Kölsch (beer)

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Zunft-Kölsch Glas.JPG
A glass of Kölsch served in the traditional "Stange" glass
Country of origin Germany
Yeast type Top-fermenting
Alcohol by volume 4.4%–5.2%
Bitterness (IBU) 20–30
Original Gravity 1.044–1.050
Final Gravity 1.007–1.011
Malt percentage usually 100%

Kölsch (German pronunciation: [kœlʃ]) is a beer brewed in Cologne, Germany. It is a clear, top-fermented beer with a bright, straw-yellow hue similar to other beers brewed from mainly Pilsener malt.

Kölsch is warm fermented at around 13 to 21 °C (55 to 70 °F), then conditioned by lagering at cold temperatures.[1] 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 (de). It has a gravity between 11 and 16 degrees Plato (specific gravity 1.044 to 1.065).


Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch
10-liter barrels of Kölsch, called "Pittermännchen."

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 more than forty breweries; this number was reduced to two in the devastation and its aftermath.

In 1946, many of the breweries managed to re-establish themselves. In 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 liters.

Thirteen breweries produce Kölsch in and around Cologne, anchored by Früh, Gaffel, Reissdorf and Kölner Verbund (de). There are also smaller brewers, such as Mühlen-Kölsch or Bischoff-Kölsch (de). 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 are not allowed to 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.[2] Exports of Kölsch to the United States, Russia, China and Brazil are increasing.[3] 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
Heinrich Reissdorf 1894 650,000
Gaffel Becker & Co 1908 500,000
Cölner Hofbräu Früh 1904 440,000


Wieß (de) (transliterated as Wiess pronounced [viːs], for "white" in the Kölsch dialect) is a cloudy, unfiltered version of Kölsch.

Outside Germany[edit]

Kölsch is a product which has a protected geographical indication (PGI) per EU law.[2] The Kölsch Konvention (de) defines rules to be followed to allow a beer to carry the name "Kölsch." Such beer must be brewed within a 50 km zone around Cologne, Germany.

  • 54'40' Brewing Company in Washougal, WA brews a Kölsch style ale named "Kascadia".
  • Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska, also makes a summer Kölsch-style ale,[4]
  • Asher Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, produces an organic Kölsch-style beer [5]
  • Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, produces an organic Kölsch-style lagered ale, "Beau's Lug-Tread"[6] In 2006, Beau's coined the term Lagered Ale to describe their version of the Kölsch-style beer. [7][8]
  • Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh, North Carolina makes a Kölsch-style ale called "Angry Angel".[9]
  • Blackwater Draw in Bryan, Texas makes a Kölsch called Mulligan with the slogan "Go Ahead and Take Another".
  • Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri, brews a Koln style golden ale called American Kolsch.
  • Braindead Brewing in Dallas, TX offers Main Street Kölsch
  • CaliCraft Brewing in Walnut Creek, Ca, makes a Cali Coast Kolsch.
  • Center of the Universe Brewing Company in Ashland, Virginia brews a Kölsch-style beer called Slingshot Kölsch.
  • Clown Shoes Beer from Cliffton Park, NY brews a Kölsch-style beer with natural mango juice.[10]
  • Cowbell Brewing Company in Blyth, Ontario brews a Kölsch-style beer called Absent Landlord.[11]
  • Brasserie l'Espace Public, HOMA, Québec, produces Kölschlaga. ABV: 4.5%
  • Eventide Brewing in the Grant Park Neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia produces a Kölsch-style beer.[12]
  • Fort Point Beer Company in the Presidio in San Francisco, Ca, brews a Kolsch named KSA.
  • Franconia Brewing from McKinney, Texas brews a traditional Kolsch-style beer. - http://www.franconiabrewing.com/
  • Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester, NY brews a special edition "Ruby Red" Kolsch.
  • The Great Beer Company in Chatsworth, CA brews an authentic German-style Kölsch called Hollywood Blonde.
  • Heroic Aleworks in Woodbridge, VA brew a Kolsch style beer called Solasta. [13]
  • Iron Horse Brewery of Ellensburg, WA has a year-round Kölsch style beer named "Life Behind Bars"
  • Iron Spike Brewing Company of Galesburg, IL has a kolsch-style beer named, "Konductor"
  • 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.[14]
  • Josephsbrau, the store-brand brewery for Trader Joe's, brews a seasonal Kölsch-style ale, at 4.8% ABV, under the name of "Summer Brew"[15]
  • Kalona Brewing Company, Kalona, Iowa, brews a seasonal honey Kölsch ale from July-October named Free Range.
  • Karbach Brewing Company in Houston, Texas produces a 4.9% ABV Kölsch-style beer called "Love Street".[16]
  • Lake Superior Brewing Company in Duluth, Minnesota brews a Kölsch-style beer called Kayak Kölsch, which was awarded a silver medal at the World Beer Championship. [17]
  • Lakewood Brewing in Garland, Texas brews a Kolsch style beer they named "All Call".
  • Land-Grant Brewing Co. from Columbus, Ohio has an "American-type" Kölsch-style beer called "1862 Ale" (4.9% ABV).[18]
  • Left Handed Giant Brewing Company in Bristol produces a Kölsch-style beer called Kolsssh. [19]
  • 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.[20]
  • Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont produces a seasonal Kölsch-style beer, which they promote under the name of "Ramble".[21]
  • Magnolia Brewery in San Francisco, California makes a Kölsch-style ale called "Kalifornia Kölsch".[22]
  • Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, North Carolina brew a Kölsch-style Ale named "Endless River."[23]
  • Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario brews a Kölsch style beer named "Kirby's Kölsch".
  • Newburyport Brewing Company in Newburyport, Massachusetts produces a Kölsch-style beer, Das Kölsch, containing 5% ABV.
  • Old Town Brewing Company in Portland, OR brews a Kölsch style ale named Sun Dazed, which was awarded a silver medal in the Great American Beer Festival and silver Award in the World Beer Cup. [24]
  • Ordnance Brewing Co., Boardman, Oregon. ABV: 5.5%, IBU: 16
  • Orono Brewing Company. Orono, Maine. They brew a German-Style named, "AOK Kolsch"- ABV: 4.7%, IBU: 18. Uses a German Heidelberg Pilsner malt [25]
  • Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville, Iowa brews a Kölsch style beer, Sure Shot.
  • Ryan Brewing Company in Roscoe, IL brews their "Wandsbecker KöLSCH", which is a traditional Kölsch-style beer.
  • Sactown Union Brewery in Sacramento, CA brews a traditional Köln-style Ale called "#KöLSCH," using water that has been stripped down to its bare essentials, then rebuilt to match the minerality of the water table in Köln, Germany for an authentic flavor.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX brews a true German-style Kölsch called Fancy Lawnmower. They also brew a black Kölsch called Santo.
  • Saint Louis Brewery, in St. Louis, MO brews a German-style Kölsch named "Schlafly Kölsch" which won the 2010 Gold Medal for Best German-style Kölsch in the World Beer Cup. [26]
  • Samuel Adams (beer)'s Escape Route is an unfiltered Kölsch-style beer.[27]
  • Tatamagouche Brewing Company, in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada, makes a kolsh style called North Shore Lagered Ale
  • Uncle Leo's, in Lyon's Brook, Nova Scotia, Canada, makes a kolsch style called Ceilidh Ale
  • White Street Brewing in Youngsville, North Carolina brews a Kölsch-style beer.
  • The Zeelandt Brewing company in Esk Valley Near Napier produces a Kölsch-style beer called Kolsch [28]
  • Spoetzl brewery "shiner" in Shiner, Texas produces mango kolsch.


  • Blue Island Beer Co. in Blue Island, IL brews a Kolsch ale called 5 Bridges.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ray Daniels, Designing Great Beers (Boulder, Colorado: Brewers Publications, 1996), 127-8 and 136-9.
  2. ^ a b http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1997:322:0033:0035:DE:PDF
  3. ^ Bolsover, Catherine (1 October 2011). "Cologne's favorite beer, Kölsch, makes new friends abroad". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Administrator. "Alaskan Brewing Company - Summer Ale". alaskanbeer.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  5. ^ http://asherbrewing.com/organic-beer/green-lantern-organic-kolsch/
  6. ^ http://beaus.ca/beer/lug-tread/
  7. ^ "Take a trip to this town's mini beer fest | Metro News". metronews.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  8. ^ "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  9. ^ http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/15189/43208/
  10. ^ https://www.clownshoesbeer.com/cs_beer/mango/
  11. ^ https://www.cowbellbrewing.com/beer/absent-landlord
  12. ^ http://eventidebrewing.com/beer/eventide-kolsh/
  13. ^ http://heroicaleworks.com/beers/solasta/
  14. ^ http://leinie.com/Beers.aspx#canoepaddler
  15. ^ https://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/1760
  16. ^ http://www.karbachbrewing.com/beers/love-street
  17. ^ "Lake Superior Brewing Company". www.lakesuperiorbrewing.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12. 
  18. ^ https://landgrantbrewing.com/beer/1862-ale/
  19. ^ http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/left-handed-giant-kolsssh/420615/
  20. ^ "Awarded beers". brusselsbeerchallenge.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  21. ^ "Please Verify Your Age - Long Trail". longtrail.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  22. ^ https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/463/17590/
  23. ^ http://www.motherearthbrewing.com/beer/endless-river
  24. ^ http://www.otbrewing.com/home.html
  25. ^ http://oronobrewing.com/beer-type/aok-kolsch/
  26. ^ http://schlafly.com/beers/styles/kolsch/
  27. ^ http://authoring.samueladams.com/craft-beers/escape-route
  28. ^ http://zeelandt.co.nz/product/kolsch-craft-beer/

External links[edit]