Helles (pronounced "HELL-us") is a pale golden lager that is the everyday session beer of Bavaria, Germany. The German word “hell” or “Helles” simply means “pale.” In most German-speaking regions ordering a “Helles” or “ein bier, bitte” in a pub would simply produce the standard light-coloured beer on tap, which is, more often than not, a Pils or pilsner. But in Bavaria, style definitions are more differentiated. There, the order of “ein bier, bitte” would most likely be followed by the probing question, “And which beer do you want?”
A Bavarian Helles is considerably lower in bitterness than a German Pils. It is lighter in body and character than a märzen. Helles is a medium-bodied, usually straw-blonde beer with an emphasis on clean, bready, malt flavours and floral hop aromas with mild bitterness. In Bavaria, many consider Helles the very essence of the summer beer garden. The best have a slightly sulfurous character reminiscent of brewery fermentation rooms.