What the hell is that beer?

Why not read about beer while brewing? Grab one of our educational materials to read until you can grab a glass of beer! These articles will lead you through the path of making beer with useful brewing tips.

All we need is some summery, mouth-watering type of bubbly beer around this time of year. Vacations, garden parties and weddings are coming – it’s good to be prepared with your own craft beer on ice. The next style we’re going to talk about is an interesting type of craft beer. Some say that this is the beverage for people that don’t like craft beer. What? Yes, there are such people around the globe, can you imagine? There are craft beer lovers and there are others who aren’t craft beer lovers YET. t may be hard to convince doubtful beer lovers to switch from commercial ones to handcrafted brewskis, but if we try, perhaps we can open their eyes and they’ll enjoy a nice, cold handcrafted beverage on a drowsy Summer night.

When craft beer does not make me happy 🙁

Okay, not everyone is here for a strong IPA or a full-bodied Porter and it’s for sure that the heavy-tasting, almost coffee-like Stout is may not be the best choice for introducing craft beers to newcomers in this field of nurturing ourselves. But fortunately, we have lighter versions to begin the craft beer journey with. It’s a general supposition that Pilsner goes down well in almost every case, this light German lager doesn’t have a strong character that can easily scare rookies off. Helles beers are similar to Pilsners in this regard and welcome newcomers with their refreshing aroma but easily distinguishable from them with their muted hop character and soft malty accent.

Let’s dive into its history for a brief moment. Bavaria has a brew for every season. We’ve already written about Pilsner and Weizenbock but there are the summery Weissbiers (aka. Wheat beer), the Märzen is ironically an Autumn refreshment, while Bock types are winter and spring-time chills in the Bavarian beer palette. Interesting enough that Munich Helles has outgrown these styles and during the years it evolved into the most common and popular beer.

Pilsner vs. Helles

Helles is a traditional full-bodied and light coloured pale lager (the German word “hell” means “light” or “pale”) with low bitterness and clear appearance. The Munich style Helles is yellow-coloured with bottom-fermenting yeast, bitter hops and an OG between 1.044 and 1.053.

The story began in 1894 when the Spaten Brewery in Munich came out with its new beer in order to compete with the popular Pilsner. In 1872 the Franziskaner-Leist-Brauerei came out with a Helles Export Bier. It wasn’t a Helles to be perfectly honest, but the recipe was very close to what what we call Helles today. In 1893 a paler Pilsner imitation followed the previously mentioned drink, and it was called the Münchner Gold but in the end, the first real Helles was introduced to the world on March 21, 1894, and immediately became a hit in Hamburg where it was sent for market testing.

Soon, Munich’s beer barons realized that the beers of the future were pale, and all brewers started to revise their brewing method but they weren’t that fast doing this. (Paulaner introduced its Helles only in 1928!) The most awkward thing is although Helles and Pilsner are equally popular in Bavaria, sadly in the rest the country, Helles became an almost non-existent style – but don’t fret, the craft beer revolution brought the joy of homebrewing to us, and what can be a better plan than exploring all types of beer while brewing them, right?

How to make your own Helles?

+ this type is still made with the traditional method. Has a minimum of 1.060 OG and the ABV is between 6% and 7%. 
+ the malt composition can be one half of Pilsen, a third of Carapils and the rest can be Munich malt
+ get a light coloured beer at the end that has to be full-bodied, be sure to set the mashing profile right: 20 minutes at 62 Celsius and 60 minutes at 72 Celsius
+ You can smuggle in 5% of Melanoidin malt into the grain bill.
+ We recommend a couple of months of cold aging in a lager yeast environment. 
+ Cold crushing can be done multiple times
+ CG-t tablets can be miraculous with this beer.
+ It should have high CO2 content and a glassy see-through colour.
+ Grain bill: A minimum of 70% Pilsen malt, the rest should be Carapils or Vienna malt.
+ Long mashing, quick fermenting Lager yeast and German aroma hops give it its complexity.

See other articles about beers and how to brew them! Use our brewing tips and choose your next type:


Beer at the push of a button

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