Helles Belles | Ninkasi Brewing Company

118 Ratings
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Helles BellesHelles Belles

Brewed by:
Ninkasi Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by cbarrett4 on 08-28-2011

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 118 |  Reviews: 40
Reviews by MaltsOfGlory:
Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty nice one finger head into my standard pint glass. The head is completely white, as would be expected with the style. Pretty fluffy and pillowy looking, maybe even slightly creamy. Head retention so far is pretty good for a lager, I mean about two minutes have gone by and I still have half the head left, not bad at all for a lager. Lacing looks like it wont be too bad, but we will have to see for sure when I get to the bottom of the glass. So far the head is impressing me though. As far as the body, the carbonation looks extremely high and aggressive, possibly over carbonated here, even for the style. The body is slightly darker than an average lager, it may even lean more towards orange than yellow in color. Pretty damn clear and see through, but not completely see through, especially for a lager, this beer doesn't look like water. For a lager this beer is actually pretty darn good looking. The only real downside I see so far is the ridiculous carbonation, other than that it looks good. The head has died down, but it had a good run, and heck there is still a tiny bit of foam left on top of the body. Overall a pretty good looking lager so far, we will have to see how the lacing goes, but it's not a bad looking beer so far. The nose is very nice, really a great bready, calm, malt smell. It's for sure a rich malt smell, full of aroma, but it smells more like pure grain than it does overly sweet or sour, or any other crappy lager aromas. There are some sweet and sour smells, but overall it's just a nice malt smell. Slightly buttery on the nose, but just barely. Really not much at all in the way of hops, but hey it's a lager. Overall the aroma is very small, but that is the style. I would hope for a slightly bigger aroma, but what I am getting is nice. A touch more hops would be good too. I am right in between a 3.5 and a 4. I'm going to give it a 3.5 just because I'm not ecstatic about this beer yet, but let it be known that it does have a very nice malty smell, and it was close to a 4. Well the flavor is interesting, not quite what I expected. You get a very German taste up front, really just kinda punches you in the fast with "euro lager". I don't think I have ever had a Helles lager before, but if my guess is correct, they got the style pretty good. However, just because they got the overall taste profile of the beer right doesn't mean it tastes great. Now does it taste great? No, but it's a good beer, and tasty, it taste good, not great but good. Slightly bready flavor, but like I said, it's more what I would call German lager flavor, kinda hard to describe. Really not overly sweet or sour, really a great balance there. Not a whole lot of hops at all in the initial flavor, however after about 5 seconds after swallowing the beer I get a very noticeable bitterness. I don't know if I have ever had an aftertaste take that long to kick in, kinda impressive really. Yeah I mean there isn't much else to talk about, overall it's just a really nice easy drinking beer. Nice sweetness, but not overly sweet, and a nice malty, german, kinda bready flavor. I'm torn again here, between a 3.5 and a 4. I usually don't give lagers high grades, but I feel like this one did I good job, so I'll go 4. The mouthfeel is surprising, the carbonation is not nearly as high as I thought it would be, for sure on the lower end. I'm not necessarily "upset", just surprised. The body is pretty nice for the style, it's for sure light, but it has some girth to it, to the point where it isn't what I would call watery. The mouthfeel is surprisingly nice for a lager, they did a pretty good job there too, and the bitterness adds an element too. I was thinking 4.5 for a second, but a 4 is for sure high enough for the questionable beer. The drinkability is obviously through the freaking roof. A 5.1% lager with some character? You kidding me, I'll drink myself under the table with these things. Great drinkability. Overall this is a pretty good beer. I think kinda shocked myself with the grade I gave on appearance and mouthfeel, but dammit, this beer deserved it, taste and smell were the only two serious dilemmas, and smell I gave a lower grade, so I guess it all evens out. This beer is still between a 3.5 and 4 overall, no matter how you slice it. I'm going to give it a 3.5, just to balance the ratings out, but let it be known that it could have easily gotten a 4.

The appearance turned out to be pretty good. The lacing followed me all the way to the bottom of the glass. It was pretty damn thick to start out, but got patchy before too long. Like I said in the beginning, the head and body were both pretty nice, and so was the lacing. Nothing was "amazing" the body, head, and lacing all were good, but had a few problems, I think a 4 is fair for appearance.

 4,815 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of MattSlem
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 299 characters

Photo of tigg924
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
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.

 189 characters

Photo of Lagerdetoro
3.08/5  rDev -15.6%
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.

 357 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.54/5  rDev -3%
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.

 1,363 characters

Photo of Skabiski
3.57/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of dertyd
3.25/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Fatehunter
3.42/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

 204 characters

Photo of DOCRW
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of GRG1313
3/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of rfreed
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of AdamSkylar
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Uconnelmo
3.56/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Tolnik
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of n2185
3.99/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Beejay
4/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

 336 characters

Photo of hannaho
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a couple 12oz'ers of this last night at the Boise COOP... Finally getting around to giving it a proper review...

Pours with a decent white head... 3/4"... okay lacing and retention.... the brew is very clear dark golden....

Nose is pretty damn malty... almost too much, and I love malty lagers.. slight background of some spicy hoppiness.

Bitterness backbones the entire palate... but doesn't seem as clean as I would expect... maybe some hints of sulfur.. a bit of DMS.. pale malts come out swinging later than expected... the bigger grassy hoppiness is nice but is definitely "American"..

For a "Helles", it is too malty... but I dig it... Nicely done and I hope PNW breweries start making more "every day" lagers. Looking forward to Ninkasi's coming lagers.


I will buy this again and again.

 828 characters

Photo of BlueSpader
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Celebrator pokal. Pours a clear, light golden amber, Half finger fine white head with good retention due to active carbonation; lacing. Looks nice. Aroma of bready malt and yeast. Taste is nicely melded bisquit malt and light hops, a hint of citrus. Finishes a bit astringent and slightly sour, but with enough of the malt to pull it through. Light to medium bodied. This is one of my first Munich helles lagers, but if the idea was to give a bit of Czech hops kick to a nice malty lager, this is a nice job. Not too exciting, but seems to style and is enjoyable.

 577 characters

Photo of mikebu
3.22/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of IdrinkGas
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of akolb
3.64/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Mlkluther
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of OregonGrown7
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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Helles Belles from Ninkasi Brewing Company
3.65 out of 5 based on 118 ratings.
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