It was Zoom time again this week as I took part in a tasting of Lost and Grounded Brewers’ new Helles lager. And there was a chance to try some of their other beers, too, in the company of some of the country’s leading beer writers.
It’s funny, Annie Clements, co-founder of Lost and Grounded Brewers, recalls, how so many people start Untappd reviews of their lagers with the words: “I don’t usually like lagers, but…” Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but they’re not my first choice of beer. However, education is a wonderful thing, and a couple of hours spent in the company of Annie and co-founder Alex, and some experienced lager writers such as Mark Dredge and Adrian Tierney-Jones, has left me far more willing to embrace the L-word in everyday drinking.
Lost and Grounded was founded in Bristol in 2016 by Annie, from Tasmania, and Alex Troncoso, from the USA, who share a fascination for German and Belgian beers. Their evangelic enthusiasm has proved popular in Bristol and around the UK as they have built up a range of balanced yet interesting tasting brews, with Keller Pils (4.8% ABV) as their flagship. This week, however, they have added their first core beer since 2017, a beer they feel is a natural progression after four years in operation: a session Helles.
It’s a cracking beer, as we on Zoom expected it would be. Grainy on the mouthfeel, with herbal and lemon hop notes, it’s not too sweet. Tettnang, Perle, and Magnum hops have been added to a bill of Belgian and German malts, which contribute to a fine body. And at 4.4% ABV it’s nicely sessionable, although maybe more suited to a sunny summer afternoon than a wet and cold evening in February. It’s a proper German style recipe rather than a ‘modern take’. “We like to use a lot of traditional hops.” Says Alex. “There’s a reason why things work.”
The lager is unfiltered and perhaps, one day, we’ll get a chance to try it on draught, hopefully not too long in the future. For comparison, we tried that best-selling Keller Pils, the beer which really made Lost and Grounded’s name. You can see why it’s so popular. That little bit more oomph than the Helles, yet similar balance, although this time a little more hoppy and earthy. Lemon, again, makes its presence known on the palate. It’s really clean and refreshing.
Annie and Alex may take brewing seriously, but there’s a relaxed informality about their tasting, with their, and various other writer’s cats making on-screen appearances. They talk about their philosophy of brewing being as much about people as beer, and their delight at how well their beers have been received in those four short years. “We’re stupid proud of all our beers,” says Annie.
The Helles is available in bottle and can
The conversation takes in malt – “I don’t think you can make a lager out of UK malt”, opines Alex – and hops – Mark Dredge, author of A Brief History of Lager, says it’s more difficult trying to describe German hop flavours than those of their US counterparts. I agree. US hops are shouty and demand your attention. German hops are just happy to serve, and clearly take pleasure in doing what they do so well.
It wasn’t all about pure lager. We also drank Running With Sceptres (5.2% ABV), Lost and Grounded’s India pale lager, and Running With Spectres (see what they’ve done there? 6.8% ABV), their Baltic porter. I’d had the former before, at a beer festival, and it’s just stupendous. The collision of great lager with big IPA hop flavours. Crystal clear golden, piney, with orange citrus. And there’s Vienna malt in the mix, which, in my book, is never a bad thing. It’s become a core beer because of its popularity. “I think it’s important to have core beers,” says Alex. “It ticks the IPA box without being an IPA.”
Spectres, on the other hand is dark. And dangerous. And quite dry, smooth, rich, and complex. Oh my Lord, this is a gorgeous beer. “It could be a session Baltic porter,” says Alex, although I think you’d know it when you’d had a couple. Belgian malts are superb, but it’s quite low in roast malt characteristics. A proper porter, not drifting off into stout territory.
A great evening, in great company, brewers and writers alike. The beers are highly recommended and available at lostandgrounded.co.uk/online-store/. As I so often find, great people make great beers. “We are so passionate and we want to make a difference,” says Annie. They are.