The ingredients in Lhasa Beer are the same as those permissible according to the 1516 Reinheitsgebot purity law which still governs brewing in Germany; water, barley, hops, and yeast.
Our water comes directly from the ground at the site of the Tibet Lhasa Brewery Company Ltd. in Lhasa Tibet. It rises from the deep subterranean aquifers of the Himalayas and has been filtered for ages through the earth before coming into use for the production of Lhasa Beer.
Tibetans are the world’s largest consumers of barley. Typically a Tibetan farmer’s field is a mixture of hundreds of genetic varieties of local barley. In fact there are, at last count, 3395 different landraces (or genetic variants) of barley in Tibet, 95% of which are of the hulless type. The vast gene pool that can be within a single field gives a large range of subtle flavors to the beer. Such diversity also naturally protects farmers against a total loss of any given year’s harvest as there will always be some genetic strains present that will be resistant to whatever pest or disease attacks the crop.
The problem of brewing with barley found in Tibet is exactly because most native varieties do not have a hull. The hull which is found on all barley used in the normal brewing process serves a purpose. When the barley malt is put in the mashed tun and boiled the hulls come off of the barley and they settle to the bottom of the tank to form of filter bed. After boiling the liquid is called mash. When the mash is pumped from the mash tun to the lauter tun the filter bed takes out most of the sediment from what is now called wort.
Without hulls you cannot brew beer from the resulting wort as it would basically be like a thick soup. However on the negative side those same hulls can impart a bit of an unpleasant astringent flavor to the beer. Astringency is not the same as bitterness which is intentionally create by the addition of hops. Lhasa Beer uses just the right amount of native Tibetan barley so there are still enough hulls in the mash to filter out the sediment but not so many that they adversely after the taste of the beer. The happy result is that the beer has the traditional full bodied flavor of an all malt beer with no rice, corn or other grain fillers but it does not have any astringent taste to the flavor. This is what gives Lhasa Beer its exceptionally smooth finish.
Lhasa Beer is highlighted by the floral aroma of Saaz hops, the gold standard of aroma hops. They are one of the most celebrated hop varieties in the world and are classified as one of the four true Noble varieties. Their primary use is for its distinct mild spice aroma and mild flavor. The Saaz aroma can be described best as spicy, clean, classic and noble (a term that you just have to taste to understand, really.) Saaz hops are the defining element for the classic Czech Pilsner and Budìjovice styles of beers, and are a welcome addition to any light lager, pale ale, and even the wit style. With a Lhasa Beer you can begin to experience the beer from the aroma, even before the first delicious taste touches your mouth.
The yeast used in Lhasa Beer was originally brought from Germany when the brewery began in 1989. It is classic lager yeast which is cold fermented in the bottom of the tank as opposed to the yeast used for ales which ferments at warmer temperatures on the top of the beer. It is carefully managed and recycled for repeated use in the brewing process.