Aecht Schlenkerla Helles Lagerbier | Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla

very good
382 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: 382 | Ratings: 681
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic amber with a flawless interior disturbed only by a slow parade of superfine bubbles seeking higher ground. Those bubbles contribute to a cap that is a shade or two darker than bright white and has a quality look about it. A wide ring of delicate lace completes the picture of a fine looking German lager.

Like all the Brauerei Heller-Trum beers, this one features smoke to the near exclusion of all else (In fact, it's difficult to tell what style they are by the nose alone because beechwood smoke is all one is treated to on the sniff. They only differ in the intensity of the smokiness). That's more than fine with me since smoke, given its dominant nature, would have to be too laid back for anything else to be evident.

Helles Lagerbier is a helluva good lager beer. I love how each one of this brewery's offerings shares an obvious similarity, yet each one is also distinctly different. They wouldn't work nearly as well as they do if the brewers relied on the fragrant, woodsy smoke to paper over inferior beer. These guys are true craftsmen who just happen to love rauchbier and have decided to share it with the world. Good for us.

The key, of course, to this beer's success, and to the success of the entire lineup, is the balancing act between malt, hops, yeast and smoke. The hops provide a modest bitterness and the lager yeast doesn't provide much of anything at all in terms of flavor; nor should it. That leaves lightly sweet golden malt and beautiful beechwood smoke. Delicious.

The mouthfeel is right where it needs to be in terms of size and in the amount and character of the carbonation. While nothing about it stands out as exceptional, it's perfectly calibrated to the task at hand, that of delivering the devilishly good flavor to the expectant taste buds, while refreshing the drinker at the same time.

I've been looking for this offering for quite some time now and I'm glad that I finally found a bottle. It's a great addition to the Aecht Schlekerla series of beers and is easily the equal of my other favorites of the Munich Helles Lager style, the versions from Brauereien Aying and Weihenstephaner. Helles Lagerbier is a light, smoky treat and should be on the 'must try' list of all who consider themselves connoisseurs of smoked beer.

 2,291 characters

Photo of Jimmys
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pint 0.9 fl. oz. bottle into tulip

A: brilliantly clear. white head sits on top of the bright golden body. decent retention and some nice lacing too.

S: a real rich grainy aroma. oh so lightly toasted munich malts interact with a spicy, floral german hop aroma.

T: starts with just a touch of smoke. rich graininess underneath gives this lager a little bit of meat. a hint of vanilla sweetness in there. bitterness is a little lacking, and that is my only real complaint. however, the addition of the smoke really makes this helles unique.

M: zesty carbonation on a light body.

D: im definitely a sucker for smoke, but i think all would agree this is a very well made beer. highly quaffable.

 700 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
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 VoxRationis
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Started with half pour into a conical pint glass to get the aroma, then full. Rather dark, almost brown yellow. Nose full of bacon and honey notes; taste of pepperoni with a mildly avocado/kiwi finish. Light bodied and very refreshing given the flavor characteristics. I am not typically a fan of the rauchbier style, but this beer's lightness complemented the flavor nicely.

 379 characters

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a .5 liter bottle into a pilsener. Beautiful clear golden color with a visible effervescence and a half a finger head, which dissipated quickly and left some nice lacing.

Smells definitely of lager yeast with a little bit of smokey overtone, some pale malt sweetness but not too much.

Taste is surprisingly complex for such a clear, bright lager. All the same kind of stuff as the nose, pale malt, lager yeast, a little smoky towards the end. Delicious.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, a little tingly, very light body and very drinkable. Unfortunately I've already finished the bottle : (. At such a low alcohol content and such high flavor content, you'll want to drink a lot of this brew.

 701 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16.9oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" bright white head over the clear light golden brew. Head fades down relatively quickly to white film, with prevalent sticky lace. Aroma is light sweetness with the ever-present Schlenkerla smokiness, although a bit controlled here. Taste is excellently balanced, with the maltiness countered by the moderate hoppiness, and wisps of smoke throughout it all. Mouthfeel and drinkability are excellent. This one's got the best of both worlds, some smokiness, but still easily approachable. This is the Schlenkerla to start someone new with.

 654 characters

Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – A light transparent golden color with a beautiful white head.

Smell – Smell is surprisingly nice for a lager. A mild smokiness, malt, and a touch of honey.

Taste – The best lager I’ve had (although I haven’t yet tried the Augustiner Bräu Lagerbier Hell or the Thomas Hooker Munich Style Lager as of this review). It has a pleasant sweet/smokey taste that sticks around a while, but it’s a nice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel – Perfectly carbonated for a lager.

Drinkability – Lagers typically go down easy. Since this is the best lager I’ve tried, it goes down that much easier. My local beer store sells this by the keg; this could be a dangerous drink for a big party.

 697 characters

Photo of Beertracker
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles (Lagerbier) is best served at cooler cellar (40-45°F) temperatures from a house hour shaped glass or Willibecher. This Hellesbier pours up with a subtle carbonation that creates a lacy, white head that prominently sits atop a superb bright, straw-golden body. The alluring aroma displays some honeyish maltiness that's reminiscent of freshly baked European sweetbread. In addition, there's a noticeable spiciness from the noble Hallertauer hops, as well as the impression of smokiness (phenols) as the beer warms in the glass... although this may be completely psychosomatic? The smooth, easy going flavor starts off with a simply lovely, grainy-sweet maltiness that is marked a perfect amount of spicy bitterness to balance. This finely engineered medium bodied lager finishes gently crisp & extremely smooth with a definite hint of smokiness. Highly recommended and extremely drinkable! Suggested food pairings include Franconian beernuckles with fried potatoes or some Butterkäse cheese with herb crusted crackers. Here's to the Heller-Trum brewery, the famous Schlenkerla tavern and their traditional beers!

PROST! Beertracker

 1,160 characters

Photo of Frozensoul327
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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 miskatonic
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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 Haybeerman
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Clear pale gold color. Poured a 2 finger fulfy white head with good retention to a thick skim. Decanted continually. Laced the glas in wide rings.

S: Sweet malts with a hint of smoke. A litle dry grass and faint spice.

T: Smokey and sweet with a nice balance between the two. Wet grain and bready malt just ahead of a mild bitter with a little smokiness lingering.

M: Light body. Ample carbonation; very active. Crips and refreshing. A little ligering smoke, but not overbearing.

D: Very drinkable. Crisp, refreshing and fairly light with good malt character. Mils smokiness is really nice.

 598 characters

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.

 697 characters

Photo of nicnut45
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark straw color, minimal foam, nice tiny bright white head.

S-Smells like a smokehouse. Smoked corn beef, bacon, charred wood. In the background I get the unmistakable pilsner scent that blends nicely with the smokiness.

T-Nice, clean, and smokey. But not too smokey. Just the right amount to compliment this beer. Im not too familiar with the helles style but I dont think this smokiness is a normal characteristic. But it is pleasing nonetheless.

M-This beer is not watered down. Great carbonation.

D-I would drink this all the time if it came in 12 packs. The price is kind of high too for a 16 ounce. But I will get this again.

 638 characters

Photo of Bice4
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An excellent Helles from Schlenkerla. Pours a golden amber color and there was no notice of the "bacon" smell I have experienced with other similar beers. Drank out of my Augustiner Edelstoff lager glass.

A true gem. Still searching for the Augustiner Helles, but very enjoyable this one..


 298 characters

Photo of stephens101
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Chill-hazed, dark amber topped with a strong and craggy off-white froth. Aroma of peat, malt, straw, light fruit and smouldering wood. On the palate fruit and grain are enveloped by a certain smokiness and a slight bitterness. Light in body. An eccentric lager that does what it does unapologetic and does it well.

 318 characters

Photo of BhamBeerLover
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Smells vaguely of Caribbean lagers which was offputting. However tastes like a campfire and had fantastic mouthfeel. For something with such smoky qualities I was surprised not to see that on the label. (Although my translation skills are nonexistent or very close to it.) Greatly enjoyed this beer and although I don't look for lagers, would buy this beer again when in the mood. Great work peeps across the pond!

 414 characters

Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I didn't know what to expect from this one but it turns out that it's a great beer, not just because of the smoky aroma flavors, but also with regard to everything else. The smoky aroma and flavor were very faint at first (when the beer was cold) but as they became more and more prominent (without ever becoming overwhelming) the more you drank it.

 349 characters

Photo of beergoot
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pale, straw yellow body, crystal clear, with excellent carbonation and a thick white head. Bright, grainy lager aroma. Biscuit and light cracker malt flavors with a crisp hop bitterness near the end. Light bodied with a crisp, clean, dry finish.

An extraordinary German lager that hits all the style marks in excellent fashion. Well-balanced combines with nice, low-key complexity throughout. I've always liked their smoked beers and was hoping their helles lager would provide similar satisfaction. I was not disappointed and would recommend this beer to anyone without hesitation.

 583 characters

Photo of numenor1
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
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 nlmartin
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer was purchased at Jungle Jims for $2.89. The beer was served in a pub glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a straw yellow coloration. The head is white and fluffy. The head quickly resolves itself into a thin ring of foam. The beer leaves rings of lacing going down the glass.

Smell: There is a faint hickory smoky smell coming from my glass. The beer has the expected pleasant grainy smells.

Taste: The beer has a toasted biscuity grainyness. The smokyness makes a visit in the flavor. The hops bring a bit of earthness to the beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is light bodied. The beer has nice a nice crisp carbonation. This is just an outstanding beer treat. This is definately a proverbial session beer. The beer is easy to consume. I wish that I had more.

 786 characters

Photo of ypsifly
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Undated 16.9 oz purchased at Merchant's in Dearborn and poured into a pilsner.

Clear gold under a couple centimeters of white that hold their ground. Faint lace as it goes down. After a few sips the head is reduced to a fat ring.

The nose has some of the characteristic smokey bacon aromas that are associated with this brewery's other labels. A bit odd for a normal Helles, but I love smoked beers and foods so I'm enjoying it. Smoked Helles? Light malts and some grains underneath.

The malts are more assertive in the taste as they seem to be paired with the smoke and the grains take a back seat. Lightly dry with lingering smoke in the finish. Very nice "light" beer.

The mouth is light with crisp carbonation. This is one hell of a session beer as it perfectly balances flavor with low alcohol and damn near perfect drinkability. I am buying more next week. This would be a great one to sip in front of a camp fire.

 932 characters

Photo of maltlikker
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear golden straw color with a substantial fluffy white head which leaves thick lacing as it retreats.

Aroma is floral and light citrus with a hint of fresh bread and a wisp of smoke.

Flavor is mildly sweet biscuit and light smoke finishing with clean citrus and cleansing carbonation.

A really delightful beer - this would be a good brew for those who are put off by a rauchbier (many seem to be) but are intrigued by the idea of a smoked beer.

 449 characters

Photo of yelterdow
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Found this at Oak Tree Buy Rite in South Plainfield... last one, I couldn't resist.

Served in a nonic at fridge temperature, alongside a nice meatball parmesian. No freshness date.

Appearance- Pours a crystal clear straw, the palest of yellows... with a nice three finger soapy head. Craggy lacing is left behind, looks pure.

Smell- Schlenkerla's signature bacony smoke aroma, just a hell of a lot lighter than their other offerings. Great malts and a whiff of hops, becoming richer and bolder as the beer opens up.

Taste- Great, smooth, tasty brew incorporating the smoked malts into an easy drinking lager. Pleasantly different, and refreshing. A sweet, lush hop character unfurls beneath the malts with terrific balance. Mild smoke and bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Light to medium in the mouth, and effortless to drink. What a great alternative for this summer.

 901 characters

Photo of PhillyStyle
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1 pint .9 oz. bottle

Poured a clear golden color with a thick but light white head, 2+ finger pour with good head retention that settled into a thin cap that lasted through the beer. Carbonation was noticeably constantly rising to the top.

Very nice malted barley aroma with a hint of smoke.

The taste follows the nose, but perhaps a bit more smokey.

The beer had a light feel to it, exceptionally smooth and easy to drink. Overall, this is a simple beer that is exceptionally well done. This one will be in my beer fridge more often.

 539 characters

Photo of Errto
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a brilliantly clear pale gold color with very active - even audible carbonation, and a loose head that settles to a thin layer.

Smell starts off with a distinctive German-style maltiness but later a very distinctive smoke comes through. It overpowers the other smells only because they're quite subtle - it's not nearly as thickly smoky as I was expecting (compared to, say, an island Scotch).

The flavor is more like what I'd expect from a Munich Helles. Light, crisp, refreshing, a delicate balance of malt with a small punch of hops. As with the smell, the smoke comes through only later and makes an interesting contrast. A little alcohol in the finish.

Very dry, but it does coat the tongue a bit. Overall, a really interesting mix of flavors that imho comes out just right.

 790 characters

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