Helles is a good beer for summer

Good for camping, Canada day celebrations, and all
your favourite summer events

Time for another recipe/tasting notes thread. This is yet another beer in my series of “experiments” with warm-fermented lagers. The first and second brews worked out very well, and this third attempt was also a “Helles” of a success…and in case the corny post title and intro paragraph didn’t give it away, this time around I brewed a helles.

For those unfamiliar with a helles, its a good summer beer – it has shades of a BMC beer, but has flavour and can legitimately be called a beer. The main focus in a helles is the pilsner malt; the bready malt note should be in the forefront. It is lightly hopped with a bittering charge – no flavour or aroma additions – with just enough bitterness added to balance out the malt-sweetness.

As the description suggests, this is a simple beer. My recipe is a little more complex than most, largely because I like a little extra maltiness than is normal, and because I replicate the effect of a decoction by adding a small amount of melanoidin and carafoam malts.

The recipe and tasting notes can be found below the fold, but the short version would be that this is a damned good beer



  • OG: 1.047
  • FG: 1.009
  • Bitterness: 20 IBU
  • Colour: 4 SRM


  • 90% Pilsner Malt
  • 6% Munich Malt
  • 2.6% Melanoidin Malt
  • 1.4% Carafoam
  • 20 IBU of Hallertauer, Northern Brewer or other German hop
  • Irish moss or whirflock
  • Lager yeast (I used W34/70)
  • Single infusion mash, 64.4C (148 F), 90 min
Boil for 1 hour, add irish moss 10 min before end of boil, cool and pitch yeast.
Fermentation Profile:
I performed another “warm” lager ferment; yeast were pitched into cellar-temperature wort (~16C/61F) and the wort temperature allowed to free-rise/fall. Fermentation was done in 2 weeks, but was left for an additional week due to work stuff getting in the way of kegging. Beer was cold-crashed, gelatinized and kegged and carbonated to ~2/5 volumes.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Beer is a light copper in colour. Pours clear (the picture is misleading; the haze is condensation on the glass) with a modest white head.

Aroma: A pure, clean aroma of pilsner malt – bready & malty. Minimal yeast character, despite the warm fermentation.

Flavour: Malt-forward, with a clear and singular pilsner/grainy note. The munich and other malts don’t stand out much, but instead enhance the malt character of the pilsner malt. The hop bitterness is present but subdued, acting to balance out the malt sweetness while still retaining a malt-forward flavour profile. Aftertaste is a lingering bread/grain note, with a subtle sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Light body, but far from thin. Effervescent & whetting.

Overall: This is a simple beer, but it is the simplicity of this beer that makes it such a joy to drink. The malt character is the star of the show; every aspect of the recipe is designed to highlight the malt – so make sure you brew with a quality pilsner malt and do not overdo the addition the other grains or hops. The low mash temp worked well, preventing the beer from being sweet while still maintaining a nice malt note. A very tasty, and sessionable lager.

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