Two new beers join Hofmeister’s Helles voted World’s Best Lager*

Hofmeister, the relaunched authentic Bavarian Helles lager brand, is launching two new beers it believes will help it capture its share of two of the fastest growing beer trends - a Weisse beer and a 0.5% Ultra Low Helles variety.

The new launches are the first additions Hofmeister has made since it was relaunched into the UK beer market in 2017 by two British entrepreneurs, Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers, who saw an opportunity to buy and bring the once much loved brand back to life.

It was their decision to relaunch Hofmeister as a genuine slow brewed Bavarian Helles lager that has been crucial in it capturing a new foothold in the UK beer market, with both beer drinkers who remember it from first time around, and a new generation of Hofmeister beer drinkers.

Hofmeister is confident the two new beers will appeal to both customer groups as they have been made to the same exacting standards as the relaunched Helles brand. The new cold fermented, slow brewed Hofmeister Helles complies with the 1516 German Reinheitsgebot purity laws that means only three ingredients - locally sourced mineral water, hops and barley - can be used in the brewing process.

Spencer Chambers believes the time is right for Hofmeister to expand its range: “Firstly we are just gigantic fans of Bavarian beer. The plan was always to start with a classic helles then build the range out into other styles that are part of the fabric of Bavarian brewing. We have had a lot of success with our Helles and we were particularly delighted with online sales during the back end of 2020.

"But we also want to give our growing customer base, across a wide range of premium bars, pubs and specialist stores, the opportunity to serve more of their customers with two styles of beer that suit very different, but increasingly important, drinking occasions.

“Both the wheat beer and ultra low alcohol categories have seen enormous growth in the last couple of years, with lots of new entrants to the market, but we believe our traditional, Bavarian styles bring something new to these categories that beer drinkers have not seen before in the UK.”  

Hofmeister’s Weisse beer

With demand for wheat beers growing every year - and the category accounting for more than one in five (22%) beer drinkers (SIBA 2020 British Craft Beer Report) - Hofmeister believes its 5.1% Weisse brand offers something different. An authentic Bavarian Weisse style, made from Hallertau hops, it has a rich body, is thick and velvety to pour and bursts with aromas of ripe banana, vanilla, brioche, with a combination of bitterness and cream on the tongue.

“Classic beer styles are classics for a reason,” said Chambers. “It’s why so many craft breweries around the world try to emulate the Bavarian wheat beers in their range. For us though nothing is quite the same as a Weisse beer made in its home of Bavaria. Perhaps it’s the use of purely local Bavarian ingredients, perhaps it’s the skill and knowledge passed down over hundreds of years or the tight control of production that only lifted around 180 years ago. Consumers are looking more and more for authenticity, integrity of ingredients and excellence and all this is at the heart of our Hofmeister Weisse beer.”

He added: “We launched Hofmeister Weisse in mini kegs in time for Christmas and they sold out immediately, so we feel now is a great time to add to our offering for the off-trade and direct to consumer.”

Hofmeister Weisse will be available to retail in 330ml bottles with distribution focused on high quality wine merchants, bottle shops and online retailers. It will also be targeted at premium food-led pubs, bars and restaurants both in bottles, on draught and in mini keg formats.

Hofmeister Ultra Low

Hofmeister believes its new Ultra Low variety, with 0.5% alcohol, is ideally suited to the large numbers of people, across all age groups, who are now switching to lower or no alcohol products.

New ‘Low and No 2021’ research from KAM Media claims awareness of low and no products “skyrocketed” in 2020 with nearly one-in-two consumers having now tried a low or no alcohol variant at home.

But as people change their drinking behaviour they are also demanding and expecting better quality products, according to KAM Media. It says only 37% of customers rated the current range of low and no options in pubs as “good or very good” and 60% said taste is the most important factor in deciding which low and no product to buy. They want it to taste just as good as any standard alcohol product.

This is where Hofmeister is confident it can step in by offering an authentic tasting Bavarian Helles-style lager with only 0.5% alcohol.

Chambers said its new 0.5% Hofmeister Ultra Low is very much in step with the traditions of Bavarian brewing. “In the UK low-no beers is a new category, but in Germany almost one in every 15 beers sold is non-alcoholic, showing what a huge part of the country’s culture that beer plays. As a result, the country’s brewers are fantastic at making them and the quality and flavour speak for themselves.”

The new Hofmeister Ultra Low has lots of sweet grain, fresh grassy hops and bready notes that come together to create a good crisp finish. “There’s still plenty of body in the beer – it’s not remotely thin or unsatisfying. The only sign of its strength is an extra hint of dryness – a soft cream-cracker-like note that might even make it even more drinkable, if anything,” said Chambers.

As to how the brewery reduces the alcohol to just 0.5%, Chambers said: “They won’t tell us!”

The two new launches are the latest steps in Hofmeister’s return to the UK beer category.

New hires add to strong Hofmeister team

It is not just the pubs, bars and specialist retailers that want to be part of the Hofmeister relaunch story, but the quality experienced drinks executives who have signed up to become part of the new Hofmeister team.

Joining Longhurst and Chambers on the Hofmeister board last year were former brewery and pub chiefs, Euan Venters (ex-managing director of Greene King’s brewing and brands) and Kim Francis (ex-managing director of Ei Group pubs).

They have now added more senior beer industry talent with the arrival of Jim Harling, the company’s new Sales Director who comes from a craft beer background having been part of the senior management team at Camden Town Brewery; and Richard Boyles, who is heading up Hofmeister’s off-trade sales, who also joins the business after a long career at Heineken.

“We are very excited to have such experienced senior beer talent wanting to join the Hofmeister team,” said Chambers. “It shows how far we and the brand have come in such a short period of time and the faith they have in how far the revamped, rejuvenated and re-energised Hofmeister can go.”

*Hofmeister Helles was voted world’s best lager by the International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2018, becoming the first lager in its history to be given five stars in the competition.