In the 1500s a law was passed in Bavaria called the Reinheitsgebot. You may know it better as the German Purity Law. It’s essentially a decree that states that all beer will contain only water, hops, barley and yeast. It has stood the Germans well in many ways; this is the country that many of us turn to when we want a super clean and pure lager to quaff. That said, there are also those who believe it has stood in the way of German beer innovation, and, I guess this is true to a certain extent; we don’t necessarily think of German brewing as cutting edge.
But the meaning of cutting edge has changed in some ways in the current beer climate. Simple hops, barley and water doesn’t sound ground breaking but the notion of a Kiwi brewery making a Munich Helles is a little more exciting right? This wouldn’t have happened 15 years ago… It would have just been a lager, and the fact that a newish brewery is even making something as exotic sounding as a Munich Helles has got to be a good thing for brewing around the world and especially in New Zealand.
In this spirit of adventure, let's take a look at this Munich Helles (a cool fermented beer using lager yeast) and made by Bootleg Brewery from New Zealand.
A lovely amber colour in the glass and with a nose that could only be lager; subtle but with a mineral, bready, yeast-like hit backed up with some gentle hops. The palate is clean, crisp and thirst quenching but there’s some body there too (it’s 5.5% after all) with beautiful bitter hops on the finish that keep that feeling of clean flowing right to the end.
This is a super-drinkable beer that any purity law-abiding German would be proud of… and, for me, there’s two things to take away from this.
Cutting edge, in terms of experimentation, isn’t necessarily where beer is heading and a return to classical styles like the simple Helles seems likely when you consider that most fads and trends eventually turn full circle. Secondly, it’s fair to say that we live in exciting times when niche styles are now made all around the world and becoming more and more a part of local beer vernacular.