Helles Belles | Ninkasi Brewing Company

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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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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 111
Photo of ricke49
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.

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Photo of dmnota
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.

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Photo of mactrail
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.

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Photo of BeerBobber
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.

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Photo of Beejay
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.

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Photo of cbarrett4
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass during Portland Mighty Mites small beer festival~

Pours a pale straw hue with some gold highlights, good head that quickly dissipates to a decent lace.

Very clean, fresh, and fruity on the nose. Not terribly complex, but appealing nonetheless. More complex on the palate with a faint fruity pebbles like cocktail of fruit flavors, mildly bitter German hops, and a fresh grassy note.

Light body but with decent texture and good grip, lots of acidity to cut through the fruity flavors and refresh the palate. The German hops and yeast definitely take over on the finish.

Very clean, very refreshing, and pretty darn good. Beware the 5.1% abv, it doesn't seem like it!

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

12 oz. Bottle
Best By: Sep 01, 2016
ABV: 5.3%

Pours a pretty nice clean/clear pale yellow color, nice carbonation, with a quick/fizzy small white head, which leaves minimal sticky lacing behind. The nose is pretty nice, malty, slight yeast note, grassy/wheaty, some citrus. The taste is pretty nice, malty, slight yeast, grassy/wheaty, nice citrus note. Medium body. Overall, a pretty nice thirst quencher.

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Photo of MattSlem
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.

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Photo of woemad
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle purchased at Main Market Co-Op in Spokane for $1.49. According to the label (which sadly features no freshness date), this is part of Ninkasi’s “Prismatic lager series.” This beer is apparently named for (besides being a Helles Lager) the all-female Ac/Dc tribute band that always seems to be playing somewhere in the western U.S.

Pours a shade of gold just darker than straw with an inch of bone-white foam that didn’t stay long but didn’t entirely recede, either.

Mild floral hops first greet the schnozz, with a few peppery notes mixed in for good measure. Further back is a faint, biscuity malt scent.

The hops arrive first at the taste bud beachhead, but they are soft and restrained. The malts don’t dominate the flavor much aside from giving the beer some backbone. A very softly dry note makes up the fade-out of this beer.

Fairly light bodied for something over 5% alcohol, with a very clean finish.

This makes for an outstanding summer beer – easy to drink yet still possessing enough hop flavor to give it character. I would definitely drink this again.

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Photo of Bulabeers
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

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.86/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a straw color with good carbonation and a nice white cap. This was a lively beer throwing off lots of bubbles and it looked very appealing

S: Some light fruit, grass, grains

T: A hint at grass, grains, lighter floral notes.

M: A medium body Lager which pretty coating, tasty

O: Clean, tasty and refreshing

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Photo of flagmantho
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: pale golden hue with a light effervescence and a touch of haze. Head is a thin layer of frothy white foam. Not bad.

Smell: light malt aroma with a nice sweetness and a hint of sour graininess. Not too bad.

Taste: mild malt flavor with a nice sweetness and a light but present amount of spicy noble hops. Bitterness is light but balanced. To-style and quite tasty; that sour grain from the aroma is absent in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: light body with a surprising carbonation given the mild effervescence. Quite a bit of creaminess comes out of this beer -- great!

Overall: this beer is quite decent. I was wary at first, but it turned out to be flavorful and fulfilling. Good stuff, I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of djbreezy
3.85/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - golden, with a nice frothy white head

smell - hints of wheat

taste - nice bright character of wheat, malt and hops

mouthfeel - medium/light body

overall - nice, refreshing flavor, good session beer, a nice change of pace from Ninkasi

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

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Photo of OrestesMethuon
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.

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Photo of corylew
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Bier One. Poured in a standard pint glass.

Looks like a pretty standard helles lager. Yellow, crisp and clear.

Smells like a pretty standard helles lager. Yeasty, bready, slight malt and hops but nose is dominated by the lager yeast.

The taste is good. Let's be honest, it's a standard lager but it does what it was meant to do. Be a lager. It's light, drinkable, and the small flavor it does convey is good.

For the style, the mouthfeel is perfect. Just enough malt to pack some flavor as you slurp it down while dancing to oompa music.

Overall, this is a good Munich style helles lager. If I were looking for one, this would probably be my go-to lager. I just don't look for one very often.

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Photo of TX-Badger
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.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated BB 4/2016:
Pours crystal clear and almost the palest of yellow-golden. Classic fluffy white head sustained by easily visible steam of tiny bubbles.

Nose surprised me a tad, bready initially but with an interesting little funk. Not sure if intended, but I liked it even though it seemed out of what I would think the norm - a review just before mine said meat and that might fit. I also get a little grass and some soft pitted fruit like maybe apricot in some sniffs.

The taste starts crisp, but has a white bread sweetness to it. I get a taste reminiscent of the strange smell but it is much more fruity floral in nature. I am getting just an ever so light grass and spice bitterness, mostly clean that almost brings the beer back to balanced.

Light, not as carbonated as I expected, little more heft than I expected, but my expectations were low.

That odd scent is the only weird thing, along with maybe not as much bitter balance or hop bite as I'd thought given what I read about the style. Fine easy drinker I wouldn't turn down again.

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Photo of metter98
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

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Photo of zagduck
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: looks like a Helles lager. Yellow with a white head

Smell: light hop aroma not much of a malt smell

Taste: this is where this beer loses me. Good light hop taste but really out of the style of a Helles. I gave it a 3.5 because it's good but not great and not true to the style.

Overall: I liked it and would probably order it again but as Bavarian style Helles are one of my favorites i was a little disappointed

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Photo of SportsandJorts
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.

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Photo of delta490
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Looks like they brought this one back. It's a pale gold it's a thin creamy white head. No lacing. The aroma is light grains and a little grass. The taste is the same but it has a little bit off. Hard to describe what but it's there and noticeable. The body is lighter, with a crisp finish.

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Photo of Flightoficarus
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

You've got me ringin' Helles Belles!...ok, on to the review :)

A - Pours a rich, clear gold w/a decent, white, single-finger head. Lacing is excellent.

S - Smell is of bready caramel malts, yeast, and subtle hops.

T - Taste is of bready malts, and honey, with lots of mixed grains, and balanced just enough from a subtle, grassy hops.

M - Medium bodied (especially for a lager), medium carbonation. Very sessionable.

O - Overall, the flavors here are a bit stronger and maltier than what I'm used to in a helles lager, but make no mistake, it's a quality session lager I'd come back to.

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Photo of biboergosum
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.

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Helles Belles from Ninkasi Brewing Company
3.63 out of 5 based on 111 ratings.
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