I love brewing as many styles of beer as I can. It helps me get familiar with different styles and ingredients, and it keeps the brewing process from getting stale. Although I am looking forward to brewing more of my Double IPA, continuing to tweak the recipe and really nail it. This time I brewed a Kölsch.
Keller Kölsch is named after my grandfather. He loves trying all the beer I make and asks what I brought every time I see him. But he prefers the lighter styles. He’s a big Coors Light fan. This one was at his request.
Then I remembered that “keller” is the German word for basement or cellar. Kölsch-style beers typically condition for a few weeks at cellar temperatures, so the name fits even better.
What’s a Kölsch?
Kölsch is a style of beer brewed in Cologne (Köln), Germany. It’s a lighter style, clear and straw-colored. It’s similar in style to a subtle Pilsener or light lager. The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) guidelines describe it as “A clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas.”
Technically, mine is not a real Kölsch, but rather a Kölsch-style beer. It is defined by an agreement between members of the Cologne Brewery Association known as the Kölsch Konvention of 1985. According to the convention, a beer may only be called a Kölsch if it meets the following criteria:
- pale in color
- “vollbier” (one of four German beer tax categories)
- brewed in the Cologne metropolitan area
A true Kölsch may not be brewed outside the region of Cologne and is restricted to about 20 breweries in and around Cologne. A few breweries in other areas of Germany produce beer in the Kölsch-style, but are not allowed to call it a Kölsch because they are not members of the convention.
This brew day was a bit unusual. It was the first time I split the day up between mash and boil. I got a late start on the day and I ended up mashing for about 3 hours while I had dinner and did the kids’ bedtime routine. With only a 6°F loss over that time I wasn’t sweating it.
I did a full-volume mash in a bag and just almost nailed my temperature, coming in 1°F higher. The MIAB was almost as easy as BIAB, with an additional step of transferring the wort from cooler to kettle.
Whether it was my method or some other variable, my efficiency was way higher than I anticipated (about 80% brewhouse efficiency), and I ended up overshooting my gravity. Estimated OG was 1.054, I hit 1.060. I could have diluted with water to bring it back down and increase my beer volume, but maybe next time.
I have yet to have a brew day without something going wrong. This time, about 20-30 minutes into the boil my propane tank emptied. No more fire, no more boil, sad panda. A short trip to the gas station for a new tank and I was back in business for an uneventful remainder of the day.
This recipe was a kit purchased from Northern Brewer. The ingredients they list on the kit are very non-specific, which is kind of a bummer. I swapped out the yeast they have and used Safale K-97 instead.
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|3 gal||60 min||20||1.054||1.011||5.6%|
|German Hops||1.0 oz||60 min||Boil||2.8%|
This beer christened my new kegging setup. Even with the need to clean and sanitize all the little parts of the keg, the pros overall outweigh the cons in comparison to bottling. Packaging took about 1/3 of the time and it was way less tedious. Plus, having homebrew on tap is a lot of fun (except when you can’t tell how much you have left and unexpectedly run out right before a homebrew club meeting).
Overall this beer came out pretty good. The color was a tad darker than it probably should have been, but it was crystal clear. It had a nice white head on initial pour that diminished to a persistent thin layer.
I didn’t pick up any subtle fruit flavors (probably because my palate just isn’t so refined yet) but I did get some fruit in the aroma. The light body and slight bitterness made it very drinkable.