A British beer as been crowned ‘Best Lager of the Year’ at this year’s Beer Awards
Let’s be honest for a second, as British people we’re pretty bad at a lot of stuff; our weather’s crap, our home nations do laughably bad at international sports tournaments – I’m looking at you Men’s senior England football team! – and the British pound as fallen faster than a sack of potatoes being chucked off of The Gherkin.
Which is why it comes as a pleasant surprise that this year’s ‘Beer of The Year’ has been awarded to British brewers Hofmeister Helles.
While Britain has a deep love for drinking culture – which can border on destructive at times – we aren’t exactly known for brewing the best homegrown lagers. Britain’s perennial mainstream beer Carling – while popular – is a grade below par compared to the likes of Peroni and Erdinger.
— Hofmeister Beer (@hofmeister_beer) October 19, 2017
So for a British beer company to stave off fierce competition and walk off with an award for both ‘5 Star Lager’ ‘Best Lager’ for 2017 is a grand achievement in itself.
Now before you start yipping and wooing about how this is the best of British, it has to be pointed out while Hofmeister Helles is a British owned company the beer is actually a German-style beer brewed in Bavaria. Just more proof that harmonious collaborations between nations is beneficial for all of us – so stick that in your pipe a smoke it Boris.
When UNILAD spoke to Spencer Chambers and Richard Longhurst, the founders of Hofmeister Helles, about how it felt to be voted both ‘Best lager’ and ‘Five Star Lager’ Longhurst said:
It’s such an enormous award, we’ve only really launched this year so it’s quite unbelievable. It was kind of a shock and a reality check. It’s an enormous feeling being so proud of what we’ve managed to achieve.
I think looking down the list we were up against a group rather of unbelievably good products. I think it just endorses what we set out to do, which is just brew the best Helles we can.
Chambers joked when they were announced as winners they:
… both sat there with ridiculous grins for about an hour before it sunk in.
He went on to explain how the two of them:
… spent a year creating this new recipe in Bavaria and we thought it was the best Helles we’ve tasted that’s why we made it. So yes we were surprised, because it’s the biggest award in the drinks industry. But at the same time we’ve always been confident of our product, so it was nice to get recognition I guess.
With over 20 years of experience each in the beer industry both men stressed a lot of factor’s went into making Hofeister Helles the awarding-winning beer it is today and despite only being up and running for a year, this has been in fact a three-year (and plus) project.
It’s a great beer, it’s a great style, it’s something people really enjoy but when you look at the brewing credentials and quality of the brewery, I think it really endorses what we’ve done. You look back and you think ‘Okay, we’ve got the best possible ingredients to go into this beer from Bavaria’.
Everything is sourced locally, everything is well managed, it’s extremely good, quality slow-brewing. It makes it a really fresh, crisp, clean, easy-drinking product and it’s got an awful lot of subtleties and complexities, so it’s a brilliantly balanced product.
However when asked for the secret for their success both of them were understandably reluctant to answer, after all magicians never give away their secrets. The only thing they’d say on that front was brewing is ‘literally an art’ where ‘you need to make sure you balance everything correctly’.
One thing they do reveal is they stick to an old Bavarian law known as ‘Reinheitsgebot’ – otherwise known as the ‘German Beer Purity Law’. It’s a law which has been in place for 500 years.
It basically means you can only make lager in Bavaria using water, malted barley and hoops [along with yeast, which no-one knew at the time] – it sounds pretty obvious but you’ll be amazed at the other stuff that goes into making beer.
It’s still in effect to this day in Bavaria, so the secret, I guess, is having good a quality of those four things that you could possibly have and someone with a great deal of skill and a lot of time time and luck.
In that sense you’d think the UK in general is a less-than-ideal place to home-brew your own booze. However both men are quick to dispel that notion.
Chambers points out:
There’s some absolutely fabulous beers made throughout the UK from small craft breweries all the way to the official Burton Ales and they should be world famous and appreciated as fabulous beers.
But I think what people realise more is, as a nation of lager drinkers, we can upgrade our larger the same way we upgraded our wine and our gin.
— Hofmeister Beer (@hofmeister_beer) September 20, 2017
We’re definitely not saying Britain doesn’t produce great beer, because it’s one of the best brewing countries in the whole world. It’s just that Helles lager can’t be produced unless you brew it in Southern Germany.
— Hofmeister Beer (@hofmeister_beer) September 15, 2017
Following Hofmeister Helles relaunch the lager is now stocked in over 150 pubs and bars across the UK.
You can also buy a batch online on Amazon.