Helles Belles | Ninkasi Brewing Company

41 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 116
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.

 289 characters

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.

 488 characters

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.

 1,097 characters

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.

 775 characters

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.

 577 characters

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

 427 characters

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

 397 characters

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.

 591 characters

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

 250 characters

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.

 973 characters

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.

 828 characters

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.

 392 characters

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.

 4,815 characters

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.

 711 characters

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

 322 characters

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!

 700 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Helles Belles from Ninkasi Brewing Company
3.63 out of 5 based on 116 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.