Prologue: Big Helga, sister to Fat Yak (which I promise I will review at some point). She came into my life in early December. I was at one of my many family Christmas functions. There were only two beer drinkers in the room, so we banded together and opened a couple bottles, sat quietly in the corner and were happy little vegemites.
It made another appearance at my immediate family’s Christmas, where everyone is a beer drinker. We sat on the balcony sipping away and throughly enjoying it.
And then on the weekend, there it was again sitting in a keg at the Doutta Galla hotel in Flemington, a third group of people to test it. This is perhaps the most scientific of all Tipples reviews. It has a sample size of seven people. If Frewy has taught me anything about research it’s that sample size matters.
Appearance: It has a nice pale gold colour, almost like straw with a cascade of bubbles. Not big fat commercial lager bubbles, but rather small, more delicate bubbles.
Taste: Very smooth and easy to drink, refreshing but complex. Although this is not wheat beer I thought I could get small hints of third most popular cereal in the world.
I also felt the beer had fruity overtones, and if I had to guess a fruit I was suggest Passionfruit. Now bitterness and the fruity flavours generally get into the beer through the hops. I did some research to see if I was right. I found out the Big Helga is made with Pacifica Hops from New Zealand. Pacifica is meant to give orange marmalade tones, so I was vaguely close.
Pacifica is also meant to give a solid yet soft finish to the beer, and I would whole heartily agree that this is the case.
Packaging: I really like the bottle. I like any bottle with a buxom wench on it. I like the fonts, the colours. As we know from my review of Kronenbourg 1664 I love an embossed bottle so the raised Matilda Bay on the bottle really does it for me.
And because I love a story of unrequited love I like the (most likely made up) story behind the name of the beer. Here it is…..
The story of Big Helga begins with a Matilda Bay brewer who took a break, went in search of inspiration and found it in Munich at Oktoberfest, where he fell in love with a lofty blonde beer maid named Helga. . . Helga, he said, through misty eyes and with a croaky voice, could carry 12 steins of beer while his mates struggled with two. Helga was large, certainly, but she had a heart of pure Munich gold. Helga, he reminisced, should come to Australia one day and meet his parents . . .
She never came. So he made a beer in her honour instead.
Having a beer named for you, now that’s love
Food suggestion: Being German I want to say Sausages. Here is a photo of me in Germany (Berlin not Munich) with a sausage….
In Conclusion: This isn’t the experimental brew that you impress your beer wanker friends with,It’s not the type of high hopped, high alcohol beer that is only liked by fat guys with beards and a trilby hats. No this is a beer that you can take to a BBQ, one of those great session beers, easy to find, easy to drink and guaranteed to be enjoyed by all, or at least the seven people I’ve drunk this with.
Ranking: I’ll have a Pint thanks.
The long bow YouTube clip: I was bought up on a diet of pop songs, but I still claim that the best song of unrequited love, (like that between Big Helga and our brewer friend) is ‘Saturday Boy’ by Billy Bragg