Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier | Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
370 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 370 | Ratings: 656
Photo of garymuchow
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in Orlando. I guess now it's available in MN too. Oh well.

Nice sweet (like vanilla) malt aroma with just the hint of smoke way in the back. Very nice.
Brilliantly clear dark gold. Big and full white head that shows a creamy nature as it slowly settles.
Smokiness is a quite a bit more pronounced in the flavor. Never too strong or overpowering but always present. Nice and grainy malt character with less sweetness noted (than in the aroma) but still present right up front. Mild bitterness shows in middle and stays consistent through a relatively short and generally malty finish that shows increasing dryness as warms.
Moderate body (for a lager). Clean. Fair amount of fullness from carbonation, yet continues to go down quite easily.
Ya' know the thing about lagers is they go down so easily and one this good is hard to savor. Tasty with just enough complexity to make it interesting. Very nicely done. This would be very good with grilled food.

 976 characters

Photo of wcudwight
3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a crystal clear yellow with a pilfy white head that recedes quickly to nothing. No lace.
The aroma is of smoked brats. No kidding. It really smells of grilled brats.
The beer has a very unique flavor profile. The expected malt, bready and toasty. The unexpected oh so obvious smoked flavor and nice bitter spiciness at the end.
Thin and watery in the mouth.
This is a drinkable summertime beer that offers something different in the smoked flavor.

 471 characters

Photo of miskatonic
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer. I had this for the first time at a tasting with my beer rep at the bar I used to work for. Drinking this beer made me nervous at first seeing as Rauchbier is a once in a while indulgence for me. What a surprise though - poured into a willybacher this beer was a pale straw color with superior clarity (which for some reason I did not expect being as this is a Schlenkerla brew) with a rocky head. The aroma is of spicy hops, sweet bready malt and of course smoke -but much less smoke aroma than I get from the Schlenkerla Rauchbiers. Because this is not listed as a rauchbeir on the label I was torn as to what I should think about the smoke aroma. The mouthfeel is light clean and dry with a light carbonation. The first sip is outstanding - well-balanced malt, very crisp and dry, hops don't come in until the finish and are coupled with a very subtle, very flavorful and oddly refreshing smoke tinge. Who really brewed this? Clearly not Heller-Trum who’s other beers are sooo very smokey and intensely robust. The smokiness is so subdued and complimentary to the rest of the beer's flavor profile, that I can hardly believe it's not an added synthetic flavor. Each sip and the smokiness becomes less and less pronounced as my palate grows accustomed. I ended up ordering a case of this and drank half of it myself. Recently I caught up with the local guy who works for the importer and he tells me the brewery uses absolutely NO smoked malt. Apparently they just pass unsmoked malt through the same gristmill as the smoked malt and this adds enough smokey starches to the brew. He also mentioned they use the same yeast strain as the authentic Rauchbier and so these yeast may be passing on smoke flavors from batches past. Either way this is an incredible Helles and very worth your attention, and the attention of your next cheeseburger.

 1,861 characters

Photo of numenor1
4.36/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Crystal clear pale yellow. Forms a rocky head that dissipates to a color leaving beautiful lacing. A very tame nose by schlenkerla standards. All i can pick out is very lightly toasted malts, a faint bready note, faint hops and the slightest smoke. However the smoke perks up in the taste, very restrained compared to their other beers. Brilliantly integrated into the beer. Starts smoky with bready malts and then takes on a grassy note as it dries into a bitter finish with smoke lingering. Just like with all the schlenkerla beers, the smoke builds and builds on the palate as you drink. Incredible helles. Mouthfeel is light with typical medium carbonation. As drinkable as any helles.

This would be an incredible session beer if it weren't $4 a bottle.

 760 characters

Photo of granger10
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear golden bronze color with a medium white head which dwindles to nothing. Slight bubbles to the top.

Toasty malt aroma, very German in style. Slight smoke and a lingering hop bouquet.

Malty body but not too sweet. Lingering smoke underneath seems to cut through the sweeter malts. The smokiness is not near as dominant as in their other offerings but instead provides a nice balance to the lighter body. Longer floral hop finish finishes the tasting.

The body provided balance and base to this offering. Medium carbonation levels seemed to give each ingredient a chance to show itself while creating moderate smoothness and drinkability. Fairly full body, esp. for the style.

This was fairly drinkable but I don't know if I could drink these all day or night. A nicer beer to enjoy but no thirst quencher. Very unique, definitely recommended.

 859 characters

Photo of Mitchster
4.82/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

$3.49 for a 1pt 0.9 flu oz bottle at Merchants. Pours out to a sparkingly clear pale blond, forming a small white head with zero retention or lacing. Carbonation is moderate. Despite the lack of head, this is still an interesting looking beer due to it's crystalline sparkle. The nose is gorgeous. It's a very well balanced combination of delicate smoke mixed with a very cleanly fermented Europils, complete with grassy hop notes and pale malts. Wonderful nose. The mouthfeel is lively and clean with a brisk wellwater crispness and light body. Taste begins with grassy hops, followed by a delicate whiff of smoke, light pale malts, and mild grassy bitterness. All of this is expertly crafted to form a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of it's parts. Minerals tickle the tongue in the semidry clean aftertaste. Belches of Hallertau. The bitterness is just perfect, making this soooo easy to drink.

It's interesting that reviewers say they love it and then give it a 3.5. I think it has to do with the uniqueness of the style and our non-German taste buds. You love rauchbier or you don't. I'm completely floored. This is the best of both worlds when it comes to an awesome Europils/Helles and a rauchbier. Heaven sent. There is something magical about this beer, infusing one with the spirit of old Bamberg. Schlenkerla is an experience beyond the beer. Try it!

 1,376 characters

Photo of Derek
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I gave my wife a 'blind' taste from my glass... she said "is this from Schlenkerla?". Supposedly not a Rauchbier, but it certainly has a smokey element. Perhaps even more than Spezial's house lager? (though the bottle was obtained in Michigan, so who know's how long it has 'conditioned').

A: Clear, golden yellow; white head, hardly any retention, but it initially leaves some lace.

S: Fresh, floral hops (a bit of a soapy aroma); a slight hint of smoke; a little toffee & bread in the background.

T: Malty bread & toffee up front, moderate floral hop flavour, mild smoke (mostly in the aftertaste). Excellent bitter-sweet balance, with the sweetness fading to a crisp finish. This gets bonus points for its flavour-to-weight ratio!

M: Surprisingly heavy for a 4.3% brew; more body than a lot of stronger lagers. Almost chewy, yet creamy. It's not very dry (seems to be a pleasant amount of residual sugar), but has a crisp finish. Amazing.

D: Plenty of flavour for a 'light' brew. I could certainly session this!

Thanks for picking this up Eric (Frozensoul), I thoroughly enjoyed it!

 1,103 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.57/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a crystal clear gold with a wispy thin ivory head. Some faint fine lacing. Smell is smoky. Smoked peat. Some lightly grassy malt.

Taste is smoky, of course and a rich grassy malt. Noble hop finish with a faint fruitiness. Mouth is crisp, if a bit thinnish. This is just so heavenly good. One of the better beers I've had all year. Yummy!

 346 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.64/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks liek a normal helles. Golden, crisp looking yellow with one column of bubbles making its way to the top. But it doesn't smell like your normal helles. It's smoked. But smoked cyrstal and pale malts. Very lioght smokey aroma mixed with grass and pilsnert malts. Tastes like a distant smokehouse. Light mlating with an equally light smoke flavor. Very unique. One of a kind.

 378 characters

Photo of smurfyou
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

I was attracted by the simple, Bavarian label. I thought it was probably either a really good small-batch German beer or a really bad German macro trying to look the part....I took a chance, and really liked this beer.

Pours a very pale-clear, almost scary color. Reminded me of a domestic light beer. Head dissipates quickly. Aroma is smoky, which was very unexpected until I noticed it was the Aecht Schlenkerla brewery. Didn't connect the name until then.

Taste is classic Helles, with a very slight smoke undertone. Very enjoyable and very drinkable. I'll be buying more of this. Good "summer" beer, if you believe in such a thing.

Edit: Found some more of this finally. Still love it. I could drink this all day, and plan on buying a case to keep around.

 763 characters

Photo of horndecker
4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I like the plain and simple label with the Bavarian colors. A 500 ml bottle.

It's crystal clear pale straw with a wonderful fluffy head, lotsa carbonation. Aromas of malt, grassy hops, a sweet nuttiness, slight sulfur. The taste is wow, real interesting. Smoky but not in your face, a beautiful balance of bright hops and sturdy malt, absolutely refreshing and delicious. The smokiness pervades the taste from beginning to end, but doesn't mask any of the other flavors.

This one's a keeper and worth seeking out. Wonderful.

 531 characters

Photo of murrayswine
4.24/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is great beer!
Stonecrusher stopped by and mentioned that the case I had was not dated and ran the risk of being old, I trust the big lug so we cracked one in the store to test it.

Poured a nice light gold with a thin head, that had me a little worried at first because it died so fast.

The smell was slightly smoky, like a nice western highland scotch, wicked with some hops and a good green leaf hint. Had a hint of rye bread in the nose.

The taste is smooth with a smoky/hickory pepper that would pair well most cheese, and good marbled beefcuts. It finishes with a subtle malt/hop body thats like a sour dough bread.

Best beer I have had in a while. I quote crusher "this beer rocks"

 705 characters

Photo of keilerdunkel
4.77/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love this beer.

pours a very pale yellow with a small 1/4-1/2" head. Aroma and taste is classic munich helles. Malty with good noble hop (Saaz?) backbone. BUT in addition there is smoke both in the aroma and taste. This is not an in-your-face smokiness (think campfire) but more subtle - think a nicely balanced smoked cheese.

-Perfect. I could drink these all night. If you are looking for a gentle introduction to the obsession that is rauchbiers - this is it.

 470 characters

Photo of blackie
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

appearance: The pour from the import style bottle gives a 0.5" bone white head that soon becomes a thin ring and a layer on the surface. The beer is a ultra-clear pale golden in color.

smell: Very "pilsner" in aroma, with clean German pale malts, a touch of grassy noble hops, and a slight sulfuric aroma. Easily noticeable, yet light enough to be called subtle, is a hint of that distinctive Aecht smoke aroma. If this wasn't such a light beer, the smoke would be easily overlooked.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the border between medium and high, and the body is light.

taste: Clean, pale German malts are pretty much even in strength with a subtle, natural hardwood smoke flavor. I get just a touch of noble hop flavor, mainly after the stronger flavors have subsided. Following the initial flavor rush after the swallow, the flavor becomes just slightly metallic. A light bitterness then kicks in, lingering with just a touch of metal and smoke in the finish.

drinkability: Very easily drinkable

Picked up a single bottle from Sam's Blue Light in Durham. I was told there that although this beer contains no smoked malt, it is made in/on the same equipment with which Aecht makes their rauchbiers, and in turn, picks up some of that characteristic.

 1,261 characters

Photo of CH3CH2OH
3.37/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a bottle and had no idea what it was before I cracked the cap.

Poured like a pils, with a thin layer of foam. Clear, light yellow. The first aroma that hit me was the smell I get when I start my charcoal grill. This would be an awesome beer to drink in the winter to remind me of warmer times.

Definite smoky aroma, but much less than a rauchbier. Taste is like an adulterated pils. The smoke flavor is more prominent in the beginning and fades to a manageable level.

Mouthfeel and drinkability is what you'd expect; a bit thin and refreshing.

A nice gateway beer to rauchbiers or when you might want a bit of a complement to smokey foods without being overpowering.

 685 characters

Photo of cbl2
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No best by date, but brewed only once.

Pours a crystal clear pale straw with a thin layer of white foam on top that settles quickly.

Slightly smoky like the rest of their beers, though not as prevalent, with some crisp cut grass aromas.

Smoked ham flavor with a mildly hopped drying sensation towards the end. A unique twist on the style.

 350 characters

Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16.9 oz bottle

Pours a clear golden straw with a small white head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Smells crisp and grainy with a nice smokiness. Smells very good.

Taste is crisp and grainy with a mild smokiness. Finishes dry with a slight bitterness. Very tasty and refreshing.

Light body, good carbonation.

Very nice summer beer. Easy to drink and full of flavor.

 385 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Dem Bayerischen Reinheitsgebot entsprechend gebrautes" Say it, over and over again. Don't know what it means, though. Maybe "Mmm, mmm, good"?

Crystal clear pale yellow appearance, under a generous dollop of snowy white froth, slowly dwindling down, and leaving lace. Nice, classic look for the style.

Aroma is empty at first, with slight suggestions of pepper and grain. Dry, smoky malt. Well, this is Schlenkerla.

Taste: smokey from the start, then crisp, clean malty flavor. Easy-going down the throat, light-bodied, meager, but appreciated fruity, malt character, and ever-present smoke.

So easy to drink, and so refreshing. Classic lager, with the hit of smoke an extra treat. Yum, I'm liking it better as I go.

A unique offering, a terrific treat.

 771 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear medium gold. Medium head of crunchy white foam. Lots of carbonation bubbles after the pour, slows to a few steady streams as it sits and the cap fades. Ghostly thin lacing in inky stringed patterms.

Aroma is smokey with a clean, crisp, pale malt profile. Very distinct and peculiar with a tang of smoked meat and grain. Nice.

Taste is broad and lasting with a savory little spiceyness of grasses and beechwood. Topping taste in the middle of the smokey stuff that stays nicely weaved within a pale malt sweetness and mild, easy going tang. Perfect floating finish of leftover smokeyness and a feathery spiced hoppy dryness.

Feel is bold, rounded, smooth, and solidly placed in a medium body. Nice little centering sweetness and one fantastic finish of spice and impressionable length..

One very solid, straight up goodalicious, Helles Lager!

 861 characters

Photo of BeerBuilder
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a clear straw color with a thin white head, leaves a good amount of lacing down the glass.

The aroma is toasty and bready with a malty sweetness and a faint smokiness in the background.

The flavor is toasty and bready like in the nose, crisp and clean with a slight malt sweetness and a more pronounced smokiness than there was in the aroma.

Light in body and quite easy drinking. A nice drinker. Thanks cuz.

 427 characters

Photo of Frozensoul327
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A wonderfully drinkable Lager/Rauchbier. Pours out to a bright gold color with a small head of white foam. The head calms quickly to a thin layer of bubbles over the surface of the beer, and leaves minimal amounts of lace on the interior of the glass. Aromas of smoke and malt dance into the nose, with some fresh herbal characters mixed into the background. Taste is great; smoke and wood notes combine with full maltiness and grain and a touch of hoppy bite. Some grassy elements as well. Very nice. Mouthfeel is rich, yet not overpowering or thick. Drinkability? It's got it. By far, the lager style of this brew adds highly to the ability to have more than one. If it weren't so expensive, i'd keep them on hand at all times. Highly Recommended drinking.

 758 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear pale yellow. Decent amounts of carbonation surface quickly. Thin, bubbly whitish head. Minimal lace. Biscuity and bready malts on the nose reminiscent of fine dortmunders. Faded smokiness and light caramel accent. Fairly crisp mouthfeel with that prickly kind of carbonation. Light to medium in body. Decent all around taste. Biscuity and grain malts form a subdued backbone. Campfire smoke accents...way in the distance. Sweet center. Very slight hop dryness. Good taster. Goes down with no problem.

 506 characters

Photo of OldSock
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – 16.9 oz bottle picked up at Stateline, never seen this one before. I'm hoping this will make up for me missing Fastenbier this year. The bottle is a bit cheesy with a single color label that looks rather shoddily glued on. Poured into my mug... swear to god if I didn't know better I'd say it was bud light, perfectly clear yellow with a stark white head the quickly falls.

Smell – Light smoke compared to the other beers I've had from Heller-Trum not the smoked ham character that I was expecting at all, that being said spicy smoke is still the predominate aroma. There is also a mellow toasted malt aroma. Its hard to tell what is spicy smoke and what is spicy hops, but I think this has a bit of noble hop zing mingling in with the smoke.

Taste – No questioning whether or not this is a smoked beer, but it is no where near as pungent as the Urbock or Marzen. The base beer is solid and crisp, but only seeps around the edges of the smoke. I don't taste any hop flavor aside from the bitterness. While the smoke is milder than the other Rauchbiers in the line, the base beer actually shows through less than in the other beers.

Mouthfeel – Medium-light body with slightly prickly carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – I can see this beer being perfect for a summer bbq, good smoke character, but still easy drinking. Its hard to call this beer refreshing, but I guess it falls closer to that than savory. It seems like this is a fresh sample, but I still like my smoked beers dark and meaty.

 1,523 characters

Photo of ultralarry2006
1.2/5  rDev -69.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Poured from a bottle. Left a pure white head that quickly receded to surface skim, no lacing. Body was a crystal clear gold with crazy carbonation.

Smell - some pale malts, spicy yeast, and some weird smoky smell.

Taste - doughy malt with a spicy yeast that was unexpected for the style, but that was alright until I got this crazy smoke flavor. Yuck. And I mean smoke like the way a burned down building smells, not like hickory or bbq. Smoke that seems toxic and scary, not a good smoke as related to food. It quite frankly concrened me to be drinking it. Bad, toxic, acrid.

Mouthfeel - full, smooth, highly carbonated.

Drinkabilty - I forced myself to try to finish this bottle, it did not happen.

 712 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear pale straw with a white and frothy head which fell slowly and laced the glass.

The aroma was lightly smoky and earthy with a smoked sausage character. Some light malt character was present, but no perceptible hops.

The flavor was light with a mild smoke presence and a tinny, metallic and spicy hop bittering. The bittering was substantial and just a bit harsh. Some malt flavor was present but it was overpowered by bittering and smoke.

The finish was dry with lasting smoke into the aftertaste. The body was medium light. A nice beer, but the bittering seemed just a bit high.

16.9 ounce bottle.

 654 characters

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier from Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla
3.96 out of 5 based on 656 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!