A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.
|Country of origin||Germany|
|Alcohol by volume||4.4% - 5.2%|
|Color (SRM)||3.5 - 5|
|Original Gravity||1.044 – 1.050|
|Final Gravity||1.007 – 1.011|
|Malt percentage||usually 100%|
Kölsch is a local specialty beer brewed in Cologne (Köln), Germany. It is clear with a bright, straw-yellow hue, has a prominent but not extreme hoppiness, and is less bitter than the standard German pale lager.
Kölsch is warm fermented at around 13 to 21 °C (55 to 70 °F), then lagered, or conditioned at cold temperatures. This style of fermentation links Kölsch with some other central northern European beers such as the Altbiers of western Germany and the Netherlands.
Kölsch is defined by an agreement between members of the Cologne Brewery Association known as the Kölsch-Konvention. In practice almost all Kölsch brands have a very similar gravity midway between 11 and 16 degrees.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2011)|
In 1396 the Brewer Gaffel and twenty-one other guilds signed the Kölner Verbundbrief setting up a new democratic constitution for the free city of Cologne. It terminated noble rule over the citizens and held until 1796, when Cologne was conquered by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The term Kölsch was first officially used in 1918 to describe the beer that had been brewed by the Sünner brewery since 1906. It was developed from the similar but cloudier variant Wieß (for "white" in the Kölsch dialect). It never became particularly popular in the first half of the twentieth century, when bottom-fermented beers prevailed as in the rest of Germany. Prior to World War II Cologne had over 40 breweries, reduced to two in the devastation and its aftermath.
In 1946 many of the breweries managed to re-establish themselves. During the 1940s and 1950s Kölsch still could not match the sales of bottom-fermented beer, but in the 1960s it began to rise in popularity in the Cologne beer market. From a production of merely 50 million liters in 1960, Cologne's beer production peaked at 370 million liters in 1980. Recent price increases and changing drinking habits have caused economic hardship for many of the traditional corner bars (Kölschkneipen) and smaller breweries. By 2005 output had declined to 240 million litres.
Thirteen breweries produce Kölsch in and around Cologne, anchored by Früh, Gaffel, Reissdorf and Kölner Verbund. There are also smaller brewers, such as Mühlen-Kölsch or Bischoff-Kölsch. In adherence to the Kölsch-Konvention of 1986 Kölsch may not be brewed outside the Cologne region. A few outlying breweries were grandfathered. About ten other breweries in Germany produce beer in Kölsch style, but do not call it Kölsch because they are not members of the convention.
In 1997 Kölsch became a product with protected geographical indication (PGI), expanding protection to the entire EU and several countries beyond it. Exports of Kölsch to the United States, Russia, China and Brazil are increasing. Exported Kölsch does not need to strictly comply with the Provisional German Beer Law, the current implementation of the Reinheitsgebot.
|Brewery||Established||Annual output in hectolitres|
|Gaffel Becker & Co||1908||500,000|
|Cölner Hofbräu Früh||1904||440,000|
Being a PGI product, Kölsch beer is strongly linked to the city of Cologne and its inhabitants. Nearly every smaller bar (Kölschkneipe) in the city serves Kölsch beer. The glasses used for Kölsch differ a great deal from other German beer glasses, as they are of a cylinder form and only incorporate 0.2 liters. They are called Stange, which translates to bar or rod. This type of glass is owed to the fact that Kölsch gets flat quicker than other beers losing its white crest very quickly, too.
Waiters in Cologne are usually called Köbes. Traditionally, they wear blue aprons, a white shirt, a dark blue tie and usually carry a leathern wallet around their hips. The Köbes is known for rather rough manners, chatting loudly in Kölsch dialect. Yet, the Köbes is well-respected and an institution in Cologne and its culture. It is understood to be offensive in Cologne when a guest asks for Alt beer from Düsseldorf, due to a long-lasting rivalry between both cities. Furthermore, a Köbes keeps on serving Kölsch until the guest places the coaster onto the empty glass. Thanks to the small glasses, the work of a Köbes is associated with lots of walking, despite the Kranz wreath.
Wieß (transliterated as Wiess pronounced [ⱱiːs], for "white" in the Kölsch language) is a cloudy, unfiltered version of Kölsch. It had virtually disappeared from the market during most of the 20th century, but has seen a small resurgence in recent years.
Kölsch is a product with protected geographical indication (PGI) per EU law. The Kölsch-Konvention specifically defines the rules to be followed to allow a beer to carry the name Kölsch, which includes that it must be brewed within a 50 km zone around Cologne, Germany.
- The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, produces a rye-flavored Kölsch-style beer, which they promote under the name of "Canoe Paddler" as a seasonal beer.
- Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont produces a seasonal Kölsch-style beer, which they promote under the name of "Ramble".
- Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, Texas is the oldest microbrewery in Texas and produces a Kolsch-style beer called Lawnmower.
- Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Lexington, Kentucky produces a Kölsch-style beer, which won gold for Kölsch-style beer at the Brussels Beer Challenge in December 2013.
- Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska, also makes a Summer Kölsch-style ale,
- In 2015, Samuel Adams Beer made a limited release called "Escape Route", which is an unfiltered Kölsch.
- Gateway Kölsch-style ale is a flagship beer produced by French Broad Brewery in Asheville, N.C.
- Franconia Brewing Company The Koelsch is brewed with Two Row Pale Malt, Malted Wheat, and Munich malt. The special ale yeast is used to give it a hint of citrus aroma and floral smell. The taste is light and refreshing with some citrus in the beginning and a nice dry hoppy finish with a little sweetness coming through at the end.
- 8 Sail Brewery in the United Kingdom brew a 5.0% ABV Kölsch-style beer called 'Sail Away'.
- On 8 May 2014 Oddbins released a Kölsch-style beer in collaboration with Compass Brewery in Oxfordshire called "Oddbins No.2".
- The Free Will Brewing Co. from Perkasie, PA offers a "Kölsch-style ale" called Community Kölsch (4.8% ABV).
- Ray Daniels, Designing Great Beers (Boulder, Colorado: Brewers Publications, 1996), 127-8 and 136-9.
- Bolsover, Catherine (1 October 2011). "Cologne's favorite beer, Kölsch, makes new friends abroad". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
- "Please Verify Your Age - Long Trail". longtrail.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Awarded beers". brusselsbeerchallenge.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Administrator. "Alaskan Brewing Company - Summer Ale". alaskanbeer.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Alles über das Kölner Bier". Michael Berger. Retrieved 2014-02-09. (German language)
- Kölsch-Konvention (German language)
- Website of the Deutscher Brauer-Bund e. V. (German language)
- Brauhaustouren in Köln (German language)
- German Beers (English language)
- Frankfurter Allgemeine Article on the Work of a Köbes (German language)