Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #40. On the craft journey with variations on a lager theme.

A Quart of Ale± #40

On the craft journey with variations on a lager theme.  

O’Hara’s Lager 4.5%, 500ml bottle via Radical Drinks

This Helles, a traditional lager style on the continent, has a lovely clear mid-amber colour with a myriad of little bubbles rising towards the shrinking white head. Aromas are pleasant if not intense. And on the palate you have a very pleasing smooth lager that heads confidently, full of flavour but with a balancing low hop bitterness (thanks to having been hopped several times), towards a clean and satisfactory finale.

They say: The hop profile is tailored to suit the craft beer drinker and the bitterness is clean and intense. The malty body pays tribute to traditional European lagers and an extra-long conditioning time allows the maximum array of lager flavours to develop. The combination of noble hops, speciality malts and a classic lager yeast strain allow the esters and hop aromas to combine and balance perfectly.

Brewed to the Helles style (combining the brewing methods of a pale ale to the lager style) developed by German and Czech brewers, this is a lager with true character. It is conditioned for over 4 weeks to allow the floral esters from the lager yeast to fully infuse into the brew and develop a well attenuated body. These offset the malt and hop aromas to produce a truly unique craft lager brewed with flavour. Can’t argue with that assessment. Class in a glass as far as I’m concerned. Helles by the way is not mentioned on the label.

Advice is to serve at 6-8°C with roast lemon chicken, Spanish paella and grilled seabass or snapper and more using the O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer conical glass.

Weihenstephaner Original Helles, 5.1%, 500ml bottle via Bradleys

This German beer, from the oldest still existing brewery in the world, comes in a bright amber colour, with no shortage of bubbles streaming towards the slowly reducing white head. Spicy hops and malty sweetness can be found among the delicate aromas. The character shines through in the palate, strong and clean and refreshing. Terrific balance with a friendly light bitterness coming through also. Weihenstephan Original Helles is unique and exceptional and a regular award-winner.


The IBU figure, not given on all beers, is a modest 21. Serve at 6-8 degrees. Again, like many of the continental beers, the brewery comes up with a food pairing. Here they recommended Rump steak with marinade and give you the recipe as well. Check it out here.

Almost a thousand years ago Weihenstephan was the monastery brewery of the Benedictine monks. Then, the Royal Bavarian State Brewery stepped in and it is now operating as a state directed enterprise under the control of the Bavarian Government.

This bottom-fermented beer of Southern Germany is called Helles, which means both light and bright. Weihanstephaner also have a non-alcoholic version; check it out here.

Germany, by the way, is the “world’s fifth largest producer of beer” and “is also its second largest grower of hops”.

Rascals “Jailbreak” Helles Lager, 4.2%, 330 can via Bradleys

Colour of this Dublin produced lager is a light amber, no shortage of carbonation. No head worth talking about, at least from this can. Aromas are mostly floral. A pretty good Helles follows, decent body (soft and full), good balance between hops and malts as the lager smooths its way to an excellent finish. Now where would you get a pizza to go with it?

They say: In Inchicore, Dublin, we’ve a world class pizza restaurant with the freshest beer pouring straight from tank to tap. You can check out our event spaces and find out about brewery tours and the Rascals taproom experience at  


Geek Bits:

Malt: Bohemian Pilsner, Vienna, Melanoidin

Hops: Hallartau Mittlefruh

Yeast: Munich Helles

ABV: 4.2%

Wide Street “Mill Pils” Farmhouse Pilsner 5.5%, 440ml via

Colour of this Wicklow Pilsner is a pale yellow, quite close to lemon, and cloudy, with lots of bubbles shooting up to the steady, if not substantial, head. No shortage of hops here so you notice them straightaway on the nose and soon on the palate, where you come across plenty of earthy character and a hint of spice and a good dry finish. Something that bit different and well looking out for, a lager with attitude.

The label reveals it’s unfiltered, unpasteurised and can-conditioned, containing yeast sediment. Fermented with the famous German strain 34/70 at 12 degrees then dry hopped 12g/l with Hallertau Mittelfr├╝h and Saaz blend to add an Italian twist and create a hoppy Pilsner.

Wide Street Brewing Company specialises in mixed fermentation methods and 100% Brettanomyces beers. The vision is to brew innovative beers with alternative fermentation methods. Their house yeast is a custom blend of Brettanomyces, saccharomyces and lactobacillus strains from Bootleg Biology, a yeast laboratory based in Nashville, USA. This gives the beer a distinctive dry mouthfeel and enhanced fruity flavours.

They say: It’s a Pilsner with a twist! This Farmhouse Pilsner is double dry-hopped with hopped with Hallertauer-Mittelfrueh brewed revealing traditional spicy and earthy notes. The inspiration behind this beer is an Italian Pilsner style. This is brewed with Chateau pilsner malt and a small addition of Cara pils. 

Not quite the “traditional” lager as we’d know it around here and might be just to dry and too hoppy for some traditionalists. On the other hand though, it would be very interesting to compare it in a head to head tasting with Fort of the Fianna by Eight Degrees, another Italian style lager. Actually, very recently and at the last minute, I did manage to do just that and must say, that the Wide Street may be a shade more hoppier and a touch drier, there is very little qualitative difference, both getting the thumbs up, not just from me, but from around the table!

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