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: 382 | Ratings: 681
Photo of James954
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Clear golden with carbonation rising from the bottom
S: Small skunk that fades ...not much else
T: light smoke that reminds me of beef jerky, finishes with a taste that hints towards bacon bits!
F: Good carbonation but remains a little watery.

Overall: Just making a beer as unique as this is accomplishment enough. Not a favorite. But if you're looking to get a slightly smokey flavor and some unexpected notes of cured beef or pork, this is your beer!

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Photo of headlessparrot
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

What an unusual little beer.

Pours a pretty straightforward clear gold colour, topped by a solid two fingers of foam that recedes quickly to some islands but does leave a lot of lacing. Not a huge amount of visible effervescence.

Smells . . . meaty, smoky. Despite this being unsmoked, and really only just brewed using the same vessels/yeast (and stored in the same place) as Schlenkerla's smoked beer, the smoke flavour actually comes out in a big way, to my taste buds. Beneath that, a nice crackery/biscuity malt backbone and some decent noble hopping--greens, slight piney-ness.

Taste is more smoke. Like bacon fat or smoked meat more generally (as opposed to a woodier "campfire" kind of smoke). But beneath that, again: decent noble hopping and some nice malt spine. Fairly crisp in carbonation and nice moderate body--bigger than the ABV would suggest.

I almost don't know what to make of this. It's good, but there's a weird gap between the way it looks (and the style it inhabits) and the way it actually goes down. It's disorienting, but delicious.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.01/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a crystal clear medium golden yellow in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and faint hints of brassy highlights. The beer has a half finger tall sudsy foamy white head that reduces to a medium to large sized patch of thin film and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of bready malts and smoked malts (similar to the smoke used for smoking meats).

T: Upfront there are light to moderate flavors of bready malts with just a hint of sweetness. That is followed by moderate flavors of smoke and the finish has just a hint of herbal hops flavors. Hops add a light amount of bitterness which fades away pretty quickly.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Crisp and clean, smooth.

O: Light and refreshing with a light presence of smoke. Very interesting and definitely one to grab again - these guys make some phenomenal smoked beers.

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Photo of drmeto
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

-pours a clear golden with a small to medium,foamy,white head
-high carbonation visible
-grassy,floral,spicy,honey,very faint smoke
-spicy,grassy,metallic,faint smoke,zesty
-too hoppy for a Helles
-medium to high carbonation
-light body
Fantastic Malt Base.
The smoke is very faint,so non-Rauchbier Fans don't have to be scared about trying this.

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Photo of RBCIPA
4.95/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, this is a fantastic beer. Poured into a pilsner 0.5L glass, drinking on my back porch in the warm sun

A: clear golden. thick white head

S: malty, slight smoke but hard to tell if I can actually smell it or if it's power of persuasion knowing how this beer is brewers (see edit)

T: super clean, crisp, good carbonation, again slight smoke but see above(see edit), great malt taste

MF: full of flavor but light bodied

F: bubbly maybe slightly dry maybe

O: fantastic beer I'm very much enjoying this

Edit: halfway through this beer and smoke is for real. Very faint but it's there

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Photo of biboergosum
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

500ml bottle - so not actually made with smoked malt, but created in the same vessels and with the same yeast as their other products, so this should be interesting.

This beer pours a clear, bright pale golden yellow colour, with a thin cap of generally just loosely bubbly dirty white head, which leaves some splattered mitochondrial lace around the glass as things slowly sink away.

It smells of meaty campfire smoke, grainy, doughy pale malt, wet saltine crackers, a subtle earthy honey sweetness, and leafy, weedy, and mildly floral hops. The taste is bready, grainy pale malt, a lessened (relatively) smoked porcine meatiness, singed dark honey, a wavering crackery pithiness, and more earthy, leafy, and weedy noble hop bitterness.

The carbonation is soft and understated, but adequate for the supportive and tingly job at hand, the body a mostly solid medium weight for the style, and surprisingly smooth, the wafting cinders not really all that threatening, somehow. It finishes off-dry, the underlying malt still having to parry the lingering ashiness making time with my various palates.

I know that this is a whole lot less smoky than its full-on, charred beechwood fire brethren, but even dumbed-down in that respect, it still resonates. The underlying Helles lager at least has some more wiggle room in this offering, which can be used as a teaching aid, to remind us all of what not torching your input ingredients has done for the world of beer over the past century or so.

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Photo of Silke_Neryn
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful beer.

It's more bitter than your regular Helles, but the bitterness has such a lovely smokey and salty touch to it that it never feels unwanted. Instead it's part of what makes this beer into something of its own. And at 4.3%, it's remarkably drinkable, full of flavours both classic and new.

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Photo of mmesce2
3.18/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow. I have been trying to diversify my tastes in beer, and sours and smoked beers are on the outskirts of my tolerance. This is quite palatable though. Please try it if you are looking to diversify your beer tastes.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.34/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours light gold with a hint of haze. Small white head, somewhat fizzy. Decent lacing.

Grainy sweetness with a hint of smoke. Crackers and honey. Grassy and herbal hops. Clean lager character. Smoke is fairly subtle, but is present.

Clean pilsner malts and refreshing lager character. Not as much of the honey sweetness as suggested by the aroma, but it does come up more in the finish. Herbal and grassy. Smoke is even more subtle in the flavor. The smoke's subtle meatiness adds the impression of salt, which is nice.

Medium bodied, but slick, and medium carbonation. Soft on the palate. Very dry and minerally.

Quite good. Not my go-to for Helles or Rauchbier, but a nice place in between.

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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
4.88/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | 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.

 892 characters

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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Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla
3.97 out of 5 based on 681 ratings.
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