What the Hell Is a Kölsch?

Hey even though we act like it, we admit, we don’t know everything. And one thing that’s cool to know more about is the kind of beer that you’re drinking. Each beer style has a back-story – a reason that they came about – and we’ll be bringing you what we know, in the first of this ongoing series.

So (drum roll please…) on to “What the Hell Is a Kölsch?”

tire biteThe Basics:

Kölsch is a classic beer style that was first brewed along the Rhine, in Cologne, Germany. It was originally brewed as competition to Dusseldorf’s very similar Altbier. Kölsch was then seen as a milder option to the standard German pale lager. Wikipedia describes Kölsch as warm-fermented at a temperature around 13 to 21°C (55 to 70°F) and then cold-conditioned, or lagered. It also describes it as “a clear beer with a bright, straw-yellow hue,” and it has “a prominent, but not extreme, hoppiness.” American varieties might vary some as to color and the degree of head but they all share the trademark balance of dryness and sweetness that defines the classic Kölsch. Kölsch beers are generally sessionable, low gravity affairs and many in the states are released as summer brews.

St Arnold Lawnmower-BeerKölsch Brews We Like and You Might Want to Try:

Schlafly Kölsch – Saint Louis, MO

Saint Arnolds Fancy Lawnmower Ale – Houston, TX

Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale – Frederick, MD

Our Take:

There’s no question that the Kölsch style has always been more popular in Germany than it’s been in America, but we think you’re going to see it become more prevalent in the states going forward. Many craft beer fans are finding themselves moving away from higher alcohol beers and at the same time, interest in “sessionable” brews is without a doubt growing. Concurrently, American brewers seem to be rethinking their summer releases lately and are showing a renewed interest in this classic style as an alternative to the pilsners or the lightly hopped summer lagers. Bottom line – we’re going to see more American craft brewers experimenting with the Kölsch style in the future – and its popularity is growing, especially as a summer “alternative.”

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