In the Middle Ages, Świdnica beer was famous in Europe. They have revived it.

In medieval times, the beer from Świdnica was renowned across Europe and has been revived.

This dark, strong brew, aged in oak barrels, has been brought back to life in the oldest establishment in Lower Silesia, employing scarce sources from the era to recreate a beer that was once famous throughout half of Europe.

The resurrection of this medieval beer took place in Wrocław, Poland, marking the 750th anniversary of the Świdnicka Cellar – one of the oldest establishments in this part of Europe, which has been operational, albeit intermittently, since 1273. The celebration’s highlight was the reintroduction of the historic Świdnickie beer by Gniewomir Drewnicki, a brewer at the restaurant. The event was commemorated with a procession of townsfolk and aristocracy in period costumes, culminating in a ceremonial uncorking of the beer barrel and a salvo of historic firearms.

Drewnicki dispelled the myth that medieval and early modern beers were weak and cloudy. He explained that beers of varying strengths and clarity were brewed even in medieval times, and the lack of refrigeration technology didn’t hinder the export of Świdnickie beer over hundreds of kilometers, thanks to its high alcohol content and meticulous brewing hygiene practices mandated by guild regulations.

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Interestingly, the Świdnicka Cellar uses fresh barrels for aging, contrary to the modern practice of using barrels from solid spirits, which imparts a distinctive aroma to the beer. Fresh barrels allow tannins from the wood to seep into the beer, which is aged for about six months. Despite the attempt to reconstruct the Świdnickie beer, Drewnicki admits it’s only an approximation, with differences in water composition, barley, and yeast strains from the 15th century presenting significant challenges.

Świdnickie beer was not just a beverage but a symbol of the region’s cultural and historical heritage, competing with Wrocław as a European beer capital. Its history includes being a coveted gift that led to a significant conflict between Duke Henry VIII and the Wrocław city council, illustrating the beer’s importance in medieval social and political dynamics.
The anniversary celebration also saw the recreation of a historical beer glass, the “jeż” (German “Igel”), based on period drawings and surviving examples. This heavy, bulbous glass, crafted by local glassblower Marcin Zieliński, symbolizes the rich cultural tradition surrounding the Świdnickie beer.

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The revival of Świdnickie beer represents a culinary heritage shared across nationalities, embodying the essence of Mitteleuropa. It highlights the region’s diverse linguistic and ethnic history, with Świdnica being a multilingual, multiethnic city under the Kingdom of Bohemia at the time. The project not only brings back a taste of medieval Europe but also celebrates the region’s shared cultural and historical legacy.

Source: Newsweek Polska

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