Tag Archive: Helles Lager


Westerham: Helles Belles (England: Helles: 4% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow to grain. Moderate white head. Moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Lightly creamy. Lime. Hop oils. Smooth. Light nutty character.

Body: Very soft, but lightly chalky. Vanilla. Tiny marshmallows. Soft honey. Palma violets. Dried apricot. Soft lychee.

Finish: Moderate bitter hop character. Light chalk. Vanilla. Dried apricot. Soft lychee. Honey.

Conclusion: I’m trying to work out how to describe the very soft feel of this beer’s texture without referring to kittens. Apparently mentioning kittens in tasting notes is mock-worthy and not allowed. Which is a pity, as when I hold this on my tongue it feels like soft fruit just falling apart on my tongue and – no word a lie, makes me think of fluffy kittens. No I don’t know why. My mind is a strange place. I already knew that.

Anyway … this has a very nice, soft texture – maybe like mini marshmallow bits in a dry lager? Does that work as a better description? I dunno. Anyway (again) it is underlined by a slight chalkiness that then goes into a crisp hoppy bitterness in the finish. A nice note that means the soft character doesn’t end up feeling like drinking wet air.

Flavour-wise is fairly simple – vanilla, slight honey, that noble hop style palma violet character. It has a crisp lager base that gets just slightly tart as time goes on, and gains a higher bitterness than is expected for a helles as the beer progresses adding a nice bite to things. A soft lychee flavour joins in as it goes, another light backing note but welcome. It is solid, if not super exciting, but it is satisfying to drink.

It comes in gentle as hell(es) up front, crisp and dry in the middle, into a hoppy end with just enough flavour in-between that it does the job. Ok at the start, with subtle extra flavours by the end – pretty decent all said.

Background: Ok, I grabbed this one for two reasons. 1) You don’t see many new Helles these days, so it is always nice to try non IPA/stout beers. 2) Helles Belles. Heh. It is a pun. Heh. Puns. I am a fully mature adult. Honest.

Not much else to say. Put on Andrew WK’s first album – “I Get Wet” while drinking. Great, silly party fun music. Back at university metal nights (in the dim and distant past) people hated Andrew WK as they felt it wasn’t proper metal. Don’t care, it is glorious fun.

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And Union: Unfiltered Lager (Germany: Helles Lager: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice. Moderate white head. Hazy. Some bits visible at the base of the beer. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Wheaty. Light cream. Bready hop bitterness to crusty white bread. Flour.

Body: Lemon. Crusty white bread. Clean hop character. Light hop oils. Lightly fresh, Soft lime. Soft kiwi. Light prickle to the mouthfeel. Vanilla ice cream. Moderate bitterness. Zesty.

Finish: Lightly creamy. Creamy kiwi. White bread hop feel. Light bitterness. Flour. Palma violets.

Conclusion:Lager really should be drunk unfiltered in my opinion. Pretty much always unfiltered, yep. Maybe a few exceptions, but generally unfiltered is the way to go. There. My cards are on the table. Now, with that said, we have a great example here – fresh, lemony, with a wonderful bit of extra mouthfeel over a filtered lager but without losing that very drinkable and thirst quenching character. The body has a crusty white bread weight and a similarly white bread kind of neutral backing character that lets the citrus notes float in a soft and refreshing ways.

For flaws, well it has very few – there is a flour touch to the texture that is a pleasant weight early on, but slightly wears thin by the end. Only slightly though. This is still a beer that stands up to repeated drinks.

This feels like what a lot of the heavily hopped lagers are trying to do and failing – It grains lovely soft citrus hop flavours, but keeps the more gentle hop bitterness along with than larger style mouthfeel all the way through. That lager character especially accentuated by the unfiltered nature.

There is a slight noticeable, noble hop feeling, oily and palma violet set of notes but they are a minor backing showing the more traditional side of its lager roots – the fresher notes are the mainstay.

So, not flawless, but still a hell of a good lager and a comparatively easy unfiltered lager to grab, which is a rarity for me. Well worth keeping a few to hand for easy drinking flavour whenever the mood takes you.

Background: This is one I’ve had a few times before – it came up in conversation when I mentioned how much better I found unfiltered lagers than their filtered siblings, and how they are so comparatively rare. It was pointed out that Waitrose had this in and it was well worth trying. So I did. This was drunk while listening to Television Villain’s new album, having been to the album launch gig a few days before. Now, I am biased as I know a couple of the band members but I think they have some proper great tunes there – Bevvy especially.

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