One way to identify beer is by the type of yeast used in the brewing process. For example, there are ales and lagers. Ales like IPAs undergo a brewing process with top-fermenting yeasts at warm temperatures. Lagers, such as pilsners, use bottom-fermenting yeasts at cold temperatures. Because brewers use different types of yeasts for each of these processes, ales and lagers have different tastes. A Kölsch is a hybrid with qualities of both. Perhaps because it represents the best of both worlds, Kölsch beers are becoming very popular with American consumers.
How is Kölsch brewed?
This beer style’s roots are traced back to Cologne (Köln), Germany, in the 17th century. At the time, German brewers struggled with poor ingredients and varied brewing methods, resulting in subquality, spoiled beverages. As a result, they adopted a mandate that all beer would be produced as ales with top-fermenting yeast and a warm brewing process. As time went on, consumers wanted their lagers back, so a hybrid brewing style was developed to conform to local laws but meet patrons’ tastebuds.
Kölsch uses top-fermenting yeasts and is brewed at warm temperatures, but then it is conditioned at cold temperatures like that of a lager. Other than that, the ingredients are all very straightforward: malt, hops, yeast, and water. Often, German malts are used in combination with wheat malts, thus maintaining the beer’s original German heritage.
For those who can’t choose between an ale or a lager, the Kölsch is an excellent choice since it has qualities of both. Overall, the beer is light and refreshing–perfect for warm summer days. Kölsch has the light, fruity taste of an ale with a crisp, clean finish of a lager. Many variations have mellow scents of honeysuckle, grass, earthy herbs, or lemon zest.
Kölsch should be served in a specific glass.
Authentic Kölsch is always served in a “stange.” A stange is a tall, skinny, straight glass, sometimes called a “stick glass.” Be ready to order more than one drink because a stange holds only 6.5 ounces of beer, less than half of a standard pint glass. In Germany, a server called a Köbes may bring a round of stanges to your table in a cleverly designed wreath-shaped holder.
What does a Kölsch pair with well?
Kölsch pairs well with light and slightly spicy foods. Essentially, if a food is a summertime favorite, it will likely go well with a Kölsch. Here are just a few ideas of foods that go well with this beer:
- Creamy, peppery, or nutty cheeses
- Flatbread pizza
- Lighter fishes
- Fried chicken
- Light desserts
The Growler Guys is your one-stop destination to try beers of every style.
Explore the growing variety of beers in one taproom, The Growler Guys. Each of our locations carries the best local varieties, from the palest ales to the darkest stouts, along with ciders and kombucha. Our friendly staff is happy to walk you through the characteristics of every style to help you discover your personal favorites. Take home the beers you love best in a growler to share with family and friends. View our online tap list to learn about the selections currently available at a location near you!