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It is still scorching hot out there so this week's Beer Style of the Week will continue the trend of
lighter-colored refreshing ales for summer drinking. This week's beer style is the German-style Kolsch ale. This is one of many classic German-style ales brewed with Pilsner malts, traditionally. It is a warm-fermented, cold-aged ale. Generally light in color, this refreshing ale is great year round but is even better in the summer in my opinion. I have tasted a few Kolsch over the years and have not been disappointed once. I have yet to make a traditional Kolsch ale, but have used many of the ingredients and techniques used for this style. As I expand ever further into brewing traditional German beer, this one will definitely be very high on the list. As always, I will give you the published guidelines first, then give you my thoughts and impressions of some I have consumed. First up, the guidelines:

 

Here are the stylistic guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) 2008 Style
Guidelines publication.

 

6C. Kolsch

Aroma: Very low to no Pils malt aroma. A pleasant, subtle fruit aroma from fermentation (apple, cherry or pear) is acceptable, but not always present. A low noble hop aroma is optional but not
out of place (it is present only in a small minority of authentic versions). Some yeasts may give a slight winy or sulfury character (this characteristic is also optional, but not a fault).

 

Appearance: Very pale gold to light gold. Authentic versions are filtered to a brilliant clarity. Has a delicate white head that may not persist.


Flavor: Soft, rounded palate comprising of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium
bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight pucker in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste). The noble hop flavor is variable, and can range from low to moderately high; most are medium-low to medium. One or two examples (Dom being the most prominent) are noticeably malty-sweet up front. Some versions can have a slightly minerally or sulfury water or yeast character that accentuates the dryness and flavor balance. Some versions may have a slight wheat taste, although this is quite rare. Otherwise very clean with no diacetyl or fusels.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp. Medium-light body, although a few versions may be medium. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Generally well-attenuated.

 

Overall Impression: A clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas. Subdued maltiness throughout leads to a pleasantly refreshing tang in the finish. To the untrained taster easily mistaken for a light lager, a somewhat subtle Pilsner, or perhaps a blonde ale.

History: Kolsch is an appellation protected by the Kolsch Konvention, and is restricted to the 20 or so breweries in and around Cologne (Koln). The Konvention simply defines the beer as a "light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear top-fermenting Vollbier."

 

Comments: Served in a tall, narrow 200ml glass called a "Stange." Each Koln brewery produces a beer of different character, and each interprets the Konvention slightly differently. Allow for a range of variation within the style when judging. Note that drier versions may seem hoppier or more bitter than the IBU specifications might suggest. Due to its delicate flavor profile, Kolsch tends to have a relatively short shelf-life; older examples can show some oxidation defects. Some Koln breweries (e.g., Dom, Hellers) are now producing young, unfiltered versions known as Wiess (which should not be entered in this category).


Ingredients: German noble hops (Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt or Hersbrucker). German Pils or pale malt. Attenuative, clean ale yeast. Up to 20% wheat may be used, but this is quite rare in authentic versions. Water can vary from extremely soft to moderately hard. Traditionally uses a step mash program, although good results can be obtained using a single rest at 149 F. Fermented at cool ale temperatures (59-65 F) and lagered for at least a month, although many Cologne brewers ferment at 70 F and lager for no more than two weeks.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.044 - 1.050

IBUs: 20 - 30

FG: 1.007 - 1.011

SRM: 3.5 - 5

ABV: 4.4 - 5.2%

 

Commercial Examples: Available in Cologne only: PJ Fruh, Hellers, Malzmuhle, Paeffgen, Sion, Peters, Dom

Import versions available in parts of North America: Reissdorf, Gaffel


Non-German versions: Eisenbahn Dourada, Goose Island Summertime, Alaska Summer Ale, Harpoon Summer Beer, New Holland Lucid, Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower, Capitol City Capitol Kolsch, Shiner Kolsch

 Here are the stylistic guidelines from the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.

45. German-Style Kolsch

 

Kolsch is warm fermented and aged at cold temperatures (German ale or alt-style beer). Kolsch is characterized by a golden to straw color and a slightly dry, subtly sweet softness on the palate, yet crisp. Good, dense head retention is desirable. A light fruitiness may be apparent, but is not necessary for this style. Caramel character should not be evident. The body is light to medium-light. This beer has low hop flavor and aroma with medium bitterness. Wheat can be used in brewing this beer. Ale yeast is used for fermentation, though lager yeast is sometimes used in the bottle or final cold conditioning process. Fruity esters should be minimally perceived, if at all. Chill haze should be absent.


Original Gravity (Plato): 1.042-1.048 (10.5-12 Plato)  Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (Plato): 1.006-1.010 (1.5-2.5 Plato)  Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.8-4.2% (4.8-5.3%)  Bitterness (IBU): 18-25  Color SRM (EBC): 4-6 (8-12 EBC)

Now some of my tidbits of information, opinion, and recent tastings. German Kolsch is a great summer beer for everyone. A perfect lawnmower beer! They are mild in color, flavor, mouthfeel, and hop aroma or bitterness. They are not heavy like some other traditional German-style beers. The crispness is quite refreshing and will not give you that "heavy" or "full" feeling after drinking
one. With considerable lower alcohol content than many other beers out there, it makes for a perfect session beer for consumption. The hint of sulfur is a bit reminiscent of other German beers and lighter lagers and can be appealing to fans. Kolsch is another gateway beer to get drinkers of the mass-produced American light lagers to drink craft beer. When traditionally served in the smaller glasses known for this style, you end up drinking more glasses (but
generally don't end up paying more, they should be charging less per glass). 

 

I have tried and enjoyed the Capital City Capitol Kolsch, the Alaskan Summer Ale, the Shiner Kolsch, Harpoon Summer Beer, and several from a variety of Colorado craft breweries (Dry Dock Brewing, Prost Brewing, Steamworks Brewing). You can find some of these beers from the larger breweries in well-stocked across the country. Not a lot of breweries make them but when you can find Kolsch, give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.

 

On to NFL news:

 

Another New England Patriot was recently arrested. This time it was defensive back Alfonzo Dennard. He was arrested in Nebraska for suspicion of DUI. Nice!

 

Two Denver Broncos executives were recently arrested, both for DUI. Doubly Nice!!

 

If you get a chance, check out his cool link from The Sports Geeks. http://arrests.thesportsgeeks.com/

 

It is a great graphic showing the number of arrests per NFL team since 2000. It lists the player, the offense and some other interesting information. One of my personal favorites is former Green Bay Packers running back Najeh Davenport's arrest in 2002 for breaking into a
dormitory room of a Florida woman and defecating in her closet! I guess Najeh just couldn't carry the load or maybe he just had to drop the load or (insert feces pun here)...

 

The New York Giants are facing a tough decision real soon. After signing Victor Cruz to a long-term big contract, they now need to address extensions for both wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Personally, I would pay Pierre-Paul the big money and let Nicks
walk when his contract expires. The skills and level of play by Pierre-Paul, I think, are better in the long run for a team facing salary cap issues.

 

Just my opinion...



There will not be a Beer Style of the Week next week. I will be in Chicago for the Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field. Hopefully I will have some new beer adventures, a new craft brewery to review, or some new mind-blowing beer to tell you about.
July 12, 2013  04:57 PM ET

No Beer Style of the Week next week??.. maybe the best news I heard all week.. just my opinion

July 12, 2013  08:16 PM ET

Very informative, and more creative than the summer filler, "Childhood Photos of Famous Athletes." Thanks anyway, SI, don't really need to see Mr. Rodgers first-grade photo, or current grinning, for that matter.

If I had my druthers (There's a good beer name, beats "Fat Tire," "Spotted Cow" and about 1000 more of those crafty, way-expensive brew names cluttering the shelves today), I'd want a weekly report here at Fannation about the best beer (& soda pop) deals regionally for famous lagers, pilsners and light beers, the favorite beer-style of your regular American beer-drinker. Something like, 'Best 12-pak (30-pak) Buy of the Week,' with NFL injury & telecast updates included. What do ya' think?

July 13, 2013  08:02 AM ET

Wild Fan, if you dislike the blog that much, just stop reading. Just trying to provide some information for people that might want to drink something other than mass-produced crappy beer and expand their horizons.

July 13, 2013  09:17 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Wild Fan, if you dislike the blog that much, just stop reading. Just trying to provide some information for people that might want to drink something other than mass-produced crappy beer and expand their horizons.

Doc.. no offense.. I was just joking.. most of your posts are informative.. there are some good brews out there.. if you know where to look.. but when styles are limited.. you got to go with what you can get when you can get it

 
July 13, 2013  12:59 PM ET

All cool Wild Fan! it is unfortunate that in rural areas and some other locales that the only beer available is mass-produced Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch. Unfortunately, most states have laws that are prohibitive to craft brewers selling their beer in wide distribution, or that the big breweries have cornered all shelf space, or craft brewers are taxed differently than the big ones. Hopefully, everyone reading this does have the capability of purchasing craft beer, trying it and becoming a fan.

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