Velas Helles | Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant

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Velas HellesVelas Helles
95 Ratings
Velas HellesVelas Helles

Brewed by:
Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
Tennessee, United States

Style: Munich Helles Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-06-2003

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Ratings: 95 |  Reviews: 37
Photo of khargro2
4.5/5  rDev +36%

Photo of NickCurley
4.5/5  rDev +36%

Photo of chiefydawg
4.28/5  rDev +29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks again skully...
This seems to be the same beer as the Calhoun, which strangely has a higher average. A C+ for a GABF gold? Let's see...

Very clear yellowish-gold with thin white head. Decent carbonation to style. Some lacing. Admittedly, I poured it like a sissy; but nothing too impressive to look at. However, it is light, clear, and with white head at least.

Fragrant Graininess. Malty cereal sweetness. Underlying German hoppiness. Clean and elegant in it's light malty simplicity. Love the scent of this beer first to last sip! It is how I imagine Germany's best would be on their home turf or if the elements that be did not skunk the stuff sent to the states. Technically, it smells like a Bock yeast.

Crisp yet malty. Fresh raw pretzel dough. Some spicy, woodsy hop spiciness. Tastes hoppier than the malty smell (which keeps inviting me for another drink). Some lightly fruity honey. Malty without being sweet sticking to the breadiness. Warm sourdough biscuit center Pils with some balancing, spicy tang keeping it all in check.

Overall, this is one hell of a balanced, clean, grainy, hop-appropriated Helles. Some stickiness to the very end; but like the Pils (which I recall has a lot in common with this) it is a pleasant aftertaste. Should it cleanse the palate totally? I don't know because I have never been to a Deuschland Biergarten drinking the Bavarian greats, but I like the un-American-light-lager-residual. This would go nicely in one of my Corny kegs!

 1,487 characters

Photo of pasjc2001
4.25/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of ChrisKayler
4.25/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of mwar
4.25/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of wrightst
4.25/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of PUbeer
4.1/5  rDev +23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of markallmon
4/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of Lawnboy33
4/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of fishguyac
4/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of pheelingIt
4/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of dcscientist
3.88/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This was a pretty decent Helles; I'm not sure why it's rated so low. Had this when I was in the area, so it was my first exposure to this brewery. Maybe they tweaked the recipe recently to improve it? It was mellow with just a bit of spice to it, which is pretty typical of the style, so I thought it was a good representation.

 330 characters

Photo of Ry311
3.85/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of austinhensley
3.83/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Almost inch thick creamy like head. Tastes very similar to the German style beers that it is modeled after. Great lacing, looked like spider webs down the sides of the glass. Appearance was golden yellow. Didn't bother to smell it. Mouthfeel is how I believe a beer should be. Very drinkable, let's just say I had more than one. The bartender gave me a shot of Cherokee Red after I told him how bad it was when I tryed it, still tasted like shit.

 446 characters

Photo of veech
3.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

This is a beer that I feel the brewmaster intends to mimic a Corona for the macro crowd. It is much better than a Corona, but I do see tourists drink this with a lime, which is not required. It has a standard straw yellow look with low carbonation and thin head. A very mild aroma that hints at a very mild sweet grain nose. Taste has a smooth grain accent with the lightest touch of hops on finishing. Mouthfeel is thin and somewhat watery. Drinkability is big as it seems to quaff better with each successive pint. Not my first nor second choice from this brewpub, but a pretty nice option in warmer months. This beer has been watered down to appease the masses as it had much more character and taste when it was first brewed (Gold medal Helles at the GABF in '99).

 768 characters

Photo of Dogbrick
3.79/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to johnrobe for sending me this. The guy with the funny hat on the label is worth the price of admission. Billed as a "light German style lager" which doesn't really tell you much. Pours a gold color with a medium off-white head and mild effervescence. No lacing. Very light and sweet aroma of honey and even a little bubblegum. Very light-bodied with an unimposing hops flavor, with some malt and citrus as well. Finish is lightly sweet. Complexity is not a factor but this stuff is insanely easy to drink.

 514 characters

Photo of EarlNobdy
3.78/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I'm a Lager Guy. Given the choice as to what single beer I would drink on a desert island for the rest of my life, I would probably have to say the Velas Helles Lager from the Smoky Mtn Brewery in Gatlinburg, TN. This was the beer I grew up on as a beer drinker. Imagine Thom as a younger man taking a year's leave of absence from college. He heads back South and moves back in with his mom and dad. And after dicking around for about six months, his mom finally tells him he needs to get a job. So he goes into the first place that has a Help Wanted sign on the door, which happens to be an Italian Pizzeria (though in the South, such a place is pronounced Eye-Talian, just so you know.)

Drift with him if you will, through six more months of waiting tables and counting tips. Smoking joints out back with the cooks and overall gaining a full-body hatred for the food service industry which makes his decision to return to college the next semester a no brainer, and is just as his parents had hoped it would be when he initially made the announcement he was taking time off from school. Nothing is more sobering than sobriety. And the Real World comes crashing down like a ton of bricks. Young Adults of the world, stay in school as long as you can. Earn as many majors and degrees as the time and money will allow. Become a professor--do whatever it takes to avoid leaving those ivory towers and hallowed halls until the gravy train absolutely 100% runs out of road.

The one shining light in that entire six month experience was that after I got off from work each evening and punched the clock and hung up my apron, there directly across the street, blazing like a beacon in the night was the Smoky Mtn Brewery. And glory halleluia their Last Call wasn't for another two hours.

Now, kids, I know I just gave you the advice to stay in school and all, but upon second thought and careful consideration, I'm also going to give you the much sounder advice to not listen to a single word of advice that I ever offer you. Because I could stand here and tell you not to drink to excess or to smoke (at all), but what good would that do? It's not like I ever listened when someone who had been there and done that was trying to stop me from making the same mistakes they made. I wanted to go out there and make the mistakes for myself. I had to. How else was I ever going to learn what not to do the next time. That is if I ever managed to make it through my youth. Which I did, miraculously, and I'm here to tell you the larger part of our survival is pure bald-faced luck. But then again there's no reason to stack the odds against you if you don't have to.

All of which is to say that this was back when they still allowed smoking in bars. And what I did was I smoked like chimney. Which, I'm not proud of. And which I'm not entirely ashamed of, either. I have since quit smoking, only recently, actually, and am to date some 25 weeks clean of that demon weed. Though not a day goes by that I wouldn't like to light up and be there at the bar of the Smoky Mtn Brewery with a 40 oz stein of Velas Helles there before me.

It's how I got through 6 months of Purgatory, and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but it worked for me. It got the job done when I needed it most. And I mean, talk about the world staying the same while you're the only thing that changes. I blew through there like a blur. And the next Spring semester found me safely back in the loving arms of Alma Mater. But I'll never forget that taste. Anytime I'm back in town, I always have to swing by for a stein or two, or now that I'm a daddy, maybe just a pint or two with dinner. No more cigarettes. No more joints out in the alley. But the beer still remains. That's the one thing I haven't allowed them to take away from me.

"Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that's impossible, but it's too bad, anyway." (The Catcher in the Rye, pg. 122)

And that's why I'm a Lager Guy. Not because I have no palette and can't appreciate anything except fizzy, yellow beer. I enjoy my share of hops and sours and fruit and funk, but when you get right down to it, food is a nostalgic experience as opposed to a collector's or academic one. Eat what you like. Drink what you like. Lager-ists (lageristas?) appreciate the subtle nuance of form. We don't need big bold bombs going off in our mouths or extreme heat ABV to get us into bed. Bring us the graded shades of taste, and we'll supply the rest.

 4,581 characters

Photo of GeoCait
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of Swill5786
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A golden brew with slight appearance of a head reduced to a thin cap in a flash. Smell brings a gentle hoppy presence - spicy hops. Good, not distinctive. Mild malt sweetness, almost perfectly balanced with mild hop bitterness. Gentle, mild, slight... These words above are the description of the overall. And the mouthfeel? Guess! Light. High drinkability due to the balanced ease with which the Velas Hellespont presents itself. Good.

 436 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of RochefortChris
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of JoeyJellico
3.74/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of witster18
3.73/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

this beer has really been up and down through the years... there was a lack of consistency at the Gatlinburg location, but the newer Pigeon Forge location has returned this beer to it's gold medal status. I reviewed the beer when it was down at 2.13, but it's good again.

The beer is a beautifully subtle, fruity helles lager. It has a big honey biscut and citrus nose, and the taste is pretty much the same. It has a really sweet finish which is in balance because of the fruit up front, and the detectable hops. It's a sublimely poundable lighter lager that is a perfect pairing with just about anything on their menu.

We just don't see too many good hell brews anymore. It's a tougher style to craft than most, and lagers are tough enough to begin with. From ABout 2006-2008 there was a SERIOUS decline for this beer... it was coming out boozy and sour, and they seem to have brought it back to it's former glory now, especially at the new location.

Highly recommend this. Don't expect anything crazy. It's a very subtle, light offering, that has some neat grassy, biscut, faint fruit stuff going on with that sweeter finish. Much better value at the brewery to get the "big" one's.

 1,192 characters

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Velas Helles from Smoky Mountain Brewery & Restaurant
Beer rating: 3.31 out of 5 with 95 ratings