The last Wednesday of October, a tradition as old as time itself (which if you have ever done the Grand Central station tour in NY you will know was invented by them in 1871. They also claim to have invented recycling), public holiday worthy, the drink that stops the nation.
Today we end our four part series into German beers. It has been a fascinating journey if I do say so myself. I’ve got to taste some very traditional world famous beers and I’ve also got to taste some great Aussie versions of the traditional German style. In fact in the battle so far Australia leads 2-1.
This time we are doing something a little different; we are crossing the Tasman and embracing our Kiwi cousins in the ‘Battle of the Helles (lagers)’. What is a Helles Lager? It’s actually a style that most people would be familiar with, even if you don’t call them Helles. Basically it’s a pale lager, in terms of style they are meant to be perfectly balanced with no ingredient dominating any other. Oh and Helles means light or bright in German.
Our German contender this week is Lowenbrau Original which comes from a young upstart of a brewery that claims to have opened in 1383 in Munich (before time existed, so I’m not sure how they know), now owned by global brewing giant AB InBev. Its emblem is a lion.
From New Zealand, is the Tuatara Brewing Munich Helles, which is a brewery opened in late 1990’s in Waikanae . It’s owned by a guy called Carl and its emblem is the Tuatara (which is a lizard like creature).
So let’s get this last ever Oktoberfest battle underway.
Look: The Lowenbrau is perfectly clear, a brilliant almost luminescent golden yellow with a stream of bubbles coming through the middle of it. The Tuatara is more yellow than gold, with a slight haze, more bubbles and a foamier denser head.
Taste: The Kiwi beer is very smooth, slightly sweet in the front of the sip, and then a touch of hops in the aftertaste, but nothing too pronounced. It certainly lives up to the expectation of being perfectly balanced. The German is a little thinner in the body, it has a slightly grainy and metallic taste to it and is very crisp and dry without any real lingering aftertaste.
Verdict: These are both good examples of the style and both a worth a look if you are searching for a refreshing, not filled with adjuncts, lager.
And the Winner is…… The Tuatara, I just found it a little fuller and more interesting. And that finishes our battle with the ANZACs winning 3 beers to 1.
Tuatara: I’ll have a Pint
Lowenbrau: Let’s have a Schooner.
Random Oktoberfest Fact: 500 pairs of crutches were lost at the 2010 Oktoberfest, I would like to insert a joke about being legless in here, but I can’t think of one.
Oh and the price of a 1 litre stein of beer, about 8.50 Euro, or about $11-12 Australian – about $3.40 a pot, seems reasonable to me.