Helles Belles
Ninkasi Brewing Company

Helles BellesHelles Belles
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Lager - Helles
Ranked #203
Ranked #41,642
3.63 | pDev: 11.02%
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Helles BellesHelles Belles
Reviews: 42 | Ratings: 128 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of mjohnd
mjohnd from California

2.69/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I was hoping for something like a rich, malty, yet eminently drinkable Bavarian Helles — only fresher because it’s domestic. That’s what I always hope for. I pour the golden elixir with vigor, as is my habit, from the bottle into a freshly washed and well rinsed Pilsner glass. Oh oh, the head is quite thin, with no lacing to speak of, and it dissipates quickly. A bad sign.

The aroma and flavor are malty, nearly on the money, just a bit thin. It doesn’t have that overly grainy taste that many domestic craft lagers have. The hopping is correct for the style, noble hops — spicy not fruity.

Yet something is seriously wrong with this beer. The problem, I believe, is the mouthfeel. Watery. The bubbles are too big. It’s not fluffy like a real Helles. Not what you want for this style. Disappointing.

Aug 15, 2018
Photo of Spikester
Spikester from Oregon

3.69/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear gold with one finger of white five minute head. Splotches of lace.
Smell is floral hops with some bready malts.
The taste is crisp clean floral hops with a balanced amount of malt.
Mouthfeel is light to medium with good carbonation. The finish is lightly dry and balanced.
Overall a tasty lager with a decent hop level.

Jan 27, 2018
Photo of pianoguy
pianoguy from Washington

4.11/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. No bottling info

Pours a hazy pale yellow body with a white head. Lots of visible carbonation but not very much retention or lacing.

Light aroma is mostly a Kohlsch/Marzen scent. Soda biscuit and grassy meadow. Not very prominent

Taste follows with a little malt. It's clean and crisp.

Moderate carbonation seems to fit this beer.

There was a lot to like about this beer. It's clean and very drinkable. It would be a good beer for after mowing the lawn. I will have this one again !

Apr 23, 2017
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Bottle

Pours a pretty nice clean/clear golden yellow color, pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice thick/creamy one-finger white head, which also leaves some nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, grassy/wheaty. The taste is malty, grassy/wheaty, nice little sweetness. Medium body. Overall, a pretty tasty brew.

Apr 19, 2017
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metter98 from New York

3.71/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is slightly hazy light yellow in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a short bright white head that died down, leaving a patch of bubbles in the center and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of grassy hops are present in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of grassy hops along with hints of bready malts. There is a light amount of bitterness and the grassy flavors linger into the finish.
M: It feels light to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink and has a nice amount of grassiness in both the smell and taste. However, the taste reminds me more like a pilsener than a helles lager.

Serving type: bottle

Aug 05, 2016
Photo of dreamincelestial
dreamincelestial from California

2.76/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Honestly not that impressed. First discovered Ninkasi from Dawn of the Red (one of my VERY favorite beers of all time), and this is way too light for me to even decipher from a Bud or Coors light. Disappointed tbh

Jul 30, 2016
Photo of ricke49
ricke49 from Oregon

4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clean as can be, but still with enough flavor to satisfy. I appreciate a local brewer creating a European variety, which can be enjoyed without wondering how long it was at sea, or sitting on a dock. Lager freshness so important! Grassy, with definite hop and malt presence. Refreshing as all get out. Makes me glad it's summer.

Jul 20, 2016
Photo of TX-Badger
TX-Badger from Texas

3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear light golden color with white head. Cereal grains, bread, and some hay on the nose; follows onto the palate. Light bodied. Finishes pretty crisp and clean. Nice summer beer.

Jul 06, 2016
Photo of Bulabeers
Bulabeers from California

3.89/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L: Pale on tap no head no lacing no bubbles streaming up
S: Spicy and herbal hops pale malts
T: Earthy herbal hops spicy hops but not too bitter they just carry the brew along with pale malts and a yeast element
F: Crisp well carbonated.
O: Nice full flavored rolling rock

Jul 03, 2016
Photo of mactrail
mactrail from Washington

4.02/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear, bright pale golden with a modest foam in the Affligem chalice. Pleasant aroma of honey and the pollen smell of fruit trees blooming. Fragrant with soe kind of European hop that is perfumey with just the slight hint of a skunk. Tangy and spritzy on the tongue. One gulp invites another.

The honey taste is distinct to me. There's just a whiff of the Kölsch style of perfumey hops. I didn't have a cheap lager to compare this too, but the Ninkasi tastes both crisp and complex. The lingering honey malt flavor reminds me of a Blonde Ale, but the crisp lager taste makes this better. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at the Community Co-op in Bellingham.

Jun 10, 2016
Photo of Lagerdetoro
Lagerdetoro from California

3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Not to waste a lot of time: I cracked open a twelve ounce bottle, poured it into a pint glass, smelt it and sipped and drank- I finished it and cracked open a can of Rolling Rock- poured it into a fresh pint glass; smelt, sipped and drank. By Golly! The Rolling Rock looked and tasted better! At half the price. Surely, Ninkasi can do better that this.

May 28, 2016
Photo of Beejay
Beejay from Virginia

4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very, very, very pale yellow in color with a white head.

S: Very light aroma, crisp with light bread notes, and some light straw.

T: Light and fruity, with citrus notes and a slight earthy flavor in the finish. Lightly bready. Nice.

M: Light, crisp, and somewhat dry. Carbonation is medium.

O: Overall a pretty decent beer.

May 27, 2016
Photo of tigg924
tigg924 from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear, straw yellow in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is straw, grass, and faint honey. Nice light bodied sessionable lager. I have others I prefer in the style, but this is good.

May 22, 2016
Photo of biboergosum
biboergosum from Canada

3.54/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle - wow, I just did a Jude-themed review, and now one that is an ode to AC/DC? You can't see me flippin' the horns right now, but you can imagine it!

This beer pours a clear, very pale golden straw colour, with two chubby fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly bone-white head, which leaves some white lightning flashing across the sky lace around the glass as it quickly abates.

It smells of bready and doughy pale malt, white saltine crackers, aged lemon flesh, a hint of earthy yeast, and grassy, herbal, and slightly skunky green hop bitters. The taste is gritty and grainy pale malt, dried white bread, muddled acrid citrus notes, some tame Euro gasohol, a still wayward son yeastiness, and more herbal, weedy, and yup, skanked-up hoppiness.

The bubbles are adequate in their lifting and parting frothiness, the body a decent medium weight, and more or less smooth, the nature of the hops not of the douchey, interfering for no reason sort. It finishes off-dry, just, as the robust cereal malts continue to parry the lingering tainted green hop astringencies.

Overall, this seems to be striving a bit too hard to attain a mixture of Continental pils/lager 'character'. The petrol, yeast, and skunkiness are certainly all familiar notes, but, c'mon, dial it back, because as it stands now, they're taking me down and dragging me around.

May 11, 2016
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84 from California

3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

5.3% ABV per the label.

Pours a hazy lazy yellow with a foamy off-white head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of grain, earth, grass, hay, and slight skunk aromas. Taste is much the same with grain, cracker, and grass flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is smells decent, but the taste on this one is slightly better.

Serving type: bottle.

May 05, 2016
Photo of jwc215
jwc215 from Arizona

3.31/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle:

Pours dull, hazed, yellow with a thin head that becomes a wisp. Minimal carbonated bubbles rise to the top. Some trailing lace sticks.

The smell is of yeast, hay, some lemon. (Too yeasty).

The taste is of yeast - sweetened lemongrass. A bit of a chalky dryness in the finish.

It's pretty smooth and appriopriately light-bodied.

In the end, it's not "bad" - but it's too yeasty for what it is. It has potential - but needs better filtering (IMO).

Apr 13, 2016
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BeerBobber from Nevada

4.01/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear golden color with a thin soapy white head that disappears quickly and a hell of a lot of carbonation.

Typical malty smell that has that bready odor and a faint smell of hops.

Taste follows the nose with some lightly sweet malt with some peppery beer playing across mid tongue. Just a hint of hops up front.

Mouth feel is light and has a very crisp finish.

First off the ABV is off on here because it is listed as 5.10% and on the bottle they list it as 5.3%. This however is a moot point. What we have here is a very light and crisp finishing beer that is full on flavor. This is my first beer in this style and I am very impressed. Being a pilsner lover this style is very similar if this beer is any indication of the style. Maybe minus some of that extra hoppiness of the pilsners.

Apr 04, 2016
Photo of dmnota
dmnota from Illinois

4.04/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brilliantly clear, pale and golden. White head quickly dissipating to lacing across the top. Banana, water from a garden hose, slightly sweet, little in the way of hops. Brightly carbonated but easily drinkable. Too dry to be a go-to thirst-quencher. Great for the style but a little disappointing personally.

Mar 30, 2016
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vladdswrath from Washington

2.82/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear yellow gold with little if any head. Smell is dull and grainy, not much going on besides sweetness. Taste is much better than the previous two categories, but still fairly dull in the scheme of things. This is like a improved version of the usual commercial american lagers, although it still isn't anything I would actively seek out. (and to be fair, lagers in general aren't really my cup of tea. Mouthfeel is fairly light, although again, a little beefier than your typical commercial lager.

Mar 29, 2016
Photo of Fatehunter
Fatehunter from Oregon

3.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thin head on a clear golden body.
The aroma is straw, grain and a little metal.
The taste has mild bitterness, then a longer sweet finish.
The texture is crisp and fizzy.
A sweeter lager but good.

Feb 25, 2016
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SportsandJorts from Virginia

3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: pours a dull straw yellow color. a finger or so of a white head with weak retention and leaves behind little to no lacing. crystal clear and with a strong brightness.

Smell: bready and slightly sweet grain. light floral to peppery hops.

Taste: opens with a little bit of hop bitterness and a lightly floral taste. malts take over with a light breadiness and quite a bit of grainy sweetness. some peppery hops on the back end. some light sulfur in it.

Mouthfeel: nice light bitterness. could be a little bit more crisp. mostly clean finish. nice and light.

Overall: a nicely done Helles. nice clean and crisp flavors, good balance. some minor flaws in appearance and elsewhere though keep it from being in the upper tier.

Feb 13, 2016
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stevoj from Idaho

3.01/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from the Co-op. Incredibly dull pour, absolutely lifeless. Light grain aroma, hoping this gets better. Taste picks up a bit, mildly tangy mouthfeel and finish. Body is OK, but overall ruined by the initial presentation (aroma and look).

Feb 13, 2016
Photo of OrestesMethuon
OrestesMethuon from Montana

3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Furious bubbles course up through an extremely pale, pallid, straw-gold limpidity. Good wet-straw, grain-husk, and yeast-fruit aromas. Big grassy taste; very soft lemon-sugar and grape-fruit pith, with good carbonic and super-extra-dry-malt bite. Bit of a sticky mouthfeel, but it's mild, and overall the textural impression is refreshing.

Very true-to-style—but maybe too much, to a certain extent, as it's very much just bubbly, grassy bite, mild malt, and thin thirst-quenching. Those descriptors don't sound bad, but I wanted just a little bit more from a Ninkasi product. Their Venn, for instance, is a bit better beer in a similar weight-class.

Feb 12, 2016
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

3.32/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Clear, pale yellow body with a small white head. Rain, German lager aroma. Classic flavor. Thin body, with a hint of tangy hops. Easy drinking, though not on par with the standard German examples.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of MattSlem
MattSlem from California

3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I don't think this one gets the credit that it deserves. Fantastic representation of the style, eyes closed, I would have guessed that this was from an old world brewery. Ninkasi's lagers (Prismatic Series) are on point, hard. Damn. My only criticism is that I get a faint astringent alcohol note.

Jan 22, 2016
Helles Belles from Ninkasi Brewing Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 128 ratings