Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of the German beer style called Kölsch. Here’s what a few of the top beer-centric websites have to say about it:
Rate Beer: Golden, top-fermented style native to Köln, Germany. The style has a very narrow profile and many beers that consider themselves to be kölschbiers are not. Generally they have a moderate bitterness, but fairly prominent hop flavour (typically Spalt, Tettnang or Hallertau). They have high effervescence, medium esters, but a rounded, stylish character derived from lagering.
Beer Advocate: First only brewed in Köln, Germany, now many American brewpubs and a hand full of breweries have created their own version of this obscure style. Light to medium in body with a very pale color, hop bitterness is medium to slightly assertive. A somewhat vinous (grape-y from malts) and dry flavor make up the rest.
German Beer Institute: One of only a handful of traditional German ales. Kölsch is the local brew of the city of Cologne (“Köln” in German). It is one of the palest German beers made. It is Germany’s answer to the British pale ale. It shares a history with the copper-colored Altbier made in Düsseldorf, some 44 km down the Rhine from Cologne. Just as the British pale ale emerged from the British brown ale in the 19th century, when pale malt became readily available, so did the Kölsch separate itself from Altbier around the same time. In 1948, the brewers of Kölsch joined forces in the so-called Kölsch Convention and formalized the Kölsch style in terms of modern brewing specifications. Kölsch, like Altbier, gets its characteristic, slightly fruity flavor from its own special ale yeast, with which the brew is cool-fermented and then aged and mellowed (or “lagered”) near the freezing point. Kölsch is always served in a straight-side, narrow, 0.2-liter (6¾ fluid ounces) glass called a Stange (“stick,” “pole” or “rod”). Kölsch is available only sporadically in the United States. The two brands that can be found in specialty beer stores in some areas of the country are Reissforf and Gaffel.
Lastly, here’s what Victory Brewing Company has to say about their Kühl Kölsch:
Enliven your senses with this crisp and delicate brew that traces its stylistic roots back to Köln, Germany. Premium malts and hops from its historic home give it just the right balance of sweet and sharp flavors, in measures perfect to soothe your sizzling summer fun. Whether at the beach or a BBQ, Kühl Kölsch beckons you to Taste Victory!
Did you get all that? Yeah? Great! Let’s get on with my review…
- Appearance: Crystal clear. Golden color. Lots of clear, fast rising bubbles. Thin bead of off-white foam that lays across the top of the beer.
- Aroma: Lemon zest. Yeast. Fresh cut grass. A touch of tea biscuits.
- Taste: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Not much in the way of flavor transitions, i.e. this beer has a consistent taste from start to finish with a really nice balance of citrus and lightly sweet malt. The finish is crisp and clean with a touch lemony astringency.
- ABV: 4.9%
We’ve used the term “Lawnmower Beer” on numerous occasions. It’s often used to describe the crisp and refreshing beer that men and women crave after spending the better part of a hot and muggy summer afternoon mowing, weed whacking, and edging their meticulously manicured plot of greenery that we call a lawn. While I have never actually mowed a lawn, I can completely understand the craving for a “Lawnmower Beer”, and would definitely recommend adding Victory’s Kühl Kölsch to your post yard work repertoire. This beer has a good bit of depth without being too intense from a flavor perspective. In other words, this is a delightfully easy drinking beer that will both quench your thirst and please your taste buds on a lazy summer afternoon. And FYI, there’s no lawnmower required to fully appreciate this beer.