Disclaimer - Never been to Germany (yet). I know quite a few pretty sharp beer people who have been to Germany and talked about the differences between helles from brewery to brewery, town to town. Zero hop flavor or aroma reported most often obviously, with a few helles showing slight hop flavor and/or aroma. Some maltier than others, some drier, slight color variations within reason, etc. In other words, at least some variation within the style.
My point and question is that, if we accept the premise that brewing helles on a par with the ones brewed in Germany is nearly impossible (and that might be the case), is this a generalized, across the board statement given brewery/regional differences in the style ? Or is it based on comparisons to what the helles experts consider to be one or two of their favorite helles beers in Germany? I consider my helles to be good and evolving, and I'm always looking to make it better. But I also completely agree with others that the setting you drink a beer in can't help but influence your perception of it. Anybody honestly believe that drinking a beer in a Munich biergarten on a sunny day tastes EXACTLY the same as that same exact beer at home on your sofa ? If the extremes are 'nearly impossible to brew an authentic one' on one end and 'setting affects perception' on the other end, I'm betting the truth lies somewhere in between. Still want to make mine better.