Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier – Heller brewery from Bamberg

The legendary brewery, famous throughout the world for its smoked beers, is located in Bamberg.
Today: Heller Brauerei and its Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier.


Previously I tried smoked beer named Smoked Bomb from Anarchy Brew. Following this path, I thought it worth to introduce on the blog the legend of this style – Heller Brauerei, the more that I have just set their drinks.

When we talk about it so characteristic style as smoked beer and we want to know its famous representatives, the first association always goes to Bamberg and to beers known as Schlenkerla.

Bamberg is a town lying now in Bavaria, but historically belongs to Upper Franconia.
Franconians are particularly proud of their beer, and Upper Franconia has the largest concentration of breweries in Germany.
One of the most famous breweries in Bamberg is just Heller Brauerei, known for their Rauchbier, that is – smoked beers.

At the street Dominikanerstrasse 6 there is a historic building – the seat of Heller brewery and the inn, known as Schlenkerla.


Bamberg - Schlenkerla

photo: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlenkerla


This historic brewery, still successfully operating and rejoicing palates of beer gourmets, formerly was called “Under the Blue Lion” – hence above the entrance is its image.
There also appears date: 1405 – from this year came the first mention about the brewery Schlenkerla.
It is also surrounded by a laurel wreath, figure a certain brewer that as a result of an accident at the brewery has been lame.
In Franconian schlenker is the definition of man, who walks as if too much to drink, or just lame and limping his leg, while the ending -la is a diminutive.
“Schlenkerla” it means so much as ‘little lame duck’ or ‘little hobbler’. This name stuck to the brewery and became its symbol.
Since 1678 the brewery is housed in a restaurant and, speaking contemporary language, is a brewpub.


How to brew smoked beers?
Basically, just like any other. The difference lies in using smoked malts – they give this characteristic flavour.
These beers have their origins in the days when malt dried on special grids over an open fire. With time, it was noted that the malt, for which enable smoke, gives to beer a specific aroma and flavour.

For a taste of smoked beer has an impact, of course, the amount of smoked malt (can range from several to hundred percent), but also the type of wood used to smoking the malt.
At the brewery Heller is used beech wood, in other breweries may be for example oak wood, but also peat or coal.


Heller Brauerei has its own malt house, in which from barley is prepared their own smoked malt.
The brewing process takes place in a historical copper vats.
The first fermentation takes approx. 7 days, after which the beer goes to the second fermentation tanks and for maturation, which takes 6-8 weeks.
Maturation takes place in long caves under Stefansberg in a system of tunnels, which has 700 years and maintain a uniform cool temperature throughout the year.
Then the beer is poured into oak barrels and bottled.
The annual production of the brewery is 20,000 hectoliters.


Brewing in Schlenkerla

photo: http://www.schlenkerla.de/


Beers from brewery’s offer are known collectively as Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier which means ‘Original Schlenkerla smoked beer’.
We have, among others: Märzen, Urbock, Doppelbock, Weizen and Helles Lagerbier. Everything with smoked malts. Well, maybe except for lager, but more about that in a moment.
These are beers valued around the world, winning and titled. Alike brewery and their beers are in the forefront in various rankings.
I predict five meetings on the blog with products of Schlenkerla. I begin with helles lager.

Helles Schlenkerla Lager from Heller Brauerei - bottle

I right away point out: this beer, as the only in brewery’s offer, is manufactured without the use of smoked malts. Nevertheless, it has notes of smoke, and it’s for this reason that it is brewed in the same vats as the other beers of Schlenkerla. Accordingly, the smoke flavours and aromas pass to this lager and somehow it fits in the whole family of Rauchbiers from Heller brewery.


Maybe a few words about what it is helles and how it differs from ordinary lager.
Helles is a variation of lager, which comes from southern Germany – was brewed especially in Munich, hence the name sometimes: Munich Helles.
This word in German means “bright” and so it is precisely helles lager. Pale gold, in flavour slightly sweet, corny, with a rather low bitterness, medium bodied – such a mild version of Pilsner.


Helles Lagerbier from Schlenkerla, like all beers from their offer, are sold in EURO bottles, which are popular in Germany, for example in Upper Franconia.
This bottle combined with a stylish label makes from Schlenkerla very original packaging. For this, each beer has matched top label and cap with a symbol of the brewery.

Label from today’s lager has as a background colours of the Bavarian flag, stylized Gothic letters inscribed the name of the beer, as well as information that the beer was brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law (German Beer Purity Law), i.e. Reinheitsgebot from 1516.

It is known from the brewery’s website, that was used here hops from the area around the city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg).


So it’s time for the first beer from series signed as Schlenkerla – let’s get started.


Name: HELLES SCHLENKERLA LAGERBIER (Helles Lager, 4,3% ABV, ext. 11,5%, IBU 30)
Brewery: Brauerei Heller (Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany)

Expiration date: 02/2016 (bottle 500ml)

Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier from Heller Brauerei - beer 1
Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier from Heller Brauerei - labels


Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier from Heller Brauerei - beer 2


test-look-small Light golden colour.
Foam medium height, fairly quickly fraying and perforates – remains cirrus layer.
test-sniff-small Perceptible aroma of malt, cereal, bread.
Next are present smoke notes (despite the fact that beer is not freshest), as well as fruits and resinous.
test-drink-small Flavour in the foreground is malty-smoked. It is sweet and smoky at the same time.
It reminds smoked ham, but apart from that it brings notes of burnt wood.
That smoky flavour is subdued, not overbearing, but clearly present.
Next, you can feel the spicy from hops, a bit of fruits, a little pine resin.
Bitterness is coming slowly, growing with every sip, but does not exceed a certain medium level – is pleasant, herbal.
Carbonation is medium – nice refreshing. Bodied at the average level.


Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier from Heller Brauerei - beer 3


Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier is a unique lager in its class.
Originality give him clear in the aroma and flavour notes of smoked. Here we have corny sweetness, hops adding to beer elements of fruits and resin and moderate bitterness.
Beer is very drinkable, refreshing, though as the helles – delicate and slightly watery.




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