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York Street Helles: A Lager in Celebration of Marvin, Munich, Community and Bristol

Today Wiper and True are delighted to present York Street Helles, a Munich-style lager brewed in St Werburghs, Bristol. We’ve wanted to create this beer for a long, long time, but releasing it in the current situation feels like perfect timing. York Street Helles is testament to the impossibly hard work that our whole team has put into keeping Wiper and True alive and kicking during lockdown, and a tribute to the support we’ve received from our Bristol community. Not to be dramatic, but we truly wouldn’t still be here today without you and your orders; we’ll be raising a glass to our city tonight.

You can order York Street Helles here.

Wiper and True - York Street Helles

York Street Helles standing proud at our York Street brewery.

A Brief and Thoroughly Non-Comprehensive History of Lager and the Munich Helles Style

The world of lagers was originally dominated by the Pilsner, a style still regarded today as the most popular, widely drunk beer in the world. Originating in Pilsen in the west of the Czech Republic, the golden, perfectly clear beer was historically praised for its light yet gently spicy flavour; the result of local Saaz hops used in the brew. It remains adored today for these same characteristics; instant refreshment in a glass. Around the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Munich Helles - the style that inspired our new York Street Helles - was developed by German brewers to compete with the popularity of the Czech lager. Compared with the more hoppy Pilsner, the Munich Helles focuses heavily on malt, with the recipe designed to really foreground those instantly recognisable soft, moreish flavours.

For Wiper and True’s German head brewer Marvin, the Munich Helles was the beer he grew up drinking; the bread and butter of his beer world. Originally from Poing, a small town on the outskirts of Munich, the Helles is a strong part of his cultural heritage, and there’s nobody better placed to describe the majesty of the Munich Helles than our Marv. “It’s just the perfect beer; it’s still my favourite today. It’s never too much, and it always hits the spot.”

Canning York Street Helles

Socially distanced canning line operations for York Street Helles.

For Wiper and True’s German head brewer Marvin, the Munich Helles was the beer he grew up drinking; the bread and butter of his beer world. Originally from Poing, a small town on the outskirts of Munich, the Helles is a strong part of his cultural heritage, and there’s nobody better placed to describe the majesty of the Munich Helles than our Marv. “It’s just the perfect beer; it’s still my favourite today. It’s never too much, and it always hits the spot.”

Marvin’s Bavarian Odyssey

So how did a Master Brewer and Brewing Technologist from Munich end up as head brewer at a small craft brewery in St Werburghs, Bristol? It’s an impressive journey, that’s for sure. Marvin’s first experience of brewery life was aged fourteen, when the quest to save up for a new bike saw him undertaking a holiday job sorting through returned bottles for recycling at a local brewery. Bitten by the beer bug, Marv’s next couple of years were peppered with internships at various breweries near Poing, ranging from the commercial giant Paulaner to a small brewpub, to a garage brewery that would eventually turn into Giesinger, a large, popular brewery in Munich. During these internships, Marvin got to grips with every aspect of the brewing process, from the arrival of the malt right through to testing and analysing the finished product. 

With high school finished and a raft of successful internships under his belt, young Marvin was now firmly committed to a career in beer and wrote a letter asking for an apprenticeship to the large Munich brewery group, Sparten-Franziskaner-Löwenbrau. SFL is a serious operation with an annual capacity of two million hectolitres, filling up to 180,000 bottles an hour - pretty staggering (we fill around 800 cans an hour at Wiper and True). For three years he trained at SFL, spending three quarters of his time working, with one week a month spent studying at Brew School. Only twelve people a year graduate from this demanding three-year apprenticeship, and the celebrations reflect the size of this hefty accomplishment. Brauertag, or Brewers Day, is an all-day event in honour of the graduates, where Munich city centre shuts down for a huge ceremony. Parades, music and dancing take over the streets, with 3000 litres of free beer on offer for the public. Each graduating brewer receives a medal and a special commemorative stone stein glass carved with their name; Marv still proudly has his on display at home. 

After his graduation from Sparten-Franziskaner-Löwenbrau Marvin stayed on to learn for another year, before heading to the world-renowned Doemens Academy in 2014, a prestigious school for brewers, for another two years of full-time studying. By the time he finished his studies, he could proudly call himself a Master Brewer and Brewing Technologist - you can see why we wanted him and his expertise on the team! 

The Next Chapter: Bristol via Spain

Emerging bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from the world of beer academia and vast commercial-scale brewing in 2017, our Marvin found himself craving pastures new. The desire to work at the opposite end of the spectrum took him to a tiny Spanish microbrewery called Tyris, operating out of a small warehouse. Here he spent fourteen months working to step up Tyris’ processes and professionalise the operation, putting into practice the skills, techniques and approaches he’d learned during his four years studying. Within a year of being there, Tyris opened a brand new brewery, built from scratch, with a yearly capacity of 15,000 hectolitres; a serious achievement. In 2019, struck by love in the form of an Italian girlfriend, Marvin made the move to the UK. England was a mystery at the time, illuminated in glimpses only through the lens of Liverpool football team. For Wiper and True, Marvin’s arrival couldn’t have been more timely; our previous head brewer Will Hartley had moved onto new adventures after almost six years, and we were keen to level up our processes and efficiency at the brewery. Marvin’s expertise and experience made him the perfect man for the job, and he rapidly settled into life at Wiper and True. Speaking about his arrival in Bristol and thoughts on the city, Marvin says:

“Living here in Bristol I’ve realised the creativity and multicultural openness of the place. You can talk to anybody; just standing at the bar in a pub to order a beer, you can start a conversation. I feel lucky to be here. Bristol is also a really good city because of the community around beer; everyone loves it and defends it, like a shared football team. There are so many breweries in Bristol, but there’s room for everyone, with everybody doing something a bit different. Everybody supports each other. We’re a family, we help each other out. That’s what’s so important about beer.” 

York Street Helles

Ever since Marvin joined the team, we’ve been pestering him to take the lead on brewing a German lager, and we’ve finally pinned him down. His trepidation stemmed from the very different ways in which we brew beer at Wiper and True compared with the way traditional German lagers are typically made, as well as our equipment and process having notable differences. All our beers are unfined and unfiltered, which means they maintain as much of their natural depth of flavour as possible, whilst a traditional helles lager would be filtered to achieve maximum possible clarity. York Street Helles breaks with tradition and is an unfiltered lager, but apart from this, the recipe Marv developed for our brew-kit sticks very closely to the original Munich Helles style. Although this might look like a small variation, leaving the beer unfiltered has brought out its own characteristics. Despite being a lager from a very different heritage, this tastes categorically like a Wiper and True beer; thanks in part to our equipment, but mainly to the years of hard work are team have put into refining and perfecting our processes and approaches. We can’t quite put our finger on what it is about York Street Helles, but it’s categorically and firmly a beer that resonates with and reflects our ‘house style’.

Marvin and his Lager

One man and his lager

Ultimately, York Street Helles is all about that golden malty goodness. Two German varietals were used in the mash; a Pilsner and a Munich variety, the combination of which delivers a particularly delicious, well-rounded grain flavour to the beer; not too sweet, but rich and moreish. German Hallertauer hops are added to the kettle, introducing a very gentle, subtle flavour that adds a touch of intrigue, but really lets the malt bill do the talking. Munich yeast creates good body in the glass, pushing the malt flavours to the fore. 

In Germany, this style of beer is so popular that most towns traditionally brew and loyally drink their own recipe of Helles. Interestingly, while the beer has been maturing in tank it’s become easily the most sampled beer we’ve ever brewed, with word rapidly spreading throughout the team about its gloriously moreish flavours. Members of every department have rocked up at the brewery (socially distanced, natürlich) to get a taste of tank-fresh, malty bliss; it’s a good thing it’s canned up and moved out of sight! 


York Street Helles

York Street Helles is our tribute to the wonderful, loyal drinkers of Wiper and True who have supported us throughout this pandemic and in the now ancient-seeming years before it hit.

We hope that the residents of York Street, St Werburghs and Bristol will feel as proud to drink this beer as we are of Marvin and the whole team at Wiper and True. It’s a gigantic thank you to our whole community; the people who have supported us infinitely since we first began brewing. We hope you enjoy it.

Order York Street Helles here.