Münchner Edelstoff - Augustinerbräu, Munich
I still remember my first Augustiner beer, it was in Munich at the Augustinerbräu brewery in 2006. Augustiner was actually the first beer I had on tap in Germany so for that, and many other reasons, it will always have a special place in my heart. About a month ago I was at Gomer's in midtown and saw a couple funny looking bottles in the singles section and was surprised to see that they were actually from Augustiner in Munich. I didn't recognize these new labels, they're a tri-colored picture of an old monk with a look of approval on his face. I hope the packaging is local and the squat bottles are still in circulation elsewhere. But, whatever... the label doesn't change the way the beer tastes. So how was it? Well, it tastes just like I remember... which is to say, it tastes like Germany.
My first impression of the Edelstoff as I poured it from the Americanized 12 ounce bottle was, "This smells like rice..." It was quite clear and very light in color. But after all, this is a Helles style beer and since that's the German word for Light/Bright, it's rather fitting. The taste is where this beer excels. The flavor is lightly hoppy but balanced with just a little hint of malt. The aftertaste is a little fruity, almost as if the beer is trying to evoke a Weiss. When these flavors combined on my palate I was taken back to the biergartens of Germany. Back to that first summer I spent in Bavaria. Back then I wasn't able to appreciate the Helles as much as I do now (it's amazing how much better this beer tastes in the middle of a 95+ degree Kansas summer). Before you start thinking that I'm being too sentimental about this particular bottle of Augustinerbräu, let me tell you that I've had a number of American made Helles style beer and they simply don't stack up. I'm not sure what is, perhaps it's just the beers that I've had or an unconscious and unfair comparison to a Helles I had in Germany... take your pick.
The Augustiner Helles is really more than just a combination of barley, hops and water... This beer honestly tastes like Viktualienmarkt, the Englischer Garten and my fondest memories of Germany.