David Sapsis's picture

Judge's Review: 87 Rating - Wolfsburg Helles by Reuben's Brews

July, 2020
Judges Rating: 
20 / 24
6 / 6
35 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

Wolfsburg Helles by Reuben's Brews was judged as BJCP category 4A, Munich Helles, the classic malt-forward golden and dry lager of Southern German origin.

The nose is lightly floral with hops and faint crackery malt but lacking the predominant continental bready malt sweetness found in the best examples. Ferment seems clean but lacks the fresh yeast-sulfur note found in the finest examples. Overall, the hop balance belies the style assigned. That said, these hop notes – grassy-floral and lightly perfumy with angles of honeysuckle and lavender – are very pleasant. The flavor is surprisingly full early with vinous-floral and honey notes with a medium level of bitterness; the mid-palate has a light acidity along with fairly assertive floral hop notes similar in character to those found in the nose. The finish again has some lingering sharpness from acidity, with a relatively short and dry crackery malt flavor. Bitterness lingers into the aftertaste, possibly accentuated by mineral hardness in the brewing liquor. Body is medium-light, but given the bitterness level, relatively high hop flavor component and lack of a straightforward grainy malt sweetness arising from a pilznermalz backbone, it deviates a fair distance from a classic Hellesbier.

In summation, the beer leans toward hops when the style begs to the counter. Still, it is a clean light lager with nice structure and pleasant hop notes and is quite refreshing. Honestly, it would score better if judged as a pilsner, where a more hop-forward balance is expected, even though the bitterness isn’t quite to the level of a pilsner. I figure the beer would go very well with a spicy Southeast Asian-style meal, like a Thai Curry, or a spicy Champon ramen.