Ah, Spring. The Beer Garden is bursting with newness. Our tree is covered with fresh green leaves; the vines are a riot of yellow flowers with hummingbirds zooming from blossom to blossom.
It’s time for Helles.
In Bavaria, Helles is the quintessential Beer Garden drink. Pale golden and medium bodied, Helles goes down easy, glass after glass.
According to the German Beer Institute, Helles is one of the rare beer styles with a definite birthday: March 21, 1894. The Spaten Brewery sent a test cask of blond lager to the port city of Hamburg on the North Sea. Spaten wanted to compete with the pale Pilsner lager from Bohemia, but wasn’t sure how it would go over in their hometown of Munich. Using the old salts in the Hamburg taverns as guinea pigs, they continued to work out the recipe for the next 15 months. It wasn’t until June 20th of the following year that Munich natives got their first taste of Helles, but what a taste it was.
Until then, only dark beer was considered “real” Bavarian lager, perhaps because Bavarians love to drink their beer from traditional stoneware mugs or steins, and wouldn’t have noticed the color, anyway. Much of Europe had switched to glass vessels, in which the lighter colored beers appeared pure and clean. As the popularity of pale-colored beers in the rest of Europe grew, the Munich brewers followed with Helles Lager.
Even today, one in four beers drunk in Bavaria is a Helles.
Anaheim Helles Lager is refreshing beer with an emphasis on malt. You may notice some bready flavors along with a very slightly floral hop aroma, but very little bitterness.
Every time we brew this beer, we notice how popular it is with women. That made us think of singer and actor James Todd Smith, who in the 1980’s reminded people that “Ladies Love Cool James.” We know him now as the incomparable LL Cool J.
So try an Anaheim Helles, H-E-LL-E-S, and remember “Ladies Love Helles.”