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Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier - abv 4.3%; £2.25 / 50cl
The city of Bamberg in northern Bavaria has a population of only around 7,5000, substantially smaller than York, yet has ten breweries, 11 if you include the Robespierre Brewery with its annual output of 15 hectolitres, equivalent to about ten barrels (fewer than 3,000 pints).
Our beer this week comes from the Heller brewery, which has been in operation since 1678.
It is most famous for its interpretation of the local speciality Rauchbier, made using beech-smoked malt, two versions of which have featured in past editions of this column.
Today we encounter Heller’s lagerbier, brewed with conventional ingredients but using the same vessels as the Rauchbier, and fermented with the same yeast strain.
The colour is the familiar pale gold, and the head is lively and fluffy, subsiding to a thin layer of foam. There is an aroma of green fruit, with apple, buttermint and some delicate, spicy hops.
The palate is quite rich and honeyed, with buttery, slightly sweet malt contrasting with dry, lemony, spicy hops, and a faint but distinct hint of smoke in the background to add complexity. The finish is lingering, dry, herbal and subtly smoky.
An intriguingly different take on a conventional style…distinctive, delicate and delicious.
Recommended by Jim Helsby, of the York Beer & Wine Shop, Sandringham Street, York