Follow the bear - re-invented Hofmeister wins Best Lager of 2017

Pic by Nigel Davies
Pic by Nigel Davies

Crawley’s Hofmeister Brewing Company scored a huge success this week, when their Hofmeister Helles won Best Lager of 2017 at the IWSC Beer Awards.

Hofmeister Helles retains the 1980s lager’s brand name and logo, but the brewers are keen to point out that everything else about it is new.

The original Hofmeister was a cheap, mass-produced lager, made memorable by TV adverts starring the strutting uber-geezer George the Bear, and by the slogan: ‘For Great Lager, Follow the Bear’.

After a 13 year hibernation, the bear is back - the brand was revived last year, with the aim of creating a drink that would be taken seriously in the craft brewing era.

Co-founders Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers found a family-owned brewery in Bavaria, which now slow brews Hofmeister Helles according to the Reinheitsgebot purity laws, using only mineral water, hops and barley.

They say the result has more flavour, more alcohol (up from 3.4 per cent to 5 per cent) and less fizz.

As well as winning Best Lager of 2017 at the International Wine and Spirits Competition Beer awards, Hofmeister Helles also became the first lager ever to be awarded five stars in the competition.

Tim Hampson, IWSC judge and chairman of The British Guild of Beer Writers, said: “It is a gentle, highly complex beer, which showcases lager brewing at its best and the importance of good quality raw materials.

“It’s light, bright and very drinkable. Very well balanced. It is hard to cut corners when brewing a beer of this style. It’s a relaxed, good time social beer.

“One to drink with friends and share conversations... and once a glass is finished, you’ll want to have another.”

Spencer Chambers said: “This time last year we had exactly zero customers and zero credentials. Today we are now stocked in 150 of the UK’s best pubs, bars and restaurants including Piano Bar and Bierkellers nationwide.

“We have worn out the leather on our shoes and dragged suitcases of beer up more staircases than we like to remember – our entire families, even our mothers, have pitched in to help sell as many bottles as possible.”

Richard Longhurst said: “We did not just want to bring back a famous beer brand. We wanted to re-invent it for modern beer drinkers who are looking for authentic, craft beers with genuine provenance.

“Every keg, bottle and barrel of Hofmeister Helles is made following Germany’s 1516 Reinheitsgebot Beer Purity Law which states only three ingredients can be used in the brewing process, ensuring that our beer is truly authentic for each and every pour.”

Hofmeister Helles is on sale in pubs and bars, and through Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hofmeister-Helles-Lager-12-330ml/dp/B01MR7QIY7

For a look back at the antics of George the Bear, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkR0krOm9M4

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