Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fiddlehead Helles

I stopped by the brewery tasting room last friday to sample their new beer on tap. After talking to the brewer and server in the tasting room, they informed me that every other friday the Brewery will be releasing a new batch of beer for samples, growlers, and growlettes. I made an impulse decision to buy a growler of their new Munich Helles to bring back for more sampling. I have also sort of taken it upon myself to try and sample every new batch of beer they release bi-weekly.

Alcohol Content: 4.7%
IBU: 17
Malts: Pilsner, Carahell
Hops: Hallertau

Price: $13/ Growler + deopsit; $10/ growler
Medium: Poured into a pint glass (sampled after second day of growler pour)

Aroma: Distinct hop aroma with pungent floral and spicy noble hop notes. I described it as a much stronger hop presence than typical for the style, but this is very pleasing and does not detract from the style. As the beer warms, I easily picked up on an off-flavor (aroma) which I had a hard time distinguishing between acetaldehyde and DMS (Dimethylsulfide). The acetaldehyde is characteristic of a green apple aroma (think bud light), whereas the DMS contributed notes of creamed corn (think genesee). Perhaps it needed a longer fermentation - or left on the yeast before transferring to secondary. I was told it was sitting in a secondary a week prior. Pilsner malt dominates the backbone and maintains the body of the beer.
Appearance: Fairly clear, definitely lager-like in character. Condensation forms around the glass quickly but when wiped down the clarity is greatly improved. Low visible carbonation; however, a rocky white head forms and is slow is disperse back in the beer. Great lacing and a brilliant golden color - appropriate for the style. I will also mention the sound of carbonation releasing when I popped the cap of the growler at day two - meaning a good seal/ tightly capped at the brewery.
Flavor: My first impression was a cross between a cream ale and a lager, and this is due to the off-flavors that come across as green apple and/ or creamed corn. Assuming a lager strain was used, this beer could be cleaner in character and style. DMS comes across as canned/ creamed corn just like the aroma. Hop bitterness is slightly stronger for style and hop flavors are also quite big (and pleasant). Slightly spicy and noble hop character is definite. Floral notes are also big. Pilsner malt character lingers a little but is mostly cleaned up by the bitterness and carbonation.
Mouthfeel: I noted a chalky mouthfeel but I'm unsure of the brewing water mineral content. Moderately high carbonation kept well after a day of being poured from the brewery into a growler. Dries out only a little in the aftertaste but I found this to be form the water profile/ mineral content as well as bitterness. Crisp and refreshing when served very chilled. More off-flavors and aromas are distinguishable in warmer serving temps.
Overall Impression: I have to say the small sample I was served at the brewery tasted much better than the growler I brought home, the reason being because it was served very chilled whereas the growler was allowed to warm and I picked up on various aromas (and taste) that can be described as off-flavors. Since its a lager, the cold serving temp made for a deliciously crisp experience. That being said, it is up to the consumer to make sure the beer is served in an appropriate manner, a facet breweries deal with on an everyday basis for beers that leave their warehouse.

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