Since 2014, our Brewery of the Month, Browar Stu Mostów have been pursuing their dream of bringing Polish craft beer to a global stage.
Purposefully positioned in Wrocław, once a European brewing hub, founders Greg and Arletta Zieman have built a brewery with the intention of restoring Poland’s overlooked brewing heritage to the spotlight. Through their dedication to quality and passion for creative flair, Browar Stu Mostów have established a reputation as one of the leading lights of European craft brewing, and following a prolific and innovative year, it was a no-brainer to award them with the title of Breakthrough Brewery of the Year in our annual Brewies awards.
We caught up with both founders, along with Head Brewer Ben Gutierrez, about how Stu Mostów adapted to the changes forced by the pandemic, as well as what motivates the brewery and what we can look forward to seeing from them in the near future.
Last year was a difficult year for all breweries. How did you adapt to handle the challenges posed by the pandemic?
Grzegorz: “We felt an impact from the early days of the pandemic as our main channel of distribution was shut down instantly. On the flip-side, we learnt the true meaning of the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and quickly rediscovered a way to operate in the new environment. Our amazing team came up with many ideas, and now we operate in areas we didn’t think about before, like home-deliveries. As difficult as 2020 was, it wasn’t a bad year for us. We expanded our customer base, implemented new services and exported more than ever. At the same time, we launched our lab, began canning and developed barrel-ageing and mixed-fermentation programs. We’re proud of the team and what we’ve accomplished with a bit of creativity and flexibility and are feeling stronger than ever as we look forward to normality hopefully returning soon.”
We spoke in 2019 about inclusion in craft beer and Browar Stu Mostów’s role in helping to demystify beer. With International Women’s Day around the corner, do you think that the industry has become more inclusive?
Arletta: “We want our beers and the ideas behind them to make a contribution to discussions on respect, equality and shared responsibility for the shape of the world. This motivates our desire to continue to build the most beautiful bridges between people, cities and countries, as well as the past, present and future. I remember that interview, and I will repeat what I said then: I believe in working with passionate people who follow their principles and derive full satisfaction from their work, regardless of gender, religion or culture in which we grew up. To do this gives unimaginable power. We’re lucky to work in craft beer because I don`t know any other industry that is so open to cooperation and dialogue.
If you ask about how it is like to be a woman in the craft beer world, I would reply that craft beer gives me a sense of freedom; and encourages me to enjoy a simple life. I think the world would be a better place if we were all focused on what gives us 100% satisfaction. For me, it’s craft beer, and I find it sexy!”
We can’t wait to try your new collab series. How did this get started, and what’s the process for remotely collaborating with another brewery?
Ben: “We started the project at the end of 2020. A summer without travel to festivals was difficult for us as we missed the opportunity to meet our friends from around the beer world. We wanted to do something special to celebrate the start of a new year, where we’ll hopefully meet up again with the people we miss. In terms of the production process, each brewery was different. With some, we worked everything out over email. With others, we discussed things over video chats.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the collaboration beers? What should our customers expect?
Browar Stu Mostów x Verdant: New England IPA – 6.5% ABV
Ben: “In the case of Verdant, we went all out with a New England IPA that’s the result of combining our processes. It’s slightly less fruity than our typical IPA – but has the brilliant aroma of a freshly opened bag of Nelson Sauvin hops!”
Browar Stu Mostów x Bellwoods: Double Dry Hopped Sour IPA – 6.8% ABV
Ben: “I’ve always admired Bellwoods for brewing a variety of styles and have fond memories of the first time I drank ‘Jelly King’ at their Toronto brewery. This sour IPA pays tribute to that beer but is adapted to our kettle souring and dry-hopping process. It’s the limiest beer I’ve made — it tastes like fruit sorbet!”
Browar Stu Mostów x CRAK: DDH NEIPA with Coconut – 6.6% ABV
Ben: “When we spoke to CRAK we were clear that we wanted to brew an IPA with a twist. We considered using grapes, but it wasn’t the right time of year, so we decided to brew a super-fruity NEIPA and take it to the next level with the addition of coconut.”
Browar Stu Mostów x Other Half: DDH Double IPA – 7.7% ABV
Ben: “We really wanted to brew super-soft and juicy DIPA with Other Half, because well, who wouldn’t? For this beer we decided to use our favourite hops of 2020, opting for Strata and amazing Motueka from New Zealand’s Hop Revolution farm.”
Browar Stu Mostów x Whiplash: Old School Imperial Stout – 10% ABV
Ben: “After a chat with Whiplash’s Head Brewer, Alex, we were keen to go for something old-school. We settled on a classic imperial stout with roasted notes and no additives. I have a lot of respect for brewers who decide to depart from current trends, and this beer feels like an easy-drinking journey to craft beer’s past.”
Browar Stu Mostów x 3 Sons Brewing Co: Imperial Pastry Stout – 9.8% ABV
Ben: “The final beer, brewed with 3 Sons, was brewed with lots of cocoa beans, pecans and tonka beans. Cory taught us a lot about working with additives, especially nuts, which can be difficult. Thanks to this, we were able to get some really nice pecan pie-style notes and create a perfect dessert to follow the other beers in the pack.”
The ‘WRCLW’ range is an example of how heritage influences Browar Stu Mostów’s current output. How do you decide what to brew?
Arletta: “Wrocław has an 800-year brewing tradition, so we believe that beer is important to our national identity and that Wrocław and Lower Silesia have a special right to this legacy. In the past, the city was known as Little Bavaria, with a brewery on every corner of the street! Our brewery is prominent in Wrocław and the locals appreciate us not only for the beer but also for reviving a part of our city’s heritage. The WRCLW brand is a brewing tradition in new arrangements. An example of this is our WRCLW ‘Schöps’, which was once the most popular beer in our region. We recreated its recipe after 200 years of obscurity, and now we get to enjoy it once again.”
What inspired the WILD series of beers and are there any plans for more releases in the series soon?
Ben: “WILD’s inspiration lies both in and outside the beer world. This includes Belgian beers like saison and Lambic, as well as natural wine and ciders from my home, the Basque Country. Local produce also plays a huge part and we use only fresh, whole fruits, locally planted herbs, flowers and regional honey. Poland is one of the biggest fruit producers in Europe, with many of the beers from famous Belgian breweries using ingredients harvested in Poland, so we’re lucky at Browar Stu Mostów to have this on our doorstep. It’s early days, but the idea is to use 100% local grains, hops and yeast in the future. Time is also an important part of this project. WILD is an opportunity to slow down, a time for long fermentation, focusing on small things, and making detailed tasting notes. It’s like a meditative process, and is definitely different from the usual brewery pace!”
Coming up, we’ll start releasing our fruit beers from the 2020 harvest, focusing on beers brewed with different grapes and skins from our local Jadwiga Vineyard. We also have a beer/cider blend in the barrels created with the Basque cidery Zapiain. It’s likely that the first beer in the 2021 WILD series will be a beer aged in second fermentation bourbon barrels, inspired by the French ‘Biere de Garde’. It’s the perfect beer to transition from winter to spring — soft, malty, sweet, and full of fruit from our house blend of yeast and bacteria. I’m also looking forward to better landscaping the space in our keg room. Maybe we’ll get some artwork on the walls, stained glass, a good table for group tastings, and a comfy couch to relax on, just to make it a better space and being able to share it with more people.”
…Fingers crossed we can visit for a group tasting in the not too distant future! In the meantime, the collab series will be available exclusively from HonestBrew in the UK. Keep an eye out for announcements, and check out Browar Stu Mostów’s beers here.