Ok, back to the basics for this post. Today's beer is the people's beer of Munich, so to speak. It is simple, refreshing, classic, and most of all, comes in 2 liter steins.
Hofbrau Original is obviously made by Hofbrau Munchen, or Munich. Since I can't get umlauts (the two dots above vowels) to show up, I will just use Munich. Hofbrau is credited with being the first brewery to follow the Reinheitsgebot, which is known in the non-German-speaking world as the German Beer Purity Law. This states that beer can only be made with water, hops, malted grain, and yeast. This means no additional spices, fruits, sugars, etc. Bayern (Bavaria) still has this law in effect. While certain beers, such as a hefeweizen might make you think that they added fruit (particularly bananas), but that is just esters from the yeast. Some people might say that these regulations might make the beer boring. I say that it makes it pure and delicious. With is law, it prevents one of my pet peeves in beer: Throwing a bunch of stuff into the beer and saying it tastes good.
Hofbrau Original is a Munich Helles style, which is the German way of saying a light lager. Now, you shouldn't think that by "light lager" I am saying it is in the same category as American light lagers. The "light" does not refer to the caloric content, taste, or ABV, but rather the color. It sits at a relatively normal 5.1% ABV, so it wouldn't normally knock you on your ass, except that it is generally served by the liter. In personal experience, especially if it is hot, the first liter goes down really easy and really quickly. About halfway through the second, you will probably realize that you are drinking a ton of beer and it is really really good. You might not realize that you are drunk until you stand up. The beer is light in body, but has a somewhat complex flavor (if you are drinking slow enough to pay attention). It is overall very pleasant, with a light biscuit sweetness, light lemon zest flavor, and finishes with a pleasant hop bitterness. I could drink this all day long.
The simple light lager is a lost style in the US. There are select breweries that make fantastic lagers, but especially among beer connoisseurs or emerging enthusiasts, the light lager is often looked down upon. This is probably due to the bastadardization of the German and Czech styles by the larger American breweries. Still, a beer does not need to overwhelm the palate with flavors. Beer does not need to be as dark as oil or crammed full of hops to be delicious. The light, refreshing beers have their own place in the world of beer and it might even be more difficult to create a great one. If you don't believe me, try some German light lagers. If you tell me that they have no redeeming value, I will show you a person who doesn't know beer.
Not that it really needs to be said, but Hofbrau really knows what they are doing. During the 30 years war, when the Swedish were ready to attack Munich, they made a deal with the city: If the city would return some of the Swedish prisoners and give the Swedes something like 600,000 barrels of Hofbrau beer, they would leave the city alone. It is the beer that saved the city. You know it is good because even the foreign kings wanted it. Hell, the Swedes probably wanted the war so that they could get their hands on the beer (citation needed).
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