Welcome to Helles!
With those words, Wheatsheaf owner Jade Flavell kicked off the Three Circles of Helles masterclass in classically Wheaty pun fashion.
The event saw people gather in the pub’s tin shed to analyse and critique three lagers in a true scientific experiment in which three traditional lagers were fermented under the same condition except for one difference: the yeast. Local yeast company Ferveo provided the trio: the traditional Weinstephaner W 34/70; a Neurtralager strain; and a variety named Riverside which was the original strain used by the South Australian Brewing Co in the 1950s.
The water profile was stripped back to be as clean as can be, and every ferment was kept at 12C. Three very different beers emerged, sparking deep discussion at the masterclass where Jade was supported by tasting expert Briony Liebich of Flavour Logic and yeast guru Tommaso Watson from Ferveo Yeast. What did we tuck into on the night?
First Circle of Helles: Klarrein Yeast
First Circle of Helles takes the form of a classic German Helles, which is fitting given the yeast here has roots in the oldest brewery in the world, Weinstephaner. There's a little spice on the nose when the beer is first served cold; as it warms, subtle banana creeps in alongside bready malt characters. The 6 percent ABV supports the solid mouthfeel and body as the bready malts take over flavour wise, with a touch of honey, toast and spice in the mix before it finishes very dry and crisp.
Second Circle of Helles: Riverside Yeast
Riverside yeast was used in the 1950s to brew beers such as West End. It took on hefeweizen vibes with strong phenolics: lots of banana and clove on the nose with just a touch of acidity. The Hefe theme continued through the first sip with, oddly, some wheat notes appearing through the banana and biscuit malts, before a touch of acidity appears amid a medium body and dryish finish.
Third Circle of Helles: Neurtralager Yeast
Probably the easiest drinking of the lot, the yeast in the Third Circle unsurprisingly produced a neutral clean lager. When cold, there were some lemon aromas before things turned maltier. The experience leaned slightly towards a craftier commercial lager: light bready, biscuity and a touch of honey malts. A little thinner than the others, aiding drinkability, it too finished dry, clean and crisp – once it had completed the sensory demonstration of how the brewer's choice of little creatures can make a significant difference.
Published November 28, 2023 2023-11-28 00:00:00