PICK YOUR POISON: Insomnium’s Helles Lager

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Bands, festivals and the lot are releasing branded booze by the dozens these days. Or people get inspired by bands and the overal metal, rock,… culture to create alcoholic beverages as a tribute. GRIMM makes it its mission to get to the bottom (of the bottle) of this trend with insightful reviews and extra backgrounds. So sit back, PICK YOUR POISON, and discover all you need to know about your favorite band’s alcoholic brands!

Poison Fact Sheet


Insomnium is one of the forerunners of the Finnish melodeath scene and for the beer-loving Finns, it came rather as a surprise to us that they didn’t hit us with a brew earlier. We actually talked with Ville Friman back in 2017 shortly after the release of their epic ‘Winter’s Gate’ album that they had been looking to get a beer produced to go along with the album, but ending up making one himself after they couldn’t find an available brewery (for the whole interview go here):

Well, originally we were talking with a Finnish independent smaller brewery about making a “Winter’s Gate” beer at the same time of the release of the album. And they were really interested but then all their production lines were in use, so we couldn’t do that. But this is the idea now: the beer is actually made by me. It’s kind of a project with my friend, we’ve been trying out on making your own beer. And that was the first try-out for a stout. Because we had the idea of making the beer somewhere after the release and then I just made the label and put it online. I think I still have only like 3 bottles left now, so yeah… the only people that have tried it in addition to me are my neighbors (laughs) so it’s very rare… exclusive… and won’t be commercial. But hopefully maybe in the future we’ll have official beer as well.

But now finally last Summer out of nowhere they came with their ‘Insomnium Helles’ beer, here is how we experienced it:

Tasting

When pouring the beer, we get a very clear and light looking beer with a yellow to golden color and a firm head of foam that lingers for quite a while. Taking in the aromas we get something malty, slightly fruity and sweet in the nose, not all that unfamiliar if you’re a regular consumer of pilsner and similar lighter beers. When tasting the beer, the flavors are perfectly what you’d be expecting knowing what a “Helles Lager” is all about: it’s clean with a malty flavor and an ever so slight hint of hops, but definitely not all that bitter. The beer rather has fruity or sweet notes, which is somewhat in the direction of for instance a pilsner but with less of the usual bitterness.

Overall, the ‘Insomnium Helles lager’ is nothing super exciting, but still a very pleasant beer to drink with for instance a pizza or some spicy dish, or of course at a (Insomnium) show. We can easily imagine having a crate of these and just hang with friends, knocking over quite a few of these brews.

Packaging

While the beer is light and rather bright, the artwork on the label is more what you’d expect from a melancholic band like Insomnium: a mostly grey label that shows the animal that fans of the band most commonly link with the band aplenty… there is a murder of crows/ravens crowding the sky around the old school Insomnium logo with one more on the forefront sitting on the handle of an ax that is wedged in some wood or a rock. It looks fittingly gloomy and even a bit foreboding maybe.

Besides the typical information (like beer name, alcohol percentage,…), on the back of the bottle there is a more extensive Finnish text to be found under the more modern Insomnium logo. Which is a rather melancholic poem about the sad thoughts one might have before opening a beer while being alone, and as good as perfectly matches with the description of how we experienced both the beer and the packaging: “Dark thoughts and a light/clear beer”, or like in Finnish: “Musta mieli, kirkas olut”.


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Review Scores


  • Aroma 7.5/10
  • Look 7.5/10
  • Taste 7.5/10
  • Packaging / Backstory 8/10
  • Originality 6.5/10
7.4

Overall, the ‘Insomnium Helles lager’ is nothing super exciting, but still a very pleasant and clean beer to drink with for instance a pizza or some spicy dish, or of course at a (Insomnium) show. We can easily imagine having a crate of these and just hang with friends, knocking over quite a few of these brews.

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