Homebrewer Tim Palmer took the spotlight for the second time at Broad Ripple Brewpub. His 2015 Indiana State Fair Brewers' Cup homebrew Best of Show German Lager earned a Pro-Am [professional-amateur] collaboration with BRBP head brewer Jonathon Mullens.
Surrounded by a room full of fellow homebrewers, Palmer accepted rightful accolades for "Welcome to Helles,” a sunny translucent Munich Helles with a touch of effervescence at the start. The subtle floral hop aroma gives way to a malt-focus first sip balanced by light bitterness, layering into a full-mouth feel to close with a touch of peppery tartness. Each succeeding sip reveals the delicate balance and brightness originally created by the Spaten Brewery in Munich in 1894 to meet head-on competition from the recently devised Bohemian Pilsner Urquell—the first golden-hued lagers created as a breakaway from the traditional dark lagers—“dunkelbier.” Light-hued lagers came into existence when clear glass came onto the marketplace and brewers took advantage of the ability to showcase something different—lighter malted grains and softer water. [Of course, there's more to this story—find it on pages 88-89 in Kohn's Complete Idiot's guide to Beer Tasting]
Generally, as a style, German Pilsners are drier than are Bohemian Pilsners. When a bar-mate apologized for drinking a white wine when the rest of us were savoring a German Pils, it was an opportunity to mention there is room for all of us to enjoy what we prefer, yet I could not resist adding a mention about the similar profiles between beer and wine styles. Crossing over between the two has value.
Tim noted the challenges of translating his homebrew lager into a professional brewing setting. There’s a degree of freedom in homebrewing that allows for step mashing and decoction—a process where the temperature is increased in ‘steps’ between rests — to bring forward a fuller malt body. Tim said he and Jonathan figured out a way around this to gain the kind of roundedness he wants for his beer. It’s a situation where multi-step mashing has to give way to the general practice of single-step mashing in a professional brewing set up.
The conversation seemed like a re-dux from April 30, 2014 when Tim’s 2013 Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup Best of Show German Pilsner was tapped at BRBP, at that time in collaboration with head brewer John Treeter. Once again Tim was pointing out the delicacy of the styles he brews and mentioning “you can’t hide behind anything with either a Pils or a Helles. Even the hops choices for both are delicate.”
Jonathon stayed in the shadows on April 28, 2016, yet he did mention how much fun it is to collaborate with homebrewers and to figure out how to mesh two different systems to highlight a winning beer.
The general consensus from Foam Blowers of Indiana [FBI homebrew club] members and the public at large —“Welcome to Helles” is totally refreshing and sessionable at 5.7% ABV, 17.3 IBUs. It pairs well with BRBP’s regular menu, especially something spicy like they Thai Spiced Pork Sandwich. I personally enjoyed Helles with the fish dinner, Loui Lord Nelson [pictured here with Tim Palmer] partnered Helles with a fruit, cheese and tuna salad, and most everybody just enjoyed sipping.
In 2014 Great Fermentations posted a profile about Tim Palmer. You can find it here: http://www.greatfermentations.com/interview-tim-palmer/
The 2016 Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup competition takes place July 8-9 at the State Fair. The public is invited to attend the awards ceremony on July 9. Watch this column for details.