. Smoke is right out front, with that moist dankness of peat just behind. Flavor profile is smoke, peat, oak, herbal and spicy hops and bready, biscuity, nutty malts. Mouth feel has a filling effervescence that expands on the palate, smothering the tongue in smoke. It has a medium-thin consistency. Overall, heavy smoke and peat within this fuzzy lager makes for an intriguing drink.

Served in a 15.5oz Spiegalau tulip from a 12oz can.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.54/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance, Pale yellow, almost white body shows some chill haze and holds a rocky full finger head of bright white foam that lasts and laces.

Aroma: Mesquite, both the wood and smoke, almost to a band aid intensity, obscures any other aromas.

Taste: Mild, which is odd given the punchy nose. Some light grain notes, a tonic water mineral, and a really clean finish. The smokey notes in the nose get supported with a slightly sweet, but pretty balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium light body, medium low carbonation, a bit fizzy and frothy, finishes clean, drying.

Overall: All kinds of brewing skill going on here. 1) It's hard to do a smoked or wood beer, so easy to overwhelm any beer flavor, this doesn't 2) It's hard to make a light beer, both this light in color and body, the smoke gives some cover, but there's not much room to hide any flaws 3) It's hard to make a light beer that is interesting and enjoyable (at least to me) and this does it very well.
Kudos Live Oak, I'll be grabbing more of this, it makes a great lawn mower beer.

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Photo of CTHomer
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: crystal clear; pale gold in color; 2 finger finely pored white head that receded to a wispy cap; little lacing;

S: smoked ham;

T: smoked ham from start to finish; mild to moderate bitterness at the end;

M: light to medium bodied; highly carbonated; lightly dry finish;

O: nicely done;

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Photo of mothmanscott
3.87/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one a gift for my good friend Tim Flanders. Thanks brother. Pours an opaque medium straw producing 3+ fingers of finely bubbled, champagne/shaving cream like, lasting, white head that leaves thin, scattered rings, blotches and streaks of lace. Quite pretty really. Aroma is spartan: wheat, petite smoke, mineral and thin lemon drops. Taste is wheat, delicate smoke, Noble hop hints and a short-lived sour/tangy hint. Mouthfeel is light bodied with high carbonation, prickly throughout the sip, thin but smooth and remarkably creamy for such thin body. Lasting bitterness on the tongue. My first outing with the Grodzisk style. A delicate and different brew. I look forward to broader experience with the style

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3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz canned on 11-13-18
Huge rocky/meringue white head 1 3/4" with 1/4" above the rim of the glass and LONG retention. The beer itself is a pale yellow gold and opaque. Patchy thick lace.
Smells like smoke, mesquite smoke. One dimensional but not in a bad way, not overbearing.
Smoked malt, a quick tangy sour flash and some late hop bitterness (more of a feel than a flavor). Wheaty. Mild overall but pleasant. Will be a good match for grilled meat or bratwurst.
Creamy mouthfeel, medium carbonation. Mild bitterness. Between medium and full bodied.
This is a unique and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The von Trapp Kolsch entry gave the name to my Happy Loads of New (Mainly) Lager Beers Sunday (Week 718), but this one was a) the real impetus for the day. I have an affinity for Smoked Beers & when an A. Nony Mous CANQuest (tm) donor sent me one, I decided to make it the keystone of today's adventure. A look at the Notes section of this beer's entry also helps to explain today's title: "The original Polish ale yeast strain ferments cold, alongside our lager yeast throughout lagering." 8=O Forget Karl Jung, this is duality! It might have been an Altbier had they simply fermented the Ale yeast under Lager conditions, but the inclusion of Lager yeast makes it an Ale/Lager yeast hybrid, fermented under Lager conditions. I would LOVE to see this fermented under Ale conditions, just to give all of the little yeasties (thanks Kristin Diane Leonard) a chance to lead the dance. Boom!

From the CAN: "Austin's Original"; "Extraordinary Lagers & Ales craft-brewed in Austin, Texas since 1987 using traditional beer making methods inspired by old-world style beers"; "made in the shade"; "Na Zdrowie!"; "Grodzisk-style Smoked Beer".

I was met with an initial CANundrum - Was this my initial Grodziskie? The Pop!ping of my cherry to CANincide with a Crack! & Glug was enough to give me the vapors. Wait, I swear that I have had one of these before! Ah, yes. A New Belgium/FFF Lips of Faith collaboration called "Grätzer" that I drank following a buddy's burial at sea with fellow shipmates & did not review. The CANfusion comes from the Poles naming their city "Grodzisk" in the 15th century & the Germans renaming it "Gratz" in the 19th century. Same style, same city, two different names!

The Crack! presented me with another brimful craft CAN, but such was not going to deter me from a heavy-handed Glug. This created some massive foaming, resulting in some equally massive head. Like three-plus fingers' worth of dense, foamy, rocky, bone-white head with magnificent retention, leaving beautiful lacing in its wake as a reminder. Color was an oh-so-slightly hazy Straw-Yellow (SRM = > 2, < 4). Nose smelled like walking into S. Clyde Weaver's in East Petersburg and taking a deep breath! They are our local (Lancaster Co., PA) purveyors of sweet Lebanon Bologna & while neighboring Lebanon Co. has their own specialty purveyor, I swear by Weaver's. Walking in the door, you are hit with a wave of sweetish, dried, curing meats & this beer smelled EXACTLY like that! Drool. Mouthfeel was medium, but big for a Lager. The taste had a light sweetness to go along with a tanginess from the wheat and the meaty smokiness of the oak. 8=O It was not as intensely smoky as an Aecht Schlenkerla, but neither was it an import. This was made right here in the U.S. of A. which is pretty dang impressive! Even more impressive is that it seems to be one of the brewery's standards. Wow! This is a Smoked Beer for the curious and/or novices. It's smokiness sits at the low end of the spectrum, which is what many/most (?) prefer, but for me, it was kind of light. On the other hand, it's slight sourness from the wheat malt was a change of pace. Finish was dry and smoky, very refreshing. I am extremely thankful for the chance to drink and review this one!

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Photo of Smakawhat
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the can into a tulip glass.

Slightly opaque lemon body, with a real nice sudsy white head. Reaches 3 fingers and big shampoo bubbles.

Real simple and solid aroma. Hits with light smoke and soft wheat, with a touch of minerality.

Palate pretty much nicely flows from the nose. Simple smoke, hints a little woodsy, with not much touches of sourness. Light bodied palate, with more minerality in flavor. Touches of rocky notes also.

Pretty nice light smoked brew.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
3.4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

$ 9.53 (Including tax and discount)/six-pack of 12 oz cans ($ 0.132/oz) from Spec’s, DeZavala, San Antonio, TX. Reviewed 8/30/18.
Undated can, stored on the shelf in the store. Served 42 degrees in a hand washed and dried 16 oz glass coffee mug.
Appearance – 3.
Body – Light yellow, very slight haze, effervescent.
Head – Large (Maximum six cm, aggressive center pour), white, low density, excellent retention, diminishing to a cap of dense foam of irregular thickness.
Lacing – Poor. A few irregular islands remain.
First pour – Very light yellow, clear.
Aroma – 4 – Very light smoke and some fruitiness.
Flavor – 3 - Begins slightly sour with a touch of smoke. The middle is sour. It ends sour with some smokiness. No malted barley, no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide.
Palate – 3 – Medium, watery, lively carbonation.
Impression and interpretation – 3.5 - Looks good, smells good. I have had other examples of grodzisk-style smoked lagers and have not noticed the marked degree of off-putting sourness that is present in this one.

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Photo of Squire
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Slightly hazy light gold color with white cap and good lacing.

An aroma similar to lightly smoked herring. It's a clean scent yet discernible from the glass at arm's length.

Taste of fuller malt in a good way. Smoke is much less evident than in the scent and is well combined in the beer, which is to say it doesn't jump out and is rather restrained. Spicy hops are evident, particularly mid palate on with a modicum of oak wood smoke reappearing at the finish. Unusual, rather nice and refreshing.

Medium full texture leaning toward full with balancing carbonation.

I can see why this brew is well received in it's home market. It actually should make a good match with complementary style foods. Makes me wish I had some New York deli style smoked Whitefish or Sable on hand along with some water crackers. Or fresh rye bread.

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Photo of puck1225
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a can into a tulip glass.

Hazy pale yellow color with a very nice white head and good lacing. Distinct Smokey smell and taste. Pleasantly rustic and good with chicken soup!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-draught @ Live Oak for $5 USD. 3.00% ABV.

Low B / GOOD

05/19/18 can:

Neutral up front, finishing smokey but not harsh. A pleasant smoked beer and a more mild alternative to aggressive German rauchbiere.

More solid fare from Live Oak.

High B- / WORTHY

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Photo of DoubleABaird
3.94/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live Oak Grodziskie

Straw colored with a bright white head and brilliant clarity. Head retention is good and clings to the glass almost an out after it was poured.

Tons of savory Oak smoke and herbal noble hop aromas. Clean fermentation.

Echos the aromas beat for beat. Subtle Oak smoke and herbal hops. Clean fermentation from the Polish yeast strain.

Medium-high carbonation with a medium-light body and the beer is fairly dry and crisp.

It really feels like I’m drinking a smoked Pilsner. Very nice. Flavors are there but they all play nice.

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Photo of Premo88
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

16 oz. on-tap poured into vertical tulip at Jester King on 5/14/2017

L: clear yellow, gold highlights, thin head of white foam, no stick/lace, loads of activity in the the glass creating a constant collar and 70-85% of a skin

S: buttery smoke ... very light smoke; as it warms, the butter takes over

T: light smoke, light peat, butter up front that grows midswallow; earthy smoke lingers in the aftertaste, at times getting a bit earthy bitter, possibly a bitter earthy bite from hops; smoke flavor tastes like it's from green beechwood

F: light, almost water, but super crispy and full from the carbonation ... works really well

O: a wildly interesting beer that I will have to revisit with a fresh palate; the butter notes seem a bit funky and are, I'm assuming, diacetyl, but in and around them there's lots of cool "lighter" smoke flavor; Live Oak uses oak wood to smoke the wheat malt, but the effect seems to create more beechwood flavor than most of the beech-smoked beers I've tried; the style is so obscure that it's hard to score, so I'll put down numbers as best I can for Round 1, but the upshot here is that I liked it a lot and enough that there definitely will be Round 2

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Live Oak "Grodziskie"
on tap @ Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden, Austin, TX

"Last indigenous Polish beer style. 100% wheat smoked with oak."

Appearance: Hazy, very light straw gold with a "white" cast if that's possible. Short head of bright white foam. Average head retention and lacing.

Aroma: Slightly sweet malt with soft smoke.

Flavor: As in the aroma, but more pronounced. Mildly earthy, spicy and subtly citrusy. Solidly bitter at its center. Dry finish. The smoke gently lingers.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and gently effervescent. Seems appropriate.

Overall: As I've never had this style, nor heard anything of it, I'll have to judge it hedonistically - and I like it! I'm not sure it's a beer I'd go back to beyond one (and I doubt I'd ever have three in a row), but I'd certainly try it again. If you enjoy smoked beer it's nice. It's neither overdone nor too light, and the malt, even though it's a small beer, still comes through.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.3/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

Looks like a banana smoothie with head. 4.25

Smells like fresh bananas, wood and smoke. Love the smoke. 4.25

Vegetal, earthy, woody, smoky, wheaty and touches of fruity. Don't love the vegetal aspect but love the smoke. 3

Bitter and vegetal over a light body. Smokiness is on point and aggressive but still takes a backseat to the bitterness. Doesn't drink refreshingly as should be the case. 2.25

Sampled first and loved what I tasted but it didn't carry well to a full pour. It was a task to drink this unfortunately.

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Photo of donspublic
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had to come back around on this one. It has been stuck on tap at my whole foods for a month +, it has set the record for the longest beer to be on tap there. I have watched more people try this beer and not enjoy it at all. Yesterday someone asked for their money back. Well I guess I am in the min. I have upped by rating because this has been a beer that I really like to start the evening off with. The taste is not for everyone, but if you enjoy smoking meat I think you can appreciate the effort.

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Photo of champ103
3.29/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Most recently on tap at Hay Merchant in Houston.

A: Pours a vibrant, cloudy yellow color. A two finger white head forms with excellent retention and lace. looks like a spot on Hefe.
S: Up front, all I get is buttery diacetyl. Some grains, and fruity esters come next. All that intermingles with a smoked meat aroma. Odd to say the least.
T: Again, big on the almost buttery popcorn flavor. Definite diacetyl going on here. Fruity esters, even a slight tart lemon flavor. Mixed with the strong and lingering smoked malt character.
M/D: A medium body that is crisp and effervescent. The smoked malt makes this kind of dirty. Even at the ridiculous low ABV, this is still a chore to drink. The yeast and smoke are at odds here.

I can very much appreciate what Live Oak tried to do. Though it did not hit with me. Maybe it was more the perceived diacetyl than the actual awkwardness of the style. Without the buttery note, I might really enjoy this. As is everything is odd at out of wake. Interesting style, interesting take, one of my favorite breweries, but just a miss.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

nobody ever makes these anymore, and thats too bad. this one is a lot better than others i have had, lacking that prepackaged hotdog bun thing so many seem to have. smoky though, almost to a fault, more so than most others ive had, and really lingering after the swallow and harshing up the feel a bit. maybe slowing down how many of them i can or want to drink in a sitting. light beer though, minimal body but still a lot of grain character from the smoked malt. hefe type yeast adds a balancing fruitiness, and the whole thing has a very earthen nature to it, clay and minerals and stuff seem to be at the heart of it, but that must all be a property of the exuberant smoke, which never really lets up. its not heavy at all, its real light, and the high carbonation is basically mandatory, but it feels almost meaty still. not a beer i want to slam, but i appreciate keeping the style alive, and its a nice take on it, from what little i do know about the grodziskie. these guys have a real good thing going!

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Photo of beeragent
4.25/5  rDev +16.4%

Poured a light, slightly hazy straw. Medium white head with light lace. Smelled strongly of smoked malts. Taste up front is the smoked malt, but not as strong as a traditional rauchbier, but still pronounced. Also more smooth than a rauchbier with the wheat characteristics coming through more in the finish. Good carbonation and clean finish. I know a lot of people would find this style unappealing, but if you're familiar with the style beforehand, you'll see that Live Oak has made a great example of the style. I would easily buy this in six packs or bombers if it were available!!

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Photo of kinupanda
1/5  rDev -72.6%

This is probably the first beer I have tried that has made me dry heave; thinking about it while writing this review is causing the same reaction. I had one sip that tasted like burnt melted butter, coating my mouth and triggering my gag reflex. I expect some smoked malt flavor, but that was completely muted... to me, the beer essentially looked and smelled like phenol. That was enough for me to pour this one. I usually stand by the quality of Live Oak's offerings, but to call this one a disappointment is an understatement. Even the bartenders at the establishment at which I tried this called said "we probably couldn't even give this away"... I have to agree.

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Grodziskie from Live Oak Brewing Company
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 68 ratings