“What do YOU drink?”
This is one of the more frequently asked questions that I get to answer as a beer expert. I suspect that the reason people ask this question is that they assume that my beverage of choice will be something obscure that they haven’t heard of; something so far underground and so cutting edge that it might not even be available to the public at large. Either that, or that my beer of choice will be something rare and hard to track down.
The truth is that beers like that have their place, but they tend to make for relatively poor everyday choices. What I really look for is a beer that is complex enough that you can think about its positive qualities if you’ve a mind to, but not so assertive that it forces you to do that.
Recently, the beer that has fit the bill is Hofbrau Munchen Original.
It’s a style of beer called Munich Helles, and as you might imagine, it comes with all the trappings of Bavarian brewing history. The beer hall from which it takes its name was founded in 1589 and has seen its share of heroes and rogues pass through since that time. Mozart claimed to have written an opera as a result of his visits there. They didn’t have Munich Helles when he was there. The style of beer didn’t exist until about the beginning of the 20th century. It pours a brilliant gold with a fluffy white head that dissipates relatively quickly. The aroma is clean cereal barley and noble hops that alternates between floral and herbal and very slightly metallic. For me, the highlight is the progression of the beer on the palate, which starts with the same barley malt character and a big round mouthfeel and proceeds through to a bitter sting in the tail.
Progression of flavour is hard to create, meaning that this beer is deceptively complex. At 5.1%, it’s also thirst quenching and extremely well-balanced.
Also beguiling is the glassware. Beer experts, myself included, will tell you that different glasses allow you to perceive different aromas. Though it may not be ideal in terms of conveying sensory information, there is little more cheerful than the sight of an outsize dimpled glass stein brimming with a refreshing, quaffable beer. The stein has a significant heft which suggests a kind of permanence and the idea that there is almost certainly more beer in the back somewhere. Hofbrau Munchen Original is designed for a sunny beer garden, a group of likeminded revelers and a schnitzel the size of your head. The purpose of beer is really sociability. This one happens to be delicious while fulfilling that function.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. This week he’s answering the other question he gets asked a lot.