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 Reidrover
2.71/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz single from "Lifesource" Salem $1.89 Clear corn oil yellow beer with a goodly sized frothy white head. Buscuity,cardboard,wet grass aromas..rather like a typical macro. Taste is quite malty but has a astringency that seems out of place ( and cheap beerish) Mouthfeel is average at best. Not impressed.. there has been some good lager type beers coming out of the PNW recently this is not one

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Photo of dreamincelestial
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

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Photo of vladdswrath
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.

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Photo of primocarnerra
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This bad boy tastes like a Budweiser. If I want a Bud, I will buy a Bud, and it will be cheaper than this lager monster.

Okay, I drank the second half of my beer, and then had another, and I have decided this is just a bit better than Bud, but not super significantly. What's the deal with lagers? There must be someone doing something micro special with lagers ------- something unique and Brooklydish, artisanal, vegan, Earl Grey lager with a hint of mustard seed and smells just like Alaska --- that sort of thing. Anyhow, anyhow, I am into my third Helles Belles, and I am going to finish this and go down to the 7-11 and get a six pack of Bud Light and watch some NCAA Basketball. The wife is away, so it is a good day. I will finish the expensive Ninkasi (what's up with that name?) when I am sober.

Oh yeah, this stuff is a nice pale yellow, with a good 2 fingers of head and delicate lacing. It smells of light hops and has certain sweetness to it. I sense a little unripe pear and overripe grapefruit. The malt is balanced out by the light bitter hops. The mouthfeel is TASTY TASTY!

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Photo of stevoj
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).

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Photo of Lagerdetoro
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.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.11/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Two-finger cream-colored head. Light brown color with high clarity. Nice retention.

S- Noble hops, some sweet malts and the strange smell of meat. Quite odd really. Wheat finishes the smell off.

T- Some slight bitter noble hops that die off with the very sweet malts. Crisp.

M- Some bite, but fairly light with a reasonably dry finish.

O- Decent beer with nice drinkability but otherwise no standout qualities.

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Photo of vkv822
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into tulip snifter.

Pours a bright, clear yellow with a thick, foamy white head that dissipates relatively quickly to leave a thin foamy film.

Clean, malty biscuit with grassy hops.

Slightly sweet, cracker malt with light grass hop notes.

Medium body with active, bubbly carbonation and a fairly crisp finish.

Fairly simple, but good for a hot day, with a clean crisp finish.

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Photo of jwc215
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).

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Photo of Huhzubendah
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.

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Photo of Fatehunter
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.

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Photo of N3rdM3t4l
3.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into pint. Served at 50 F. No freshness date

A: super clear straw yellow, like a helles should look. About an inch of white head that fell to a thin cap of small bubbles. Small streams of bubbles coming from the bottom. It looks like a lager that's for sure.

S: Hoppy on the nose with a touch of sweet pale malts. The hallertau hops in this brew have the distinct noble smell that is a tad spicy. Smells like a good beer.

T: SUPER MALTY. None of the sweetness from the nose though. The hops hit hard too with a little spice and a little resiny note. In true Ninkasi tradition the hops leave a pleasant bitter on the tongue. I like this a lot, I like malty beers.

M: Medium bodied with a hint of carbonation that just tickles the tongue a little. Good beer.

O: I like it, too bad it's limited, good thing I got a 6pack. Not amazing but a well made beer that doesn't fall short in any category but doesn't excel in any either. I would gladly drink it again.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
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.

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Photo of tigg924
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.

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