The Kölsch ( “cœll - shh” ) brew is an obscure style that originates from Köln (“Cologne”), Germany. This region gained Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in 1997 by the Kölsch Konvention which is comprised of around 20 breweries within Köln. Although these breweries all make Kölsch beers, it is tough to designate exact specifications for the style since each brewery has their own interpretation of the brew. The Konvention’s description of the beer is “light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear, top-fermenting Vollbier”. In other words, you should expect a wide range of disparity when you order one of these beers.
Don’t let the mysterious nature of this beer fool you! It is one in only a handful of traditional German Ales produced and is the only genuine all-barley, pale ale made in Germany. Even though it is not widely popular throughout Germany, it is the number one beer in it’s hometown of Köln and is recognized as one of the major brew styles of the world. Even though some brewpubs in America have tried their hand in crafting this elusive style of beer (you can find some of these featured in our beer of the month club), the true German Kölschs are only intermittently available in the US.
This beer is extremely pale and is light golden in color (at its darkest) with exceptional clarity and a wispy, quick-vanishing white head. The aromas of apple, pear, cherry and other fruits are paired with an occasional faint hops undertone that seems to match its light and airy appearance. The flavors can vary from subtle malt to fruity sweet and even a slight tangy bitterness. However, overall, Kölschs are soft and delicate with a balanced palate and gentle dryness that hangs on into the finish. Some variations may even have yeasty characters on the nose and mild wheat or grape-like flavors. The mouthfeel is rounded on the tongue and has a silky, even texture. These beers can range from having a medium-light to medium body and will generally have a higher level of carbonation.
Traditionally, Kölsch beers are always served in a Stange glass that is 6 inches tall, 2 inches wide and straight-sided, which is fitting as “Stange” means “pole” or “stick” in German. These beers have an ABV range of 4.4 - 5.2% and IBU’s of 20 - 30. This is a style to remember for those hot summer days.
Our monthly Craft Beer Club has featured several American versions of the German Kölsch. Two of which have won multiple gold medals for their brewmaster’s efforts. Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Texas was awarded 2 Gold Medals for their “Fancy Lawnmower” Kölsch along with Blackstone Brewing Company in Tennessee who won 2 Gold Medals for their “Chaser Pale” Kölsch. We have had great customer reviews for these beers and will surely feature the furtive brew style in our future monthly beer club shipments.
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