Type of Berlin Beer: Helles

Every other week we explore one of the many varieties of beer you’re likely to come across in Berlin. We’ll explain its distinctive characteristics and teach you a little brewing history. Soon you’ll be impressing your friends with your ability to work the subject of yeast into just about any conversation. Finally we’ll give you a few suggestions on where you can do some research on your own. That’s right. Homework. Delicious, delicious homework.

The taste: crisp, low bitterness
The color: pale yellow
The body: light

Helles are a simple, light, drinkable all day long style of beer. They’re like a bottled haiku, structured, minimal and tastefully crafted. If you want to swing around a Maß at the beergarden, then fill it with Helles. Although it may sound like the plural of flaming underworld, helles simply means light in German. Popular helles are produced primarily in Bavaria and by breweries such as Augustiner, Weihenstephaner, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu.

As brewing techniques improved and evolved, brewers began producing beers with lighter hops. They looked and tasted more elegant than previous styles and these golden colored beers rose in popularity. For awhile, the Pilsner style of beers, produced in Bohemia, dominated the markets but nearby Bavarian brewers were busy coming up with a domestic rival. Their hard work paid off in 1894 when helles was introduced to a population that simply adored it.

The process of making this style of beer does not allow for shortcuts or mistakes. Brewers of helles have long standing traditions and well deserved pride in their craft. That makes this an unusual choice of beer in a city that reinvents itself every couple of weeks. No need to go to Bavaria though, since Bavaria has come to Berlin. Here are three great spots to try a helles in Berlin. And also some of the few places anywhere you will see servers with tattoos and piercings wearing lederhosen or durndels.

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt

Located near one or Berlin’s most beautiful squares, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a liter of beautiful beer. Augustiner is one of the most popular breweries in Germany and you’ll find out why once you’ve tried their beers. You can also enjoy Bavarian dishes like beer cheese and pork knuckle here. Location: Charlottenstraße 55


We often hear in Berlin it is easier to find Italian or Indian food than it is to find German food. Nestled between all the restaurants serving tapas and pasta in Hackersher Markt you’ll find the rustic charm of Weihenstephaner and their traditional Bavarian menu including traditional Bavarian style beers. Location: Neue Promenade 5


Excellent beers on tap and plenty of filling dishes on the menu. This is a great spot if you want to experience the German beer gardens but are getting rained out. Plenty of indoor seating and sausages to go around. Location: Friedrichstraße 185-190

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