Kölsch (beer)

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A Stange of Kölsch beer.jpg
A glass of Kölsch in Aachen
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 litres.

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 [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[when?] years.

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.

  • [ In the UK Michael Nolan and Steve Sutton managed to drink a combined 42.5 litres at the Liverpool Craft Beer Festival in June 2017.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX brews a true German-style Kölsch called Fancy Lawnmower. They also brew a black Kölsch called Santo.
  • 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.
  • The Great Beer Company in Chatsworth, CA brews an authentic German-style Kölsch called Hollywood Blonde.
  • Samuel Adams (beer)'s Escape Route is an unfiltered Kölsch-style beer.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • Newburyport Brewing Company in Newburyport, Massachusetts produces a Kölsch-style beer, Das Kölsch, containing 5% ABV.
  • Long Trail Brewing Company in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont produces a seasonal Kölsch-style beer, which they promote under the name of "Ramble".[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • Magnolia Brewery in San Francisco, California makes a Kölsch-style ale called "Kalifornia Kölsch".[8]
  • Ordnance Brewing Co., Boardman, Oregon. ABV: 5.5%, IBU: 16
  • Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska, also makes a summer Kölsch-style ale,[9]
  • Land-Grant Brewing Co. from Columbus, Ohio has an "American-type" Kölsch-style beer called "1862 Ale" (4.9% ABV).[10]
  • Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh, North Carolina makes a Kölsch-style ale called "Angry Angel".[11]
  • Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, produces an organic Kölsch-style lagered ale, "Beau's Lug-Tread"[12] In 2006, Beau's coined the term Lagered Ale to describe their version of the Kölsch-style beer. [13][14]
  • Karbach Brewing Company in Houston, Texas produces a 4.9% ABV Kölsch-style beer called "Love Street".[15]
  • Eventide Brewing in the Grant Park Neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia produces a Kölsch-style beer.[16]
  • SacTown Union Brewery in Sacramento, CA, produces a Kölsch-style beer.[17]
  • Left Handed Giant Brewing Company in Bristol produces a Kölsch-style beer called Kolsssh. [18]
  • The Zeelandt Brewing company in Esk Valley Near Napier produces a Kölsch-style beer called Kolsch [19]
  • Asher Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, produces an organic Kölsch-style beer [20]
  • Clown Shoes Beer from Cliffton Park, NY brews a Kölsch-style beer with natural mango juice.[21]
  • Center of the Universe Brewing Company in Ashland, Virginia brews a Kölsch-style beer called Slingshot Kölsch.
  • Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri, brews a Koln style golden ale called American Kolsch.
  • Heroic Aleworks in Woodbridge, VA brew a Kolsch style beer called Solasta. [22]
  • Franconia Brewing from McKinney, Texas brews a traditional Kolsch-style beer. - http://www.franconiabrewing.com/
  • 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. [23]
  • White Street Brewing in Youngsville, North Carolina brews a Kölsch-style beer.
  • Lakewood Brewing in Garland, Texas brews a Kolsch style beer they named All Call. see: https://lakewoodbrewing.com/beers/
  • 54'40' Brewing Company in Washougal, WA brews a Kölsch style ale named Kascadia.
  • Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario brews a Kölsch style beer named Kirby's Kölsch.
  • 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"[24]
  • 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. [25]
  • Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville, Iowa brews a Kölsch style beer, Sure Shot. Wearing the mask of a lager, this cold fermented ale is crisp and refreshing yet packs a wallop of flavor. Brewed in the tradition of Cologne Germany, the Kolsch-style ale is the perfect companion for your backpack, tackle box or picnic basket. Bullseye!
  • Kalona Brewing Company, Kalona, Iowa, brews a seasonal honey Kölsch ale from July-October named Free Range. It is a crisp lawnmower beer with a hint of honey on the finish, all thanks to free range bees.

See also[edit]

CaliCraft Brewing in Walnut Creek, Ca, makes a Cali Coast Kolsch.

Fort Point Beer Company in the Presidio in San Francisco, Ca, brews a Kolsch named KSA.


  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. ^ http://authoring.samueladams.com/craft-beers/escape-route
  5. ^ http://leinie.com/Beers.aspx#canoepaddler
  6. ^ "Please Verify Your Age - Long Trail". longtrail.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Awarded beers". brusselsbeerchallenge.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  8. ^ https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/463/17590/
  9. ^ Administrator. "Alaskan Brewing Company - Summer Ale". alaskanbeer.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  10. ^ https://landgrantbrewing.com/beer/1862-ale/
  11. ^ http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/15189/43208/
  12. ^ http://beaus.ca/beer/lug-tread/
  13. ^ "Take a trip to this town's mini beer fest | Metro News". metronews.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  14. ^ "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  15. ^ http://www.karbachbrewing.com/beers/love-street
  16. ^ http://eventidebrewing.com/beer/eventide-kolsh/
  17. ^ http://sactownunion.com
  18. ^ http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/left-handed-giant-kolsssh/420615/
  19. ^ http://zeelandt.co.nz/product/kolsch-craft-beer/
  20. ^ http://asherbrewing.com/organic-beer/green-lantern-organic-kolsch/
  21. ^ https://www.clownshoesbeer.com/cs_beer/mango/
  22. ^ http://heroicaleworks.com/beers/solasta/
  23. ^ "Lake Superior Brewing Company". www.lakesuperiorbrewing.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12. 
  24. ^ https://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/1760
  25. ^ http://www.otbrewing.com/home.html

External links[edit]