Travis Hochsprung is the brewer behind Polish Pils, a collaboration with Chicago’s Goldfinger Brewery and his first entry into our brewer-driven Intelligent Design series. We asked him about the beer and his journey to Surly.
Where are you from?
I grew up near Hutchinson, MN, moved to Minneapolis for school, and stayed here ever since.
When did you first get an interest in brewing?
My interest in beer started when I was a kid and saw beer everywhere at social events, and when any friends and family would get together. I figured anything that ubiquitous had to be important. My older brother and I got into craft beer and he would share all these exciting beers with me. We started home brewing together, and things progressed from there.
What brought you to Surly?
I previously worked for Beaver Island Brewing in St. Cloud. I love those guys, but the commute between Minneapolis and St. Cloud was brutal. A friend of mine at Surly encouraged me to apply for an open brewer position, and I was incredibly excited to get a job at a brewery I admired as a young home brewer and beer enthusiast.
How did you get connected with Goldfinger?
Tom, the owner and brewer at Goldfinger, and I graduated from the Siebel Academy (brewing school) together in 2017. We became good friends, and we both developed a great appreciation for European lagers during our time living in Munich while we were in school. Tom opened Goldfinger in 2020 and has been turning out amazing, old-world lagers, and so I found an excuse to brew a collab beer with him.
What is the story behind Polish Pils?
Both Tom and I have Polish ancestry, and we like working with Polish hop varieties – they aren’t commonly used in craft beer, but are really fantastic. We thought a Polish hop pilsner would taste and smell great, and the hops would set it apart from other craft lagers on the market. The hop varieties we used are Lubelski and Tomyski. Tomyski hops were at one point the most popular hop grown in Poland, but the hop plants were almost completely destroyed during WWII. They have just recently started to slowly come back into use. The barley we used is an heirloom variety sold by Rahr Malting called North Star Pils, which lends a strong malt flavor to the beer.
Any aromatic/flavor notes for the prospective drinker?
Polish pils is a very dry and bitter northern German style pilsner with bold but balanced herbal, floral, and lemony hop aromatics. It’s flavorful but still endlessly drinkable. I think it turned out great and I hope others enjoy drinking it as well.