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Beer Reviews

Hawkers Lucky 13° Bohemian Pilsner, 5.4% ABV

 

Hawkers Beer represents a remarkable journey from the war-torn terrains of the Middle East to the colourful craft beer scene of Australia. Established in 2015 in the Reservoir suburb of Melbourne, Hawkers Beer was started by Lebanese brewer Mazen Hajjar, known for founding the first craft brewery in the Middle East called 961 Beer in 2006 amidst the chaos of the July war between Israel and Lebanon. He was previously a war photographer, investment banker and even founded a budget airline company.

 

(Source: The New York Times)

 

After running a successful business in Lebanon and exporting to over 20 countries, Mazen took a business trip to Australia and observed a gap in the Australian craft beer scene which he felt was lagging behind the dynamic American craft beer scene. Inspired by this potential, Mazen relocated to Australia and began with a grassroots approach to promotion – taking to the streets of Sydney, promoting from door to door with bags full of beer samples. This inspired Mazen to name his Australian brewery “Hawkers” as an homage to immigrant vendors who roamed the streets of Australia selling their wares from carts during the early days of the British colony.

The company rapidly ascended to become one of Australia’s leading independent breweries, expanding across Australian states and foraying into overseas markets, becoming available in UK supermarkets like Marks & Spencer’s.

 

 

This beer I’m reviewing is the Hawkers Lucky 13° Bohemian Pilsner that is apparently made according to traditional brewing techniques and ingredient lists. It’s made with Bohemian floor malt, Saaz hops and then lagered (matured in cold temperature) for two months. Whisky enthusiasts might be familiar with floor malt, but let’s do a recap for the benefit of those who aren’t familiar. Floor malt tends to be a bit more expensive than regular malt because they are made using a more effort-intensive method that involves spreading malted barley on a floor to germinate, during which the malt is then turned by hand to ensure even drying and germination. Only a small number of whisky breweries and beer breweries continue to use floor malt due to the belief that such malt provides a more authentic flavour.

Let’s give it a taste.

Hawkers Lucky 13° Bohemian Pilsner, 5.4% ABV – Review

 

Nose: Vibrant, fruity and aromatic. It opens with a sweet lemony citrus scent that oddly reminds me of lemon-flavoured car fresheners – though in a good way. The foundation is a fresh malty aroma, complemented by subtle toasted corn and nuances of bread toast. There’s some caramel and cereal grains, wrapped up in a light tropical flair of passionfruit and pineapple juice.

Palate: Crisp, fruity and refreshing. The initial attack is notably dry, quickly followed by a burst of sweet and crisp starfruit and green apple juice. A rather aromatic hop character for a pilsner, marked by distinct but not overwhelming pine and a fresh earthy undertone.

There is a backbone of toasty maltiness that weaves through the fruits, while a consistent, tingling dryness on the tongue is maintained throughout. Some barley notes along with a mild bitterness make a late appearance.

Finish: Swift and clean, primarily led by hops and barley, along with a light peppery dryness that lingers longer than the primary flavours.

 

My Thoughts:

The Hawkers Lucky 13° is a thoroughly enjoyable example of refreshment and subtlety in a beer. It perfectly balances that slight sweetness, crispness and pronounced malt character we love in a classic pilsner. The hop essence is also very present, adding a layer to the intricate flavours without overwhelming it.

This is really well done and deserves a high score for nailing down a great pilsner’s profile and nuances down to the T.

For Singaporean readers, this beer is available on Thirsty.com ! Search “Hawkers Lucky 13° Bohemian Pilsner” to locate this product.

P.S.: I’m sad to hear that a great brand like Hawkers Beer was recently declared to be insolvent and has entered voluntary administration (a process of repaying creditors). Let’s hope that the brand pulls through this difficult time and continues serving up brews one way or another in the years to come!

My Rating: 8/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie