I’d Tap That: Sam Adams Fresh as Helles has the right character for summer
Glassware: Lagers are bright and refreshing beers that offer a great array of subtle qualities. Glassware that allow this subtleness to shine is the best choice for lagers. Most bars will serve lagers in the standard shaker pint glass, and while this helps the beers to go from glass to stomach quickly, they do not trap the aroma of the beer. Fresh as Helles offers a wonderful citrus aroma that enhances the enjoyment of the beer. A nonic pint, willi becher, or Sam Adams glass will do wonders for the beer.
Description: Fresh as Helles pours a light golden amber hue with a bright white rocky head that leaves a thick layer of lacing on the glass. The aroma is subtle but has notes of fresh orange blossoms, sweet malts, honey, and subtle spicy and citrus hops. The taste follows the nose, but again is subtle. The orange notes cascade over the palate first followed by by honey sweetness and a delicate hop bite. The finish is long and semi-dry with a residual orange sweetness left on the palate. The medium body and moderate carbonation aid in the smooth mouthfeel that this beer possesses, which enhances the drinkability factor. While lagers seem to be overlooked by many craft beer lovers, they constitute a great workhorse-style of beer that is good for all occasions. Sam Adams’ Fresh as Helles is an enjoyable spring seasonal beer that helps ease into that summer transition that we are all longing to begin.
Food pairing: The bright character of Fresh as Helles makes it a great pairing for many summer favorites and is a great accompaniment to any Memorial Day cookouts. Try pairing Fresh as Helles with a light summer salad topped with citrus fruits, especially oranges, and a light vinaigrette. The malt character will coat the salad and add a layer of flavor that will not overpower the dish, but instead match its light, earthy character. Fresh as Helles is perfect with grilled meats as well and leaves no reason to shy away from the barbecue sauce. Freshly grilled sausages, chicken, hamburgers, and even salmon are great pairings. The sweet malt character will sink its teeth into the natural caramelization of the meat and sauce, and the citrus notes make a fitting counterpoint to traditional grilling spices.
The Final Word: The craft beer community has made a strong move toward ales in all varieties, with an especially heavy emphasis on IPAs. But it was lagers that paved the way for the craft beer bounty that we now enjoy. Many brewers that began the craft beer movement were exposed to the great lagers of Germany and brought that inspiration home to America. The trouble with lagers stems from a long history tied to macro brewers that served severely watered down and under-flavored versions of the world-class beers. Thankfully, brewers such as Sam Adams have continued their love affair with lagers and brewed great beers like Fresh as Helles. The helles lager style is a comfortable fit for summer, and the English translation actually means bright. The bright character and low ABV will offer refreshment on the many hot summer days that are fast approaching.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams)
Beer: Fresh as Helles
Style: Helles lager