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BREWERY FEATURE - Stara Zajezdnia... a modern brewery with a rich history.

Stara Zajezdnia Kraków - beerpubs.pl
 

BEERPUBS.pl recently met up with Romuald Kulesz and Mirek Robak, head brewers at Stara Zajezdnia brewery in Kazimierz. We got to take a look behind the scenes at what should be an essential destination for any beer fan.

 

The first thing that will strike an impression on any visitor will be the historical buildings that now host the brewery. Despite the name “Stara Zajezdnia” being difficult to pronounce for many tourists, the name actually translates very simply as "Old Depot" – and provides an obvious clue as to the history of the buildings. A tram depot was established here in 1913 and operated until the 1960s.

 

Stara Zajezdnia

 

The tracks are still evident in the courtyard outside, but unfortunately the trams finally disappeared from the buildings in the early 1960s. In 1985 the main hall was listed as a legally protected monument in the UNESCO World Heritage Site register. No longer being used for their original purpose, the premises served as a go-karting venue for many years, where a local boy named Robert Kubica developed his driving skills.

 

Stara Zajezdnia exterior - beerpubs.pl

 

 

In 2007 the buildings were closed, and were only re-opened after the extensive renovation and conversion to the brewery was completed. The newly restored buildings now boast a massive main hall, including an upper level complete with pool tables, separate restaurant outbuildings plus an open courtyard.

 

Aside from the buildings themselves, there is another very important attraction for the BEERPUBS team...Beer!

 

Stara Zajezdnia beers

Beers at different stages of fermentatiom and conditioning.

 

Once inside the main hall, the shiny copper mash tun and whirlpool vessels catch the eye behind what is the longest bar in Poland! The hi-tech brewing plant was sourced from the Czech Republic and can be operated manually or programmed to automate the brewing process.

 

Stara Zajezdnia mash tun

 

Romuald Kulesz – one of the head brewers at Stara Zajezdnia - explained that the vast array of multi-coloured buttons, displays and controls may seem daunting, but puts them in full control of the process.

 

Stara Zajezdnia brewing controls

 

Behind the bar, through large windows, visitors can view the fermentation and conditioning tanks where the fresh beer is matured prior to being dispensed directly, (with the use of nitrogen and carbon dioxide), to the bar via tanks located high up in the walls behind the bar.

 

Stara Zajezdnia windows to brew house

 

 

A traditional range of beers are produced including Pilsner, Ciemne, and Wheat, but also more exotic Honey and Ginger styles. The traditional beers are brewed to standard Czech recipes with imported Czech malt, but many ingredients are also sourced from Poland. Mirek Robak – also head brewer - was keen to emphasise the qualities of Polish Dark and Munich malts, and also the Lublin hops (in pellet format) are also used extensively.

 

Stara Zajezdnia malt

 

Anyone that has tried the beers here will also be familiar with the impressive head retention, a quality that Mirek attributes to the Carapils malt. In turn, natural honey added to the Honey beer comes of course from Polish beekeepers, while the lager yeast comes to Kraków from Brest.

 

 

The plant has a capacity to brew up to 1000 litres in one go, but conditioning times will vary depending on the style.

 

Stara Zajezdnia fermentation tanks

 

The whole process from brew to conditioning can take upto 5 weeks, so careful planning is required, especially with many large concerts and events taking place at different times throughout the busy calendar. Despite the pressures of brewing enough to meet demand, Romuald and Mirek also have occasion to develop new brews.

 

Stara Zajezdnia brewers

Head brewers - Mirek Robak (left) and Romuald Kulesz.

 

At the time of our visit a new Apple beer was close to being launched and a Marzen style beer is in the pipeline for the Summer season. With a growing range of styles to choose from, the only problem could be the drinkers capacity to try everything on offer. “Not a problem” declares Mirek, showing me the many bottles on hand to allow beer fans “to take away real, fresh beer – just like we serve it in the bar”.

 

So what is the most popular beer in the range?

 

“Our Pilsner (Jasne) without doubt is our biggest selling beer – possibly accounting for up to 70% on average. Honey and Wheat represent about 20% with Ciemne about 10%”. However “it varies depending on the season and weather conditions” continues Mirek.

 

With the enormous courtyard outside being equipped with a new outside bar for Summer, it is easy to understand how drinkers tastes will be influenced by the hot weather.

 

Stara Zajezdnia

 

Romuald and Mirek are clearly very passionate about their work – but how did the 2 head brewers end up being responsible for the Stara Zajezdnia brewery?

 

“I started home brewing in Warsaw many years ago” explains Romuald, “and then moved to Krakow to take up my current position”. Mirek was also a keen home brewer, prior to graduating from the one of the Krakows technology universities. He is proud of his brewing qualification but appreciates he is fortunate to be able to fulfil his dream of being of commercial brewer at Stara Zajednia.

 

Stara Zajezdnia mash tun

 

Mirek enjoys the fact that he gets involved in the complete end to end process and explained that friends from university now working in national breweries simply do not the opportunity to manage all the separate stages of brewing as we do. “That is the fascinating part of our work” adds Romuald.

 

Stara Zajezdnia - beerpubs.pl

 

Romuald and Mirek also had the opportunity to undergo some final training at Spiż brewery in Katowice and Wrocław prior to brewing beers on site at Stara Zajezdnia. Their training at Spiż may have given rise to an unfortunate and incorrect rumour that Spiż was actually brewing beer for Stara Zajezdnia – a myth that Romuald and Mirek and only to happy to quash via a brewery tour!

 

Romuald and Mirek are clearly a fantastic team, producing high quality, unique, fresh beers for a discerning Krakow public and visitors alike. BEERPUBS would like to thank Romuald, Mirek and Marta for allowing us to visit and for a fantastic and interesting tour!

 

Tours can be arranged for groups by contacting the brewery.

 

 

 

Stara Zajezdnia - beerpubs.pl




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