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Velas Helles - Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

Not Rated.
Velas HellesVelas Helles

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75 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 75
Reviews: 32
rAvg: 3.27
pDev: 19.27%
Wants: 0
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant visit their website
Tennessee, United States

Style | ABV
Munich Helles Lager |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-06-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 75 | Reviews: 32
Photo of chiefydawg
4.28/5  rDev +30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks again skully...
This seems to be the same beer as the Calhoun, which strangely has a higher average. A C+ for a GABF gold? Let's see...

Very clear yellowish-gold with thin white head. Decent carbonation to style. Some lacing. Admittedly, I poured it like a sissy; but nothing too impressive to look at. However, it is light, clear, and with white head at least.

Fragrant Graininess. Malty cereal sweetness. Underlying German hoppiness. Clean and elegant in it's light malty simplicity. Love the scent of this beer first to last sip! It is how I imagine Germany's best would be on their home turf or if the elements that be did not skunk the stuff sent to the states. Technically, it smells like a Bock yeast.

Crisp yet malty. Fresh raw pretzel dough. Some spicy, woodsy hop spiciness. Tastes hoppier than the malty smell (which keeps inviting me for another drink). Some lightly fruity honey. Malty without being sweet sticking to the breadiness. Warm sourdough biscuit center Pils with some balancing, spicy tang keeping it all in check.

Overall, this is one hell of a balanced, clean, grainy, hop-appropriated Helles. Some stickiness to the very end; but like the Pils (which I recall has a lot in common with this) it is a pleasant aftertaste. Should it cleanse the palate totally? I don't know because I have never been to a Deuschland Biergarten drinking the Bavarian greats, but I like the un-American-light-lager-residual. This would go nicely in one of my Corny kegs!

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.53/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep yellow body with a soapy, sudsy, white head.

Smell: An unassuming nose, smelling lightly of German malts and notes of floral hops and honey which come together to convey a slight honeysuckle scent.

Taste: A taste of Pils malt layered with a coating of sweet-tasting honey. Small hint of bread dough. Faint floral hop character kindly imparts no more than a light bitterness. A bit of honeyed sweetness remains on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Velas is a tidy, tasty, refreshing Helles that's quite drinkable.

Photo of ThaBobfather
3.42/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a solidly translucent golden color with a few thin ring of whiteish head.
Smell is strongly of yeast and some bread.
Taste is actually a smidgen complex, it has a strong grain, banana bread flavor that transits into a yeasty finish.
A light grainy after taste with a little malt flavor gives it an ok finish.
Drinks solidly as it is intended to.

Photo of EarlNobdy
3.78/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'm a Lager Guy. Given the choice as to what single beer I would drink on a desert island for the rest of my life, I would probably have to say the Velas Helles Lager from the Smoky Mtn Brewery in Gatlinburg, TN. This was the beer I grew up on as a beer drinker. Imagine Thom as a younger man taking a year's leave of absence from college. He heads back South and moves back in with his mom and dad. And after dicking around for about six months, his mom finally tells him he needs to get a job. So he goes into the first place that has a Help Wanted sign on the door, which happens to be an Italian Pizzeria (though in the South, such a place is pronounced Eye-Talian, just so you know.)

Drift with him if you will, through six more months of waiting tables and counting tips. Smoking joints out back with the cooks and overall gaining a full-body hatred for the food service industry which makes his decision to return to college the next semester a no brainer, and is just as his parents had hoped it would be when he initially made the announcement he was taking time off from school. Nothing is more sobering than sobriety. And the Real World comes crashing down like a ton of bricks. Young Adults of the world, stay in school as long as you can. Earn as many majors and degrees as the time and money will allow. Become a professor--do whatever it takes to avoid leaving those ivory towers and hallowed halls until the gravy train absolutely 100% runs out of road.

The one shining light in that entire six month experience was that after I got off from work each evening and punched the clock and hung up my apron, there directly across the street, blazing like a beacon in the night was the Smoky Mtn Brewery. And glory halleluia their Last Call wasn't for another two hours.

Now, kids, I know I just gave you the advice to stay in school and all, but upon second thought and careful consideration, I'm also going to give you the much sounder advice to not listen to a single word of advice that I ever offer you. Because I could stand here and tell you not to drink to excess or to smoke (at all), but what good would that do? It's not like I ever listened when someone who had been there and done that was trying to stop me from making the same mistakes they made. I wanted to go out there and make the mistakes for myself. I had to. How else was I ever going to learn what not to do the next time. That is if I ever managed to make it through my youth. Which I did, miraculously, and I'm here to tell you the larger part of our survival is pure bald-faced luck. But then again there's no reason to stack the odds against you if you don't have to.

All of which is to say that this was back when they still allowed smoking in bars. And what I did was I smoked like chimney. Which, I'm not proud of. And which I'm not entirely ashamed of, either. I have since quit smoking, only recently, actually, and am to date some 25 weeks clean of that demon weed. Though not a day goes by that I wouldn't like to light up and be there at the bar of the Smoky Mtn Brewery with a 40 oz stein of Velas Helles there before me.

It's how I got through 6 months of Purgatory, and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it worked for me. It got the job done when I needed it most. And I mean, talk about the world staying the same while you're the only thing that changes. I blew through there like a blur. And the next Spring semester found me safely back in the loving arms of Alma Mater. But I'll never forget that taste. Anytime I'm back in town, I always have to swing by for a stein or two, or now that I'm a daddy, maybe just a pint or two with dinner. No more cigarettes. No more joints out in the alley. But the beer still remains. That's the one thing I haven't allowed them to take away from me.

"Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad, anyway." (The Catcher in the Rye, pg. 122)

And that's why I'm a Lager Guy. Not because I have no palette and can't appreciate anything except fizzy, yellow beer. I enjoy my share of hops and sours and fruit and funk, but when you get right down to it, food is a nostalgic experience as opposed to a collector's or academic one. Eat what you like. Drink what you like. Lager-ists (lageristas?) appreciate the subtle nuance of form. We don't need big bold bombs going off in our mouths or extreme heat ABV to get us into bed. Bring us the graded shades of taste, and we'll supply the rest.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.08/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A solid pour into my 25cl glass yields a billowing, initially four-finger thick, pale, off-white colored head. The beer is a clear, gold copper color that shows an almost brilliantly clear, lighter version of the same color when held up to the light. The aroma is a mix of herbal honey malt notes, a touch of grassiness and a lemon herb hop character. There is a touch of grassy grain in the finish as well. This has a fairly nice aroma for a Helles that is pretty spot on for the style (except for that herbal honey note perhaps).

This beer is dry tasting up front, with an almost tart note that lingers into the finish. There is a light bitterness that mingles with the tartness in the finish; the tartness seems to be just a bit more noticeable than the hop bitterness though. The beer is also a bit over-carbonated, which is why it started to foam up as soon as I popped the cap, the effervescence is a bit too much for this beer to stand up to, but luckily this is easily remedied. A touch of tart green apple flavors up front seem to be what the herbal honey notes in the nose have turned into. This is quite light bodied, though not out of style.

The tartness in this beer is quite light, but it is distinct, this would certainly point to an infection of some sort (the over-carbonation could be a sign of this as well), and it certainly does take this beer out of style. As the beer warms up the honey notes in the nose start to take on a bit more fruitiness. Not bad, but certainly not what I was expecting or hoping for; in many ways it reminds me of a Berliner Weiss, it is not quite there though as the sourness would need to be a bit more gripping. Actually if this was labled as a Berliner Weiss I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more as it does have a nice, clean tartness to it.

Photo of atsprings
2.88/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a Lucifer tulip pours a crisp pale gold with a thin diminishing off-white head. Aroma is just a trace of sweet malts. The taste is a slight amount of sweet malts and and just a hint of hops. The beer is light and crisp, but a bit on the watery side. This is one textbook mediocrity.

Photo of witster18
2.18/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

First know that my previous review was extremely positive...B+ I think.

I had to come back and review this beer because SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED....either I got a bad keg or this one has really gone downhill in that past 2 years.... one or the other...

unlike the last growler this was VERY flat....
the last one had less of a copper hue...
this one was VERY winey and overly sweet
the last one was crisp and refreshing and virtually no strong alcohol bite to the flavor..
the last one was one of the better Hellas styles I'd ever had....
this one was flat out TERRIBLE!

NOw...I would have dismissed it and not written another review if it weren't for the fact that I filled this sucker AT THE BREWERY!!! OUT OF THE BAR KEG!!! so there were NO excuses!

Next time I go back I'll revisit a pint just to see if it was a bad keg or if this thing has truly fallen off the 'good beer' map....

note to brewer
I always enjoyed my trips to Gatlinburg... Playing a game of Adam's Family Pinball and picking up a growler of your Hellas were two of the biggest reasons...
take it from someone who's drank alot of your beer.... the last growler was embarassing.
Before I buy another I'll have to taste it first. Here's to hoping something just 'went wrong'.

Photo of PorterLambic
3.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Arrived at the table a dark yellow with negligible head, just a ring, really. No lace left behind.
Smell is just hops and light malt, nothing more.
Taste is malt, hops, a light yeast note, lemon. Malty aftertaste.
Medium body & effervescence. A solid helles but not a standout.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the Brewgrass festival in Asheville, North Carolina. Consumed on 09/20/2008 and reviewed from notes taken at the time.

The pour was ok, a light straw colored lager was the first thing noticed. Very clear with a nice amount of carbonation. This converged into a decent sized head of white that faded nearly immediately upon forming.

The aroma was light, very light, to be honest almost non existent at times. After warming it came around a little showing some decent grain and bread like malt tones and a touch of some light earthy hops. The flavor was more of the same, with the key word here being very light in the profile especially. Decent body on top of a mostly grain profile, with more then adequate carbonation making up the bulk of this. Easy to drink I will have to admit, though the flavor was a bit too thin for me at times, it was still more then decent overall.

Overall not a bad little lager, though the subtleties were severely lacking it was still fairly decent. I would see no issue with throwing this down on a hot day, though I am sure there are much better lagers out there for sure. I am not really sure what to take away from this one as it is a hard style to really having any different in but I still feel even given that this is barely above average in any regard.

Photo of Misfit138
3/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into my Sweetwater Blue pint glass.

A- Fizzy yellow beer with minimal head, that did manage to leave lacing along sides of glass.

S- Mild malts with hints of hops

T- Mild malt and grain flavor, maybe a a slight tart finish

M- Light body with fair carbonation

D- I would say its about like a typical mainstream domestic lager beer, but slightly better than most. Its not my favorite style, I was impressed with the porter that Smoky Mountain Brewery made and took a bottle of this home as well just to try. I think its a good beer for those that don't stray far from the Miller Lite and Coors kind of beers.

Photo of nem2006
3.45/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Came out a clear, pale yellow with a slight head and medium carbonation visible.

The nose was sweet with floral notes. You can definitely catch the hops.

The taste was smooth and sweet. It almost tastes like a white grape juice, in my opinion. For a lighter beer I would say it was quite flavorful. I would take this over any main stream light beer any day.

Photo of meechum
3.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this as part of the sampler. Sample of 5.5 oz I thought was enough to review. Has a lighter than normal color for a Helles and little to no head with no lacing. The taste was good with a nice malt character to it..some biscuit with a bit of a nutty taste also. Hops were very underwhelming but left a bit of citrus finish.

Overall it's a good beer and certainly better than any macro you could get a hold of but nothing special

Photo of TheBierBand
3.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My third beer at the Pigeon Forge location.

Arrived in a pint glass with a thin cap of bubbles. The color was lighter than any Helles Lager I've ever had. I would call this a dark yellow.

The scent was hardly there.... just a faint lager smell, but more robust than any macro out there. Was there some lemon citrus in there?

Taste: Not much going on here. Faint malt, non-existant hops, and that lemony twinge.

Mouthfeel: Nice and refreshing... but a bit too fizzy for my taste.

Drinkability: A good summer-time beer. Although, the carbonation detracts from this beer.

Photo of Beeryce
3.27/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle that my sister brought me from a trip she took.

White head is average with decent retention, produces no lacing. Very pale straw yellow color and crystal clear with slightly higher carbonation level.

Nice citrus nose, that fades quickly, with a clean maliness behind. The aroma of untoasted pale malt continues to develop with time.

Much more complex and full flavored than I anticipated. The taste starts slightly sweet with a touch of citrusy hops. Then the hops bite, with some spice, and cut the sweetness to reveal the overall maltiness; which is very raw in character.

The mouthfeel is thin, very suiting and finishes a little dry.

Drinkability is high as the beer feels light but is very flavorful.

Photo of Tuey13
3/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at the brewery in Pigeon Forge. The bartender told me this was comparable to Corona although I thought it had more flavor and was a bit fuller in body than a corona. Has a light golden color with a small white foamy head that was gone rather quickly. Has a faint aroma with a bit of citrus at the end. The taste was very light and sweet with a bit of malt and hops but nothing overpowering. This could definately be a session beer or one to drink on a hot day of doing yard work. But still it is just an average brew compared to the brewery's other offerings, but still a nice fizzy refreshment at the right time or to give to someone that might be scared off by a heartier brew.

Photo of veech
3.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

This is a beer that I feel the brewmaster intends to mimic a Corona for the macro crowd. It is much better than a Corona, but I do see tourists drink this with a lime, which is not required. It has a standard straw yellow look with low carbonation and thin head. A very mild aroma that hints at a very mild sweet grain nose. Taste has a smooth grain accent with the lightest touch of hops on finishing. Mouthfeel is thin and somewhat watery. Drinkability is big as it seems to quaff better with each successive pint. Not my first nor second choice from this brewpub, but a pretty nice option in warmer months. This beer has been watered down to appease the masses as it had much more character and taste when it was first brewed (Gold medal Helles at the GABF in '99).

Photo of Enola
3.22/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is very light in color. There is a small head. The smell is very slightly of hops. The taste is pretty bland with few flavors showing up. The mouthfeel is pretty smooth and a little bit oily. The drinkability is good. I could session this beer no problem. Not a bad beer, just plain.

Photo of wcudwight
2.07/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Pours the color of any BMC. Might as well be Bud, Coors, Miller, PBR, or the Beast in my glass. No head, no lacing.
Smells of buttery corn
I really don't see how you could call this any other style, other than American Marco Lager. It's your pretty much run of the mill BMC beer. Taste is of corn and rice.
Very light bodied and watery.
So far this is the worst that I have tried from Smokey Mountain Brewery. It could be a lawn mower beer. But, if that's what you want why not go to the local grocery and get the cheapest Macro in cans.

Photo of weeare138
1.15/5  rDev -64.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a hazy light gold. Some scattered, white lace.
Smell is of buttered rotton corn and other skank ass vegetables.
Taste is of sour creamed corn...blech!!!
Mouthfeel is of rancid, gross, sour malt that isn't impressing me in the least. In fact...it's sour and plain out gross!
F this brew! I hate it!!!

Photo of SixpointJMH
3.6/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad tasting brew at all here. It purs a Heineken-esque golden colour with a frothy head. The appearance wasn't what I expected and needless to say, was average at best.

The smell was slightly sweet and hoppy but had some grass notes to it as well. Again, pretty basic stuff here.

The flavour is very much in line with the smell, but more pronounced and enjoyable: hop, grass and some juiciness intermingle nicely throughout. The mouthfeel was right on with carbonation levels as they should be.

This one was fairly enjoyable, though not great, overall. Fix the appearance and smell a bit first (i.e. make them bolder) and they may be on to something here.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - light golden color with wisps of sediment floating around mid-glass and up, slowly spreading to the rest of the pint glass.

Aroma - caramelly and malty, but not sweet. Smells wonderful.

Taste - tastes buttery and lemony. Kind of a weird combo, like an English ale meets hefe/summer cooler thing. Curious mix, I'm really not all that banged up about it, but it's tasty enough that it's already gone...

Mouthfeel - smooth, buttery and full of carbonation.

Drinkability - while well crafted, the flavor is too lemony for my liking. Still, it disappeared awfully fast.

Photo of mntlover
2.88/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very pale yellow with small white head that falls way to quick. Aroma is light some malt some grassy hops not much going on here. Taste is a little more maltier then their pilsner maybe a touch more hops also but overall just as soon have the Thunder Road not much diffrence between the two. Mouthfeel is light and drinkability is ok goes down quick and is refreshing. This brewery is making their stuff to appeal to Bud drinkers. None of their beers are very taste intensive made not to offend anyone I guess.

Photo of Brent
3.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Perhaps the least personality of the beers I've had from this brewery. Very mild, with some malt caramel flavors. Hopping was modest, but the overall flavor profile was fresh and clean. Nothing wrong with this beer, it just really does not distinguish itself in any way.

Photo of Dogbrick
3.79/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to johnrobe for sending me this. The guy with the funny hat on the label is worth the price of admission. Billed as a "light German style lager" which doesn't really tell you much. Pours a gold color with a medium off-white head and mild effervescence. No lacing. Very light and sweet aroma of honey and even a little bubblegum. Very light-bodied with an unimposing hops flavor, with some malt and citrus as well. Finish is lightly sweet. Complexity is not a factor but this stuff is insanely easy to drink.

Photo of johnrobe
2.49/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Update 8/17/04: Wow! This brewery has gone steadily downhill over the past few years. Velas Helles was once a tasty, spot-on domestic Helles, but my last sample had a perceptible amount of diacetyl. Yuck!! Not undrinkable...but I can do better with my homebrews.

A straw colored, extremely clear brew with a densely knit white head that shrinks to 1/4 inch and leaves some lace. The smell consists of a pleasant graininess along with some herbal Saaz and/or Hallertau hops. The taste is slightly dominated by candy-like sweet malt but the hops appear nicely in support. The mouthfeel is a bit creamy yet light at the same time. Not quite as full-bodied as it could be, but I'm being nitpicky. It is billed as a "Light German Style Lager". The finish is very clean and the drinkability is dangerous. Prosit!!
The visage of Smoky Mtn.'s brewmaster, Marty Velas, appears on the label appropriately in traditional German garb. I guess if you're gonna put your name and face on the label, you're gonna make sure it's one tasty brew.

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Velas Helles from Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
76 out of 100 based on 75 ratings.