The word Kölsch has several connotations in the German language. If used as a noun, it refers to the distinct Cologne dialect and accent. As an adjective, it means “anything from Cologne.” Thus, it is a local joke that Kölsch is the only language that you can also drink!
The grain bill of the classic copper-colored altbier — which is internationally also known as a German Brown Ale — is almost Munich-like, but with a slightly less “caramelly” character than a Märzen, and less dark than a dunkel. It differs from a Munich brew, however, in its much more pronounced hoppiness. This creates a wonderful blend of malt-and-hop aromas in the finish, which is often described as bitter-sweet. The uniqueness of this beer — an ale after all — comes from the clean fermentation of a relatively cold-tolerant, top-fermenting specialty yeast.
One of Germany’s summer session beers, Kölsch is a fairly recent development by beer-historical standards. The style has no exact birthday, but instead emerged gradually as a beer style in Colgne shortly after World War I. Frequent contributor Horst Dornbusch provides BYO readers with a recipe for this style of beer.
Jamil Zainasheff provides a classic Düsseldorf altbier recipe for readers here. You can find the full Style Profile column in the articles section to delve deeper into this style.
There is a yearly Chicago Homebrew Club Competition sponsored by Bell’s Brewing called Hoptacular and this took second place in 2013, but still a C.H.A.O.S. club favorite and re-brewed several times. We have done lightly rested Bourbon Barrel versions as well.
Dear Replicator, My neighbor and brewing buddy, David Toomes, was visiting relatives in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin a couple of months ago. He texted me to say he had found a beer he just
A traditional German altbier. Owner Jim McCabe’s goal was to have a malt-forward, but well-balanced beer with complex flavors. The blend of Munich, honey, and caramel malts accomplishes this nicely and add earthy and caramel notes.
This light yellow German-style ale is no longer brewed by Thunder Island, but you can brew it at home for a fresh, crisp brew for the summer.
Rogue’s Honey Kölsch is a big time, award-winning honey beer (2016 & 2015 Honey Beer Competition – Gold & Best in Show, 2015 World Beer Championships – Gold, etc.) that represents a true labor of love. As the name suggests, Honey Kölsch benefits from the 100+ colonies of honey bees raised in Rogue Farms own apiary. In addition to the “Rogue Hopyard Honey” and “Rogue Wildflower Honey” used, the recipe also draws upon other ingredients grown on Rogue premises.
According to Goose Island’s website, “With a light fruity aroma and a bright, crisp finish, Goose Island Summertime Kölsch is the perfect summer session ale. A Kölsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of Summertime as much as your do those hot summer days and cool summer nights.”
This golden-straw colored ale is a German-style Kölsch that is light, grassy, and refreshing. Perfect for summer.