Thunder Island Brewery Vitamin K Kölsch: Replicator

Dear Replicator,
While hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a buddy, we found Thunder Island Brewery in the small town of Cascade Locks, Oregon. All the beers were good but the Vitamin K Kölsch was great. They only sell it at their brewery and my homebrew store in Seattle doesn’t know anything about it. I’m hoping you can get them to give up some details.
Michael Tuchardt
Bellevue, Washington

A 45-mile drive east of Portland down the beautiful Columbia River Gorge gets you to Cascade Locks and, as I discovered, a little brewery that is rapidly becoming a beer destination.

Owners David Lipps and Daniel Hynes met in Santa Cruz, California six years ago and discovered a shared passion for craft beers. David eventually migrated to Portland, Oregon and reconnected with Dan, who began homebrewing in 2004. It only seemed natural they would begin homebrewing together in a city known as “Beervana.” Cranking out 10-gallon (38-L) batches with their gravity-fed three-tier system they soon began producing more beer than they could drink (to the benefit of friends and neighbors). Eventually they decided to take the jump to a commercial brewpub.

But first, David combined his goal of biking around New Zealand with brewery research. He visited 37 breweries, met the brewers and applied for entry-level jobs at each one. He eventually snagged a job as assistant brewer at Crouchers Brewery in the town of Rotarua on the north island.

Armed with some large-scale brewing experience, he returned to Portland where he and Dan developed a business plan, located a vacant portion of the city maintenance building in Cascade Locks and thus began their official brewery business. The first batch, a nice pale ale, was brewed March 28, 2012.

Their brewing equipment is unique in several respects. The mash and boil kettles are 60-gallon (227-L), steam jacketed, commercial soup kettles. They have had the bottom of the outer jacket wall cut to accommodate a large propane burner. The mash tun has been coated with spray foam insulation to help hold mash temperatures steady. The two fermenters are single-wall soup kettles that have lock down lids to hold pressure. What makes it extra special is that this is the first time the same brew system has twice been featured in my articles. I first wrote about it in November 2010 in conjunction with M.T. Head Brewery in Graham, Washington. Dave and Dan purchased it when M.T. Head Owner Tim Rockey upgraded to a new 7-barrel system.

As one of four beers in their regular lineup, the Kölsch is in high demand. The Kölsch is a straw golden color that displays very good clarity and is a good representation of the style. A bright white head laces the glass all the way to the bottom. Aroma is all light malt with just a hint of sweet fruit. The base malt flavor profile really comes through with the Munich malt providing the extra body. Hop bitterness is almost undetectable but is just enough to offer the needed balance. Dan advises to condition this beer an extra week or two to really allow the flavors to develop.

Thunder Island Brewing Company’s Vitamin K Kölsch clone

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.045 FG = 1.010 IBU = 22 SRM = 4 ABV = 4.6%


3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg ) Muntons extra light, unhopped, liquid malt extract
0.75 lbs. (0.34 kg) Muntons light dried malt extract
2 lbs. (0.9 kg) 2-row pale malt
8 oz. (0.23 kg) white wheat malt
8 oz. (0.23 kg) Munich malt
8 AAU Magnum hop pellets (50 min.)
(0.65 oz./18 g at 12.3% alpha acids)
½ tsp. Irish moss (30 min.)
½ tsp. yeast nutrient (15 min.)
White Labs WLP029 (German Ale/Kölsch) or Wyeast 2565 (Kölsch) yeast
Priming sugar (if bottling)

Step by Step

Steep the crushed grain in 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of water at 150 ºF (66 ºC) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from the wort and rinse with 2 quarts (1.9 L) of hot water. Add the malt extracts and boil for 60 minutes. Add the hops, Irish moss, and yeast nutrient as per the schedule. When done, add the wort to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cold water in a sanitized fermenter and top off with cold water up to 5 gallons (19 L).

Cool the wort to 75 ºF (24 ºC). Pitch your yeast and aerate the wort heavily. Allow the beer to cool to 68 ºF (20 ºC). Hold at that temperature until fermentation is complete. Transfer to a carboy, avoiding any splashing to prevent aerating the beer. Allow the beer to condition 1 week and then bottle or keg. Allow the beer to carbonate and age for 3 weeks and enjoy your Vitamin K Kölsch clone.

All-grain option:
This is a single step infusion mash using an additional 6.5 lbs. (2.9 kg) 2-row pale malt to replace the liquid and dry malt extracts. Mix all of the crushed grains with 3.5 gallons (13 L) of 170 °F (77 °C) water to stabilize at 150 ºF (66 ºC) for 60 minutes. Slowly sparge with 175 ºF (79 ºC) water. Collect approximately 6 gallons (23 L) of wort runoff to boil for 60 minutes. Reduce the 50-minute Magnum hop addition to 0.5 oz./14g (6.2 AAU) to allow for the higher utilization factor of a full wort boil. The remainder of this recipe and procedures are the same as the extract with grains recipe.

Issue: May-June 2014