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Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier | Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla

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Aecht Schlenkerla Helles LagerbierAecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier

Brewed by:
Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla

Style: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
“Schlenkerla Helles” is brewed with fine Bavarian aroma hops from the area around the city of Nürnberg. It's lagered in century old caves underneath the historic Schlenkerla brewery and maltings. Schlenkerla Helles is boiled in the same copper kettles and bottom fermented by the same yeast as the historic Schlenkerla Smokebeer. Its subtle smokiness without using smoke malt makes “Helles Schlenkerla Lager” a unique representative of the classic lager beer style “Bavarian Helles”.

Added by rastaman on 09-29-2003

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Reviews: 373 | Ratings: 663
Photo of Beric
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving: Bottle into pint
Served: 20 April 2015

Appearance: Pours a mostly-clear light goldenrod color with a hue that sustains its deepness even around the edges. Huge foamy 2 finger head when poured that stuck around for a while and left some great lacing.

Smell: Sweet, bready notes from the malt and a solid assertion of smoke, despite not using any smoked malts directly.

Taste: A great combination of a helles and a Rauchbier, in my opinion. This Schlenkerla offering has the bready, crisp, semi-sweet lager backbone of a Helles with a soft assertion of the smoke that makes the brewery famous. This beer's smoke is a meatier smoke, rather than a campfire smoke- more like the Märzen than the Urbock.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium-high carbonation.

Overall: Another incredible beer from Schlenkerla, and one that could well serve as a softer introduction to the Rauchbier style due to its inherent smokiness, but a smokiness that is toned down compared to the true Rauchbier offerings from this brewery. Great beer.

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Photo of majorbase2
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden-straw color with a big foamy white head with good retention. Thin head still remains after 15 minutes. Good lacing. Lots of visible carbonation.

Aroma is grainy with grassiness and some floral hops. A bit of smokiness.

Tastes of smoke, grain, spices, and some light lemon notes. A little bit of metallic taste that fades as it warms. Definitely has some wheat beer characteristics. Pretty subtle tastes, but its all done quite well.

Mouthfeel is light bodied, crispy, with a tiny amount of resin which lingers on the tongue just a bit. Very easy to drink.

A very good lager with some nice flavor, and just a overall solid effort.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.75/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Deep Ellum in Boston, MA.

This one pours a light golden yellow, with a half inch head, and not a whole lot lacing.

This one smells like grassy hops, a bit of biscuity malt, and some light pleasant smoke.

This is a beer that probably could not be duplicated anywhere else in the world, as it gets its smokiness from simply being brewed in the same place as many intensely smoky beers. The lager yeast character is not very noticeable. There's a bit of light honey sweetness, some bready, biscuity malt, and some lightly herbal grassy hop flavor. This is a really cool and interesting beer, and definitely the best Helles I've ever had.

This is light bodied, with a crisp, and slightly smoky mouthfeel, along with a moderate level of carbonation. It's so drinkable and so tasty, and goes down really easily.

This is one of the best lagers I've ever had. It's so unique and tasty.

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Photo of TastyIsBeer
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good intro rauchbier, I'd think. The bottleshop owner told me that the way this one gets its smoke is they re-pitch the yeast from one of their other beers and don't actually have smoked malt in this one -- makes sense given the color.

If you are looking for a meaty smoke you'll have to go elsewhere, this is more of a good campfire smoke. Not overpowering, but definitely present. As with most decent beer, let it warm a bit if you are pulling it out of a typically cold fridge.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber, slightly darker than golden. Normal head volume, lacing and retention.

Light nose that is slightly sweet biscuit. Underneath is a subtle smokiness that is more campfire like in nature rather than bacon.

Light medium bodied, barely, with a texture that approaches smooth. Above normal carbonation with a bit of effervescence in the middle and a nice prickly burst in the finish.

The outstanding flavor profile is intense, a bit complex and very well balanced. It begins with a mixture of flavors that slowly separate into a mild oak like smokiness over a subtle sweet biscuit. In the middle, it becomes rather crisp and becomes dryer towards the finish. A slightly bitter smokiness lingers.

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Photo of mmmbirra
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as rich and full as the best Munich helles lagers are, but crisp and light.
Not a lot of smoke in the nose, but the smoke and sweet wood come through more on the palate.
Lighter take, with less alcohol, on a helles lager.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours golden amber with a slight chill haze than drops off as the beer warms. Fat white head of creamy foam and a a few stray bubbles coming to the top. Good retention and leaves some lace. Nose is subtle but there is a mild scent of grain that is a touch sweet, a faint bit of hop herbal and a lovely little bit of smoke in the background. Taste is pristine, no fruit or off flavors. Light sweet dry malt. Crisp and breaddy. Not very heavy but is the definition of paradox. It envelops the palate softly but not shyly. It is endless and has a breadth that you can barely stand it's so magnificent. No hop bitterness to spoil this truly lovely malt. The smoke enhances the flavor but does not present the palate with meat or bacon flavor. Finishes clean, malty with a touch of sweetness, and a most graceful hops herbal. Gentle, permeating and mild. Only as you are about to finish your pint do you notice a small and mild bitterness that develops over time.

Excellent and I would drink this happily every day. Clean, crisp, lightly sweet and full of enough flavor to keep you interested glass after glass.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear straw color with nice carbonation streams. The head is two fingers high and white in shade. With an immensely thick and frothy texture, along with excellent retention, it creates an aesthetically pleasing package combined with the streaks of lacing left on the glass. (4.25)

Smell: See, this is seemingly the opposite of the other Schlenkerla rauchbiers, which start off VERY smoky only to turn into their base beer. At first whiff, it smells like a typical helles - notes of cracker, white bread, and slight bubblegum dominate. And then the smoke arrives as a subtle suggestion...and THEN it fully coalesces with the helles base to create something great. (4)

Taste: The smokiness isn't as extreme as other Schlenkerla brews, as expected. It tastes mainly like a good helles lager, balancing notes of lemon, white bread, cracker, and even bubblegum initially. Of course, the finish brings a gentle smokiness in the proper tradition of this brewery. Combined, this becomes pretty much the best helles lager I've ever had. (4)

Mouthfeel: It has a nice fullness for 4.3% - it seems closer to 6%, but without the residual sweetness. That's a fantastic thing. It isn't bone dry, but I don't care. Nor is it spectacularly carbonated - again, don't really care. (4)

Overall: Well here you go, a fantastic way to introduce that special person in your life to the glory of Schlenkerla rauchbiers. Side effects include desiring constant Bamberg vacations, addiction to bacon, weight gain from bacon addiction, creating your own smoker, and burns from the crap job you did making your own smoker. (4)

4.01/5: Yeah, about that Bamberg vacation...

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%

A: Light straw gold with a small off-white head. Fantastic lacing.
S: Hard to make anything out. Makes more sense once I’ve started drinking it.
T: Particularly smokey, as in smokey bacon. Otherwise lemony and soft tasting with a light grainy flavour. Soft on the tongue and medium sweet.
O: Can not wait to vist Bamberg!

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier has a thick, crackly, white head, a hazy, golden appearance, bubble streams, rather heavy lacing, and noticeable tan specks suspended throughout. The aroma is of very sweet, biscuit barley malt, bread crust, and smoke, which dies away over a bit of time. Taste is of those elements, riding alongside some pretty significant smoke presence. Yes, you do picked up the smoked pork with this one. Mouthfeel is medium, and Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier finishes crisp, refreshing, and smoky.


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Photo of EmperorBevis
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You can tell that a lot of time and skill went into this brew.
Golden clear bodied with big foaming head that retains
Funnily enough my main problem with German beers is the uninteresting palate
but here there is a slight tea flavour, not at all out of place but a real complement

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Photo of Malt_Man
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

Served cold from 500ml bottle into pilsner mug.

A) Clear golden colour, lots of bubbles and frothy white head. Looks good.

S) Sour helles malt is more evident than the smoke, but it is definitely there at the back.

T) Opposite to the smell, the smoke is there first. It imparts a bitterness to the usual Helles flavour. You can tell that this is a quality lager, smoke or no smoke. Behind the smoke is a lovely sourish malt flavour.

M) Fizzy and oddly warming. Goes down easy, no nasty aftertaste.

O) Superb. So much going on here and at 4.3% gives the lie to the theory that high ABV always means more flavour.

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Original review of 4.51 on 8/24/2014:

Clear gold in color with a large, frothy, white head. Excellent retention and a fair amount of lacing. Clean looking lager. Subtle but pleasant aroma of bready malts and just the slightest hint of smoke. Medium bodied with low bitterness. Perfectly carbonated.

If you are a fan of lagers but are avoiding this beer because you don't enjoy the flavor of smoked malts, do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle immediately. There are no smoked malts used in this beer. The hint of smoke is delivered via the yeast and is barely noticeable. If anything, it rounds out the flavor profile and adds a bit of body.

Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable beers I have had in a long time. No longer will I keep walking past it and passing it up in the store. This might be the perfect BBQ beer to pair with grilled foods.


Edited on 2/10/2015:

I have had this beer several times now since my original review and I'm consistently impressed by it. Each time I pop one open it's like having it for the first time. A beer I could just drink endlessly. I'm increasing my ratings for taste, feel and overall for each as I really can't see this beer improving in those aspects.


Edited on 6/24/2016:

Well, I guess it's time for what is becoming my annual Schlenkerla Helles update. This latest edit comes after having it on-tap at As Is in NYC. This was my first time having the Helles on-tap (I have had the Marzen before) and it was outstanding. I'm increasing my ratings yet again for smell and feel. It's becoming apparent that this is my favorite beer in the world at the moment. Nothing beats it for me. It's so clean and the flavors are right on point. Easy to drink, yet complex and packed with flavor at the same time. Wow, wow, wow!

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Photo of smbslt
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%

An interesting twist to the style. The smokeless smokiness gives it a grunge, homemade vibe. This is probably not their best offering but it does make me want to keep an eye out for their real smoked beers.

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Photo of keithmurray
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a mug

Appearance - golden color liquid with white head

Smell - grains, honey, ash/firewood

taste - flavors are balanced here, you get that wheat/grain/honey sweetness normally associated with helles lagers and it is followed up by the burnt firewood flavor of the smoke, I like the way the smoke is integrated into the flavor, makes its presence known without being dominant

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, medium carbonation, honey sweetness upfront followed by the smoke in the finish, refreshing

Overall - this is a very nice Helles Lager, I love the integration of flavors from a traditional Helles lager and the smoke. I would drink this more often if not for the price tag. Recommended

Price Point - $5.69/16.9 oz bottle

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Photo of bentpages
4.77/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Interesting taste of subtle smoke paired with lager-style freshness. It's unique to create a rather light lager beer with so much flavor. Compared to the original "Aecht Schlenkerla" this is the best solution because you will be able to enjoy a toned down smoke flavor with a not so heavy beer. It is unfortunate that it costs me $5.99/bottle here in San Francisco, whereas it costs $1 in Germany.

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Photo of dcmchew
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours pale golden with a white one finger head in an Austrian mug, lots of fizziness.
Grainy smell, some faint wood, smoke.
Smoked biscuity malts, lots of grain. A little too lemon zesty, aside for some nice acidic apple. Grass towards the finish, then some unwanted metallic hops.
Light body, almost watery, crisp, almost refreshing.
Never had a smoked helles before, it was interesting, although with a few off notes. I guess Schlenkerla are really great at crafting dark liquid bacon, but this helles was a bit of a let down.

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Photo of Givemebeer
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Clear golden yellow with a huge frothy head with sticky lacing. Pretty beautiful.

S: grainy and grassy with a hint of smoke.

T: Biscuity, bready, grassy, grainy. Taste starts with the biscuity grass then switches to being a touch smokey before going back to a bready grainy grassy taste. complex and wonderful.

M: Light bodied, crisp, refreshing.

O: Its amazing that this beer isn't talked about more. It has great balance, it's refreshing, crisp, packed with flavor, and 4.3% abv. Doesn't get much better.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.4/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

(on tap at Brauhaus Schmitz, Philly - poured into a flared pils flute)

A: yellow gold, curious mild haze.... thinnish, fizzy head (unclean lines/faucet here?) - no lace

S: mild, blandish malt... light amount of phenolic smoke coming through... not particularly hoppy (just as an observation).... smells like a Helles, alright, just with subtle, flat aromas

T: vague clove phenolics.... only a light presence of smoke - was kinda curiously hoping for much more... not one particular element stands out.... blurry, flat malt and bready yeast flavors - seems "washed out"

M: quite light and clean.... not particularly effervescent... fine for what it's bringing flavor-wise which, if it were to have more flavor, it would need more body

O: was hoping for a bit more out of this, considering how wonderfully flavorful some of their other beers are.... the low level of smoke flavor wasn't necessarily a bad thing.... come to think of it, the last time I had a bland Schlenkerla on tap (the Lent beer) it was at Brauhaus, hmmm...

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Photo of Omnium
3.81/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Clear yellow with a finger of fizzy white head, no lacing.
S - Grainy, a little woody, lots of grain, dried flowers, a touch of smoke.
T - Slightly sweet malt, a little hop bite underneath, then the smoke comes in mid way, and doesnt overpower, its light touch but very nice.
M - Clean, crisp and light bodied. Very refreshing.
O - Good Lager with just a touch of smoke, I think it could use more, but its quite refreshing.

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Photo of JMD
1.59/5  rDev -59.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Smoked Helles Lager? This beer sucks. Smoke a porter. Smoke a stout. But a helles? Fuck outta here with that.

Look, i love german beer. I love Munich Helles Lager. I've been to Munich many times. Helles is a delicate beer that is often misrepresented and under appreciated.

That said, this beer sucks. The smoke over powers the already soft flavor of the helles. This was a drain pour for me

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Photo of Westler
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very interesting stuff. A clear, light Bavarian Helles with fine and firm head. The subtle smoke aroma makes this a unique beer. Much more drinkable than the Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Malty and satisfying finish, considering it’s relatively low alcohol level.

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Photo of FLima
3.61/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Light golden color with a thin head.
Mildly smokey aroma with floral and herbal notes.
Flavor of slightly smoked malt with its sweetness, nevertheless it is quite clean as a Lager should be. Notes of grassy hops and bread. Hints of minerals.
Light body with good carbonation.
Decent helles with an elegant smokey touch. But don’t expect bacon or any heavy ash smokness, and you will be fine.

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Photo of silverking
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pale hazy gold with a thin white head. Decent retention, excellent lacing.

S- floral, smokey, fresh cut timber. Very inviting.

T- hardwood smoke, biscuit, very subtle and elegant.

M- crisp, clean, refreshing. Slightly watery finish.

O- very nice.

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Photo of stella77artois
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle poured into wine glass.

A - A very pale yellow with a bit of haze. A fair amount of carbonation, seemed alive. ~ 1" head formed which stuck around. A bit of lacing left behind on the glass. Good looking lager.

S - Very, very unique. Up front, there's a sweet smell, almost like cinnamon. Not exactly what I search for in my favorite style of beer. Noble hops poke through slightly at the end, as does some mild malt.

T - I was apprehensive after the aroma, but thankfully none of that "cinnamony" aroma could be noted in the taste. Mild, slightly sweet malts up front, along with a slightly fruity, almost pear-like taste. Unique and enjoyable. As with the aroma, noble hops can be noted in the aftertaset. And as a good lager should be, very crisp and clean tasting. Slight bit of breadiness, too.

F - Good as Helles lagers should be. Enough carbonation for your fizz fix, and it's easy on the throat and tongue. Absolutely positively a session beer. It would be one in the future for me, but this stuff is expensive in my neck of the woods.

O - A solid Helles, and a good representation of the style. I still think there are better Helles', but this is absolutely worth a try. Crisp and clean with a mild fruity and hoppy taste, could be an excellent session beer. Highly recommended to lager fans.

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Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla
3.97 out of 5 based on 663 ratings.
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