Today’s Beer 101 takes an in-depth look at the eminent Kölsch. The modern Kölsch is Germany’s only true, all-barley, pale ale. But don’t let the technical classification trick you, this beer is much closer to a classic lager than the rest of the ale family. Think of it as a pale ale adopted by a family of lagers; it is one of the palest German beers made. But before we examine the characteristics and genetic makeup of the Kölsch, let’s dive into this beer style’s delicious history.
The Kölsch comes from German city of Cologne. Located on both sides of the Rhine river, Cologne was the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior until it was occupied by the Franks in the mid fifth century. Cologne was later an important center of medieval pilgrimage, and after the city was destroyed in World War II the city was rebuilt which resulted in a very mixed and unique cityscape. When pale malt became readily available to the Germans in the 19th century the Kölsch began to become its own style of beer separate from the Albier style. In 1948 the Kölsch convention of brewers in Cologne formalized the Kölsch style in terms of modern brewing specifications.
This tasty ale is fermented at warmer temperatures, then lagered at cooler temperatures more befitting the German climate (for more on the layering process, check out next week’s Beer 101!) Made strictly with pale malts this beverage is very light in color and body. It is subtle. nuanced, and easy-sipping. It is usually also somewhat vinous and dry. Here in America, we call it a “summer beer” or a “summer ale” but despite the different name it is basically the same thing.
Kölsch is traditionally served in a stange, a cylindrical glass six inches tall and two inches in diameter. It takes almost two and a half of these servings to fill one British pint glass! With small portions like that a Kölsch rarely has a chance to get too warm on a hot summer day before it is consumed. The word stange means “stick” in German. Like a pilsner (which we touched on in last week’s Beer 101), it tastes best when served at 40-45 degrees fahrenheit. It’s perfect for hot weather, so come by the Pizza Press for a refreshing taste of Conrad’s Kölch from the very local Anaheim Brewery. Whether you sip it on its own or pair it with our delicious garlic cheesy bread this summer, you can’t lose!