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Brewer’s Perspective A Proper Helles: Toeing the Line between Bland and Sublime

It stands as an island in a sea of beer choice: helles as the Promised Land. But order one at any of the breweries throughout the United States that have it on offer, and you’re likely to find wildly different results. Here's how to do it right.

Ashleigh Carter of Bierstadt Lagerhaus Jul 17, 2019 - 5 min read

 Brewer’s Perspective  A Proper Helles: Toeing the Line between Bland and Sublime Primary Image

When I think of helles, I think of the purest perception of malt. It should taste like malt with just enough hops bitterness to balance the sweetness but not be perceptible enough for drinkers to know the hops are there. Hops aroma isn’t something you should even think about.

I think you want to be at 18 to 25 IBUs, but I think if you don’t put enough hops in there, if you go lower, it almost becomes cloying. Think of Coors. If they added 50 percent more hops, that beer would be downright delicious.

Color range is also important. I think a lot of brewers want to load their helles up with biscuit malts and caramel malts to make them seem maltier, but I think that has the opposite effect because they think it’s going to be thin if it’s too dry. We always joke here that we think helles toes the line between bland and sublime. It’s barely there. When you drink one of them, it might not be shocking to you that it’s good or bad or anything (and bland is the right word) because a proper one is so clean. By the time you get to your third one, you realize there isn’t anything you’d change about that beer.

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