The older UK-based readers of this blog may well remember the Hofmeister brand from the early 1980s onwards. Marketed as a German lager, the brand name was actually invented by Edinburgh’s Scottish & Newcastle brewery, with the beer also nothing to do with Bavaria, being brewed in the UK rather than on the continent. The beer was advertised by ‘George the Bear’, a cockney geezer in a furry suit who seemed to delight in numerous pub games and antics in various TV ads during the mid to late 80s; the first batch of which were the last directorial efforts of one Orson Welles. Check out the madness here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkR0krOm9M4
The original Hofmeister brand was discontinued in 2003, and was acquired by Heineken when they took over the Scottish & Newcastle business in 2007. With Heineken having no plans to use the brand name, a couple of previous Hofmeister fans, Spencer Chambers and Richard Longhurst, bought the name from the brewer in 2016, with a plan to not only relaunch the beer, but reimagine it too. The first step to this was to find an actual Bavarian brewer to take on brewing responsibilities. Hofmeister was finally to be a proper German lager!
The beer is now brewed by Privatbrauerei Schweiger which is located near the Ebersberger Forest in Bavaria, and imported into the UK for sale. Hofmeister Ultra Low is, you guessed it, the brand’s non-alcoholic option. Launched in April of 2021, it’s picked up several awards, most recently a Gold at the Craft Beer Awards London 2022. It’s brewed to the Reinheitsgebot purity law, but I was unable to find out what method (if any) they use to remove the alcohol from the brew. Time to ‘follow the bear’ and take a trip back to the 1980s.
The beer pours a golden colour, with some slight fridge haze but otherwise clear, looking pretty lively with lots of steady bubbles. A small white head is produced, but shrinks back within minutes. On the nose we get lager malt, slightly bready, along with peppery spice and a hint of sweet sherbet. A decent enough start.
When we drink the malt is immediately apparent, with a gentle bready sweetness that quickly becomes much drier, and we get a slightly sour citrus kick, along with grassy hops and peppery spice. There’s a slightly ‘musty’ note, akin to wet cardboard, though it doesn’t overpower. The body is good, with the carbonation being lighter than it appeared on pouring. The mouthfeel is quite crisp, and we get a short, dry finish to the beer.
Hofmeister Ultra Low is a pleasant alcohol-free beer, not quite in the Helles style but drier, with a sharper edge that makes it more interesting than your standard lager. Production in Bavaria has certainly improved the product, and it sits as a great alternative to the macro nolos on the menu. But the rest of 1980s non-alcoholic beer can stay there in the past.
Buy Hofmeister Ultra Low
Hofmeister beers might not be as widespread as they were in the 1980s, but you might be able to find them at your local bottle shop. Of course, online shopping has your Ultra Low cravings covered:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Mineral Water, Barley Malt, Hops, Fermentation Carbon Dioxide|
|Country of Production||Germany|
|Brewer||Hofmeister Brewing Co – https://hofmeister.co.uk/|
Hofmeister Ultra Low Review
Nothing like the original Hofmeister, which is very much a good thing. Crisp and dry German lager makes for a refreshing drink.