Style: Helles Lager
Weihenstephan claim to be the oldest brewery in the world, with some disputed documents dating the brewery to 1040 AD. It is completely owned by the Bavarian government and based in Freising, just north of Munich. Helles or hell is a traditional German pale lager beer, with the word hell translated as “bright”, “light”, or “pale”. Helles has a less pronounced hop flavour than Pilsner beers, and is usually bittered with traditional German hops such as Hallertau. I’ve said it occasionally, but Weihenstephan are in my top 3 breweries of all time. I have never had a bad beer from them, and so I had to have one of their products in this celebration tasting. Furthermore, I picked the Helles because I wanted something a bit lighter to start the tasting with and as I expected, it was excellent.
This was light golden in colour with a thin head and light carbonation. A fresh, clean aroma of cracker, light malts and hints of grass greeted the senses upon smelling, and it was quite frankly delightful. The sweet biscuit notes balanced well with the grassy hops in the background upon tasting. It was well carbonated, with small bubbles that danced on the tongue, and the medium body was consistent with the style. The aftertaste was again light but extremely palatable.
It can be easy for lagers to be overlooked sometimes and maybe seen as less exciting than juicy NEIPA or big imperial stouts. It is also much harder to hide faults in lagers, as the light taste can’t hide problems as well as other styles. This though, was for me the perfect example of the Helles style. Clean, crisp and delightful, Weihenstephan again prove why they are one of the best breweries in the world.