Podcast Episode 174: Live Oak Turns Back the Clock with Historical Lagers and Smoked Beers

Dusan Kwiatkowski, head brewer at Austin lager stalwart Live Oak, shares the brewery’s philosophy and technical approach to historical styles such as their Pre-War Pils, Grodziskie, and more.

Jamie Bogner Feb 19, 2021 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 174: Live Oak Turns Back the Clock with Historical Lagers and Smoked Beers Primary Image

Photo: Joe Stange

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“If it’s a pain in the ass, we usually do it,” says Live Oak head brewer Dusan Kwiatkowski. Brewing the hard way has been a core tenet of the brewery since their start in the mid ’90s. While most breweries launched around the time focused on ales (to distinguish themselves from the “macro” beer of the time), Live Oak committed to craft lager from its earliest days. Its Czech-inspired pale lager, Pilz, has been one of their core beers for more than two decades.

Today, Live Oak maintains that focus by pushing lager even further, through the pre-Prohibition-style pils they call Pre-War Pils, and by brewing and advocating for Grodziskie, which they brew as a lager with oak-smoked malt from a small Czech maltster.

In this episode, Kwiatkowski discusses everything from the ways they’ve sourced ingredients for the Grodziskie to the process behind the cereal mash necessary with corn grits in the Pre-War Pils. Along the way, he discusses the impact of smoked malt in recipes, brewing Grodziskie as a lager rather than an ale, polishing pils so that it sparkles in the glass, spunding tanks for proper finishing, and more.

Live Oak is fond of referring to its Austin, Texas, location as “Bamberg on the Colorado,” referencing the German city’s reputation for smoked beer from breweries such as Schlenkerla and Spezial. While smoked beer is a niche in today’s wider beer world, Live Oak’s passion and focus on the approach are second to none.

This episode is brought to you by:

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This episode is brought to you by Rahr North Star Pils. A new base malt to set your compass by. Rahr North Star Pils is crafted for brewers looking for a domestic pilsner malt with low color and low modification. North Star Pils carries overtones of honey and sweet bread, supported by flavors and aromas of hay and nutty character. Suitable for any beer style, but particularly craft brewed versions of classic lagers. Let Rahr North Star Pils guide your craft by visiting bsgcraftbrewing.com, or contact us at 1.800.374.2739.

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“ABS Commercial is excited to be a part of today’s Podcast! ABS is a full brewery outfitter offering brewhouses, tanks, keg washers and small parts. As a part of ABS Commercials on going give back campaign, they will be giving away an ABS Keg Viking Keg Washer in June, so make sure to periodically check the ABS Commercial Facebook page to find out when the contest opens up and how you can enter to win a Keg Viking!"

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].