I’ll Ride That Orange Blossom Special

by Jim Lundstrom

I was in need of a nice, soft lager when my eyes were caught by a grinning skull dripping with something. And then the cheeky name – Fresh As Helles. By Samuel Adams?

There was a time in another century when finding a bar that served Samuel Adams Boston Lager in the bottle or, even better, on tap was a very wonderful thing. It was a beer to be savored. Jim Koch was a superstar in my book, one of the early innovators in the craft beer evolution/revolution.

And then, suddenly, there were so many more choices – so many beers, so little time. But you soldier on, sometimes forgetting the early ones who served as oases in the desert of homogenous American lagers. 

So, damn right I’m going to pick up a sixer of Fresh As Helles, a lager brewed with orange blossom. I guess that’s what’s dripping off the top of the skull? Oh, and now I see that its eyes are round slices of orange.

I don’t understand the marketing concept of skulls, but it worked on me, so shut up and drink!

I get a pleasant, slightly floral aroma. It is the nice, soft lager I was looking for, with a subtle final high citrusy tang that seems to elevate the roof of the mouth and put all the taste sensors on high alert. Yes, definitely a puckering finish, but relatively subtle and not exactly sour. It’s more of a dry pucker. Alum comes to mind.

But perhaps I’m being hypersensitive. The sensations I’m feeling are nowhere near as dramatic as sucking on alum crystals, and to imply such impugns the nature of this beer.

It went well with my meal of baked Brussels sprouts and red grapes. I went nuts with the cracked black pepper on the sprouts and grapes, setting my tongue on fire. Fresh As Helles is a happy antidote, or at least it puts a damper on the peppery assault.