The helles beer hails from Germany; starting out as their version of a Czech pilsner. You can expect a characteristically pale golden colour, with less hops and gas and plenty of maltiness. Some would say there is a bread-like quality to the helles flavour. Typically, a helles beer is stronger than a pils; expect around 5-5.5% ABV. The helles family is quite extensive and you can explore the range at Beers of Europe.

Steeped in history, the helles is bound to become a firm favourite, if it isn’t already! Helles means ‘bright’ in German and this is indeed, a style of beer that has a bright, crisp quality. A unique yeast variety is employed in the brewing process that distinguishes the helles from ales. Helles lager yeast is bottom-fermenting and the brew is kept cooler during fermentation. A filtering process prior to bottling a helles produces beers that are usually clear, however a number of breweries have from time to time produced an unfiltered version. A helles should traditionally be served in a wider glass, similar to the British pint glass. There should be no head on a helles lager. 

As well as simply enjoying your helles beer on its own, there are some very excellent pairings to be had. Due to that delicious maltiness, bread is a natural bed fellow for the helles lager. With its low alcohol content, this makes for a fabulous lunch combo with a ploughman’s or picnic. Equally, this works well with a platter of cheeses, and light nibbles.

There are many very well known examples of helles, such as Löwenbräu, Paulaner, König Ludwig and Augustiner. The helles no longer hails just from Germany and with Beers of Europe, you can explore the world of helles; from Australia to Mexico, and Lithuania to the good old United Kingdom.


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