By John Preston – Grain and Grape
There’s no doubt that Kölsch is one of the classic Summer Ales. A thick white head on a pale, Golden Lager like ale makes it most appealing. I have a friend who lives in Aachen, only 60 odd kilometres up the road so fortunately have had the opportunity to spend a few quiet afternoons in great company, imbibing this wonderful beer, in small (200ml) tall narrow straight sided glasses known as a Stange.
This is a lightly malty easy drinking Ale which comes across as somewhere between a clean Wheat beer and a slightly fruity Lager. Hop bitterness is low to moderate and there is often a slight European hop aroma and fl avour. Up to 10% wheat is used and I think that this really adds something to the style.
Many cities have given birth to a style but only a few have given their name to them. Along with its neighbour Dusseldorf, Cologne has given birth to a classic. For the homebrewer, it is also an easy style to brew and is fast maturing – just the thing when friends do some damage to supply at an early Summer barbie.
Many small breweries in Australia have had a shot at the style. Two very successful versions have been made by Red Hill Brewery and Wig and Pen in Canberra.
A Kölsch should be made with all malt to comply with the Reinheitsgebot as it must in Germany. A mini mash is really worthwhile as it will add a little of the bready/grainy malt character of the style, although it could be skipped if necessary. Fermentation temperature is ideally mid teens although in Cologne breweries use a range as wide as 12 to 19 degrees. The general brewing rule of cleaner styles with lower temperatures and fruitier with higher temperatures applies.
The Kölsch liquid yeasts available through Wyeast and White labs will produce the best result. Clean Ale yeasts such as Fermentis US-05 and Danstar Nottingham will also work well. I’d also recommend trying a fresh wort kit as a base for this beer. The Artisanale Type 1 will make a great base for a Kölsch.
Kölsch is also a great style for an attempt at a first mini mash/malt extract or all-grain brew. It is a very simple style to make and ferment and quite forgiving. Just ask at your local brew shop for advice.
MAKES 23 LITRES
1 can Thomas Coopers Pilsner;
1 Kg Light Dried Malt extract;
40g Hallertau hop pellets;
150g crushed Pilsner malt;
150g crushed Wheat malt;
Fermentis US-05 yeast. (see comments above for alternatives).
1. Put the grain in a grain bag and place in a saucepan with 1 litre of water at 70 degrees. When the grain bag goes in, the temperature will drop to about 65 degrees. Try to maintain this temp for about 30 minutes then remove the grain bag and squeeze it with a pair of tongs or between two plates to retrieve the goodies.
2. Add two litres of water to the retrieved wort and bring to the boil.
3. Boil 20g of hops in the water for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining hops. Allow to soak for 1-2 minutes with the lid on the saucepan then strain into fermenter.
4. Add the Light Dry Malt and stir.
5. Add the beer kit to the fermenter and dissolve.
6. Add cold water up to the 23 litre mark and stir vigorously.
7. Rehydrate the dry yeast and pitch, seal and try to ferment around 15 - 17C.
8. Fermentation has fi nished once the specific gravity is stable over 2 days.
9. Bottle the brew and prime at the normal rate, 8g/l (2 carbonation drops per 750ml).
10. After two weeks, chill a bottle down and taste.
Kölsch (Brewers Publications)
Brewing Classic Styles (Brewers Publication)
Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer
BJCP Style Guidelines