Augustiner

Fundamentals #53 - Augustinerbräu München Lagerbier Hell

“Are you sure?” I ask Hop Burns & Black co-owner Jen Ferguson when she shoves a familiar bottle of one of Bavaria’s very best lagers, Augustiner Helles, into my hand.

The reason for my doubt is because, by and large, the beers I review in this column are completely new to me. Such is the never-ending slew of new releases these days that I’m rarely short of something fresh and exciting to try.

Not this time, however. Today I am reviewing the all-time classic, the stalwart, old man Augustiner. One of the greatest beers on earth. A beer I buy regularly such is both its excellence and its dependability. What this does gift me with is the rare opportunity to ruminate on this particular beer’s greatness. Augustiner Helles is not usually a beer I have to put much thought into enjoying. It’s a beer that fits into almost any occasion, be it a cold bottle in the confines of a darkened London bar, a sundrenched Munich biergarten or, wherever, really. There is rarely a time when this lager is not appropriate.

What is about this beer that gives it such majesty? Why do I find it so appealing, time after time? These are some of the questions whirring through my head as I slowly, yet firmly pour the beer into my glass, ensuring I knock enough carbon dioxide out of suspension to produce the firm head of foam this beer always deserves (trust me, it enhances the hop flavour and aroma.)

But quickly I remember this is not a beer to be analysed or overthought. Sure, I could go into detail about its supple, soft breadiness, and how these delicate malt flavours are balanced by the fresh, herbaceous snap of German noble hops, followed by the tiniest twinge of acidity before a wave of bitterness brings dryness to the back of your palate. But that would do this beer an injustice. Augustiner is not a beer to bear the burden of heavy thought. It’s a beer that commands a lack of thought, as you enjoy long, deep gulps in quick succession… followed by a crack and hiss as you inevitably begin to prise the cap off your next bottle.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag.

#HBBAdvent Beer 2: Augustiner Lagerbier Hell (Germany)

Augustiner says: A particularly mild, sparkling, long stored beer, refreshing and easily digestible at the same time. Uniquely in its taste, a benefit for each beer connoisseur.

We say: The name is hell but you're in beer heaven...

I've been advised that I can't describe it as "the king of beers" as that is copyright infringement, but without a doubt Augustiner is lager royalty. Our 5th best selling beer of 2017 - but always number one in my heart.

Pours golden straw with medium size white head, moderate hopped, floral notes. Lively carbonation.... Go to hell, Ratebeer. - Lewis

#HBBAdvent Beer 7: Thornbridge Lukas Helles Lager (Derbyshire)

Thornbridge says: Helles is a traditional, elegant Bavarian style of beer originating in Munich. Lukas is straw blonde, full-bodied yet sparklingly light. This Helles exudes a subtle, freshly baked bread maltiness, balanced with an elegant noble hop aroma. The finish is clean, crisp and satisfying.

We say: We’re lucky to host an informal weekly gathering of Bermondsey brewers at the shop, who routinely drink us out of Augustiner’s excellent Helles lager on their visits. When Ben from the Kernel told us to get Lukas on our radar, we took notice - this is a man who knows good beer. I'll crawl over 50 good pale ales just to get to one perfectly brewed Helles - lager snobbery has no place around here. A testament to no-nonsense expert brewing, this is closest you can get to Munich without leaving the country and, as Ben can attest to, the perfect Wednesday night drink. - Glenn

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Thornbridge Lukas in store or via our online shop.

HB&B Top Three: Lager, lager, lager

So here we are, in the height of our Great British Summer and how is everyone quenching their thirsts? Besides the abundance of funky, fruity sours flying off our shelves, we’ve never before had quite so many excellent lagers to choose from. From your classic Bavarian Helles to NZ pilsners, you can wave goodbye to watery, adjunct lagers… Here are our top three picks.

Orbit Nico Koln-style Lager 4.8%
Just off the Walworth Road in SE London, Orbit started out in 2014 and Nico, their modern take on the traditional beers of Cologne, is a permanent fixture on our shelves. It straddles a lager/ale definition because, although it undergoes the lagering process, it’s made with top-fermenting ale yeast, making this a light and crisp beer with more assertive aroma and robust taste than you might expect.

Thornbridge Lukas Helles Lager 4.2%
We were alerted to the greatness of this beer by The Kernel’s brew team. When they come to ours for post-work drinks, they usually bypass the big hoppy brews and head straight for a cold lager. Lukas, brewed in Derbyshire, is a fantastic example of a traditional Helles made outside of Germany. It’s subtly full-bodied, bready and malty, whilst being effervescently light and absolutely smashable on a sunny day, a rainy day or any given day.

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell 5.2%
Although no longer staffed by the Augustine monks that gave the brewery its name in the 14th Century, Augustiner Brau Munchen continues the tradition of making classically German beer. With its mild, malty sweetness and crisp, grassy flavour, this brilliantly clear and refreshing beer might just be one of the best lagers in the world…

As selected by HB&B Assistant Manager Catherine Lockhart

No More Heroes: drinking beer for mental health

Last night we got the chance to celebrate the craft beer world's underrated heroes with a fantastic event at ours hosted by beer writer Matthew Curtis of Total Ales.  

This event came about when both Matt and HB&B were approached by an agency offering us cash or a donation to a charity of our choice to tell them all we knew about craft beer. As it transpired, the agency was working for a multinational brewing corporation, so naturally we both said no - but we didn't want a charity to miss out on getting some much-needed funds, so No More Heroes: A Tutored Tasting of Beer's Great Unloved was born.

With 100% of the ticket sales going to the wonderful mental health charity Mind UK, as well as donations sourced via our JustGiving page, we've managed to raise more than £400 for Mind (much more than what the agency would have handed over!).

If you couldn't make it last night, here's the beer list you missed - wonderful beers matched with some of our favourite punk and post-punk tunes, and even some suggested spicy food matches to try out at home... Keep an eye out on Matt's blog too, where we're sure he'll do an even better round-up soon.

Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, 5.2%
Music Match: The Stranglers – No More Heroes
Spicy Food Match: Chicken Jalfrezi
To be fair, this isn't an unsung hero in our shop any more. We've turned so many people on to the joy of this classic Munich lager that it's always in our Top 10 best-selling beers. It's the lager or people who think they don't like lager. Clean, crisp, bready perfection, and a perfect partner for curry. Here's what Matt wrote about it for us in September.

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, 6&
Music Match: Modern English – I Melt With You
Spicy Food Match: Beef Chilli Con Carne
Possibly the best-loved beer of the night, judging by the number of takeaways sold afterwards. A beautiful milk stout that's so smooth and creamy as to be almost 'melty', says Matt - which is why he chose Modern English's killer tune to go alongside. A great match with chilli too - we'd drink it with AND throw it in the pot too.

Beavertown 8 Ball Rye IPA, 6.2%
Music Match: Magazine – Shot By Both Sides
Spicy Food Match: Pepperoni & Jalapeño Pizza
Matt says, "The fact that Gamma Ray and, to a lesser extent, Neck Oil, steals all of 8 Ball's limelight is criminal." Shot by both sides, you might say... "It might not have the in-your-face hop punch of its more popular cousin but it’s a wonderful beer all the same." We couldn't agree more. A Beavertown gem that deserves to be duly celebrated.

Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait, 8%
Music Match: The Runaways – Cherry Bomb
Spicy Food Match: Dark Chocolate with Chilli
A glorious sour from Belgium's much underrated Boon brewery (pronounced Burn apparently - who knew?). Here's Matt's marvellous account of discovering Belgian lambics and geuzes (and his visit to Boon) for Good Beer Hunting, Naturally we paired this with The Runaways. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB!

Renaissance Stone Cutter Scotch Ale, 7%
Music Match: Th’ Dudes, Bliss
Spicy Food Match: Steak & Cheese pie or a Pig & Hay scotch egg smothered in hot sauce
Renaissance is a terrific brewery from Marlborough, New Zealand, who don't tend to get the attention they deserve over here, overshadowed as they are by their more out-there NZ Beer Collective colleagues such as Yeastie Boys. However they're making some amazing brews, such as their fresh hop monsters Grandmaster Fresh Hop MPA and Black the RIPA. Stone Cutter is their flagship beer, a Scotch Ale that gets better and better with age. Matt recommends drinking it with that bastion of Kiwi cuisine, a steak and cheese pie. And we got to introduce London drinkers to the NZ beer-swilling student anthem that is Th' Dudes' Bliss!

New Belgium Le Terroir 2015
Music Match: Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi
Spicy Food Match: Chicken Tinga Tacos
Going out with a bang, our final beer of the night had been muled back from the US by Matt himself. The latest in the Lips of Faith series, Le Terroir 2015 is a delectable sour dry-hopped with Galaxy hops from New Belgium, a brewery we've been dying to try for the longest time. Here's Matt's account of visiting New Belgium. We paired it with Belgian's finest musical export, Plastic Bertrand, mais oui!

Matthew Curtis's Unsung Heroes #2: Augustiner Lagerbier Hell

I don’t want to put a downer on your day but it’s time we faced facts – summer is almost over. Chin up, there’s no need to be glum. I know the deluge of the last few days probably has you reaching into the back of your cupboard for darker beers but I’m confident we can still squeeze out a few more warm days and nights before autumn sets in good and proper.

In order to sustain the Great British Summer for as long as possible, I implore you to drink lots of lager. Yes, lager. I’m not talking about the mass produced, adjunct-laden lager you used to drink when you went clubbing in the late 90s though. There’s a brilliant lager revolution happening all around us. More and more brewers are discovering the beauty in the subtlety of the world’s most popular beer style.

Although some of the most popular brewers in the UK and US are having a crack at imitating the best German Helles and Czech Pilsners around, it’s important to never forget the classics. One of my favourites is the indomitable Lagerbier Hell from Munich’s Augustiner-Bräu.

When you pour this straw-pale beer, make sure you give yourself at least an inch of foam at the top of your glass. This will allow the beer to release its grassy, lemon pith aroma. When you taste it there’s an initial note of freshly baked white bread, which is soon snapped away by a rasping, herbal bitterness.

For me, this beer encapsulates summer. In fact I’d suggest if it’s still pouring with rain outside, that you pour yourself one of these, close your eyes and imagine you’re sat in a sun-drenched Bavarian beer garden, soaking up the last of the summer sun.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis.