Helles or hell is a traditional German pale lager beer, produced chiefly in Southern Germany, particularly Munich. The German word hell can be translated as "bright", "light", or "pale".

A glass of helles

Flavour profile

Helles-style beers typically are full-bodied, mildly sweet and light-coloured, with low bitterness. The beer is clear due to filtration prior to bottling,[1] although some restaurants and breweries do offer an unfiltered version.[2][3] Munich-style helles is a yellow beer brewed using cool fermentation with a lager yeast such as Saccharomyces pastorianus, bitter hops such as Hallertau hops, and an original specific gravity (prior to fermentation) between 1.044 and 1.053 (11 to 13 degrees plato), and between 4.5 and 6% alcohol by volume. Helles has a less pronounced hop flavour than pilsner beers.[1]


Until the 1960s, Helles was universally available in German-speaking regions. In many regions, Helles was slowly replaced by pilsner-style beers,[4] which was also driven by changing consumer preferences from draft beer to bottled beer. In regions outside of Southern Germany, Helles is regaining popularity, particularly Berlin, where the beer's traditional image has become trendy.[5]


Helles enjoys great popularity in the Southern German regions of Bavaria, Franconia, and Baden-Württemberg. It can be referred to as Helles, Spezial, Landbier, "Munich lager", or "export". No clear distinction is drawn between lager and export, although export typically is closer in style to Dortmunder Export, which has a slightly higher ABV of 5.5% for extended shelf life.[1]


  • Andechser Hell
  • Augustiner-Bräu Lagerbier Hell
  • Ayinger Lager Hell
  • Bayreuther Hell
  • Chiemseer Hell
  • Dinkelacker Hell
  • Erdinger Brauhaus Helles
  • Flötzinger Hell
  • Giesinger Münchner Hell
  • Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Helles
  • Hofbräu München Original
  • Kichesippi Beer Co. Heller Highwater
  • Löwenbräu Original
  • Oberdorfer Helles
  • Nashville Brewing Company's Nashville Original Lager
  • Paulaner Münchner Hell
  • Spaten Münchner Hell
  • Schönramer Hell
  • Stiegl Hell
  • Tegernseer Hell
  • Weihenstephaner Original
  • Ølsnedkeren Sikkert og vist
  • Penn Brewery Gold
  • Tonewood Brewing Lumberyard

See also


  1. Jositz, Heinrich (n.d.). "Kleine feine Bierkunde". davidgiacomo.com. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  2. "Helles & Dunkles: Die besten Berliner Bier-Brauereien, Brauhäuser & Biergärten". Berliner Morgenpost. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  3. Schanzenbräu Hell
  4. Geyer, Tim (n.d.). "Pils oder Helles: Wo liegt der Unterschied?". derberater.de. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  5. Baumstieger, Moritz (20 June 2010). "Augustiner in Berlin: Ein Helles, bitte". tagesspiegel.de. Der Tagesspiegel. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
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