- Container: 16.9 Oz. Bottle
- ABV: 4.5%
- Style: Munich Helles Lager
- Brewer: Schlenkerla Pub Brewery
- Ratebeer: 3.4 of 5
- Beer Advocate: 4 of 5
- Untapped: 3.5 of 5
- LUDB Notes:
- Bitterness Level: Low
- Would I purchase again? Yes
- Would I stock it? No
- Comments: Unique smoked aroma and flavor; low bitterness
My journey through German beers continues as I try Munich Helles Lagers. Wow! I picked out Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier and it turned out to be very unique! Advanced warning: if you are looking for something “plain Jane” or along the lines of a Double IPA; THIS IS NOT THE BEER FOR YOU! For the adventurous among us, this is a great choice.
I have read about smoke beer; but have never tried one. Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier is a traditional Munich Helles Lager, but with an interesting twist. For comparison sakes I tried this one at the same time with a Hacker Pschorr Muncher Gold. It pours a pale, straw yellow with a very slight haze (most Munich Helles Lagers are clear, pale yellow). It features a massive, white meringue looking head that persists for a good while. Instantly, the smoked aroma hits you. Frankly, it pretty much overwhelms all the other aromas, except for maybe those who have a very keen sense of smell. It has a restrained, but noticeable bitterness at the start and finish. In between is the expected bready, sweet malts flavor of a Munich Helles. That being said, the smokey flavor dominates throughout and lingers into the aftertaste. Another unanticipated characteristic is that it finishes on the sweet side – not dry.
The Schlenkerla Brewery, located in Bramberg, Germany, traces its roots back to the 14th century where the building was a monastery. As we know, monasteries where essential to the perseverance of beer making over the centuries. The brewery itself was founded in 1678. It derives its name from Andreas Graser, who became the owner in 1877. He reportedly was slightly handicapped and moved his arms in a strange way when he walked. In the dialect at the time, this motion was referred to as “schlenkern” and the towns people eventually began to refer to the brewery as such. You can read more about it here.
Like many old world inventions, smoked beer came about out of necessity. In these regions, due to the climate, it was necessary to dry the green malts over an open fire. This imparted the smokey flavor in the grains used in the brewing process. Fortunately, the Schlenkern Brewery preserved this process as a tradition over the decades and we still have it today.
Bottomline: Schlenkerla Helles Lager is a very unique beer. While it is not something I would keep in the refrigerator, it is something that you can pull out to impress your beer drinking buddies when it’s time to introduce something new and different.
Thanks, and until next time, Let Us Drink Beer!