Helles-style beers typically are full-bodied, mildly sweet, and light-colored, with low bitterness. The beer is clear due to filtration prior to bottling, although some restaurants and breweries do offer an unfiltered version. Munich-style Helles is a yellow beer brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast, 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 flavor than pilsner beers.
Until the 1960s, Helles were universally available in German-speaking regions. In many regions, Helles was slowly replaced by Pilsner-style beers, 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.
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.