You know, there’s a reason why the Germans have such an excellent reputation when it comes to the quality of their lagers. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say most of the world’s best lagers come from this part of the world. When the industrial revolution led to the development of paler barley malts it was the Germans who combined those malts with their method of lagering their beers. What resulted was a wide variety of lagers ranging from pale and delicate to dark and robust.
Hacker-Pschorr has been producing beer since the 15th century, In 1516 when the German Beer Purity Law was passed into law, Hacker-Pschorr adhered to that law. Today they still brew their beer using only malt, hops, water, and yeast. Today, Hacker-Pschorr boasts a commitment to local sporting and cultural organisations, part of which is their desire to produce quality products for local beer enthusiasts.
Munich Helles is a relatively young style of beer, at least when compared against other European styles such as porters, brown ales, and the German Rauchbier. According to an entry in the BJCP style guidelines, Munich Helles was invented by the sons of Gabriel Sedlemayer in Munich’s Spaten brewery. An article in All About Beer puts the development of this beer at 1894. For our purposes, maybe we can split the difference and call it the mid 1890s and move on.
Either way, this then new beer was developed in response to the pale pilsners and lagers sweeping through Europe at the time. It seems as though this new style of beer was a long time coming. You see, the English had been producing relatively pale malts since sometime in the 1700s and were using it to produce their pale ales and IPAs. In the 1830s Gabriel Sedlemayer visited England along with another brewer from Vienna. This trip sparked experimentation on the mainland that would lead to the production of pilsner, which would lead to the lagers we know and love today.
One such lager is the Munich Helles produced by Hacker-Pschorr which will be reviewed here today. Hacker-Pschorr is a pale, straw colored lager. Spritzy, almost champagne-like carbonation supports a fluffy, bone white head with decent retention. Aroma is very much an ode to pilsner malt. Aroma is grainy and sweet, with a roundness reminiscent of fresh baked bread. Finish gives a gentle hoppiness, haylike and slightly peppery.
Hacker-Pschorr is medium bodied with a gently mouth coating carbonation. Carbonation supports the same malt flavors found in the aroma. Flavor starts out grainy, moving towards a rounded center of fresh baked bread. Finish is clean and crisp with a slight, peppercorn hoppiness.
Overall, one of the better Helles styles of beer I’ve had. It’s smooth, tasty, well rounded, and finishes crisp and clean. Hacker-Pschorr puts its gentle pilsner malt on display and provides good balance and malt favors. And yet it’s a crisp, clean, refreshing lager, perfect for a hot summer day. This would be an excellent beer to pair with 8.3 out of 10.