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Kölsch Beers-A Complete Guide

Kölsch beer brewed in Cologne, Germany; is a hybrid beverage incorporating the characteristics of both ale and lager fermentation like a California Common (Steam Beer). The beer style is different from others as its ale is brewed with top-fermenting yeast usually at warmer temperatures (like IPAs) whereas its lager is brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures (like Pilsners).

Pilsners or Vienna malt, German Noble hops are used to make this beer. The delicate malt and hops flavors making this beverage crisp, dry and super-refreshing drink perfect for warm summer days is brewed according to the Kölsch Konvention may be called a Kölschhe

Traditionally, Kölsch beer is served in a tall, thin, cylindrical 20 cl glass called Stange. The preferred temperature to serve this beer is 400-450 F.

A Brief History of Kölsch

 In the early 17th century, the growing interest and popularity of bottom-fermented beers in Cologne threatened the business of Cologne brewers producing top-fermented beers only. Thus, the town council of Cologne compelled the young brewers to swear an oath: “that you prepare your beer, as of old, from good malt, good cereals, and good hops, well-boiled, and that you pitch it with top-yeast, and by no means with bottom yeast.”

So, the Cologne brewers competed against bottom-fermented beers using hybridized brewing process; brewing their beers using top-fermented yeast firstly and ageing their beers in cold cellars.

This type of beer was referred to as Kölsch beer for the first time in 1918. Since 1997, the term “Kölsch” has had Protected geographical indication (PGI) within European Union. The original Kölsch beer is brewed according to the Kölsch Konvention within 50km/30 miles of Cologne city.

Yet, due to craft brewing this beer style is popularly brewing in the other parts of the world except for Cologne.

Kölsch Beer Style (Ref. Bloomburg)

  • Reissdorf Kölsch  

Heinrich Reissdorf Brewery established in 1894; brews one of the authentic Kölsch beer at the highest production. It is also one of the best-selling Kölsch beers in the world. This beer style is brewed at top-fermented yeast for eight days then aged in cold cellars for about 4 weeks. It’s faintly malty and soft throughout and finishes with a nice dry hop. This beer is served in its signature 7oz. glass. ABV is 4.8% and priced at 5-6 $ for 500 ml.

  • Gaffel Kölsch

This is another classic signature Kölsch beer brewed under the German Beer Purity Law 1516. This family recipe dates back to 1908 is quite popular for its particular freshness. This is a delicate, easy-drinking beer finished with pleasantly grassy hoppiness. ABV is 4.8% and priced at 4$ for 750ml.

  • Früh Kölsch

The Cologne’s third-largest Kölsch producer offers the lightest beer in the traditional style. The innocent notes of floral and hay have a fugitive effect. It depicts a golden-yellowish colour with a  small crown made of white foam. This light-bodied beer provides a crisp notion to the palate and the effervesce is just simply soothing. ABV is 4.8% priced at 3.49$ for 750ml.

Food Pairing

Kölsch beer perfectly complements delicate foods such as salads, lobster, light fish and shrimps. When paired with omelettes or smoked salmon, it makes a great brunch beer. Also, in summer meals Germans pair them with pork, especially grilled pork chop.

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