Saturday, October 11, 2008

German Kölsch

From the Wikipedia page on Kölsch...

Kölsch is a local beer speciality, brewed in Cologne, Germany. It is a clear beer with a bright straw yellow hue, and it has a prominent, but not extreme, hoppiness. It is less bitter than the standard German lager beer, Pils. Furthermore, Kölsch is top-fermented at a relatively warm temperature (13 to 21°C, or 55 to 70°F) and then cold-conditioned, or lagered.[1] This manner of fermentation links Kölsch with some other beer styles of central northern Europe, such as the Altbiers of northern Germany and the Netherlands.

If you're like me, the likely hood of brewing a pilsner eludes us. It's not lack of knowledge, but lack of a stable environment to ferment it in (ie. keeping temperatures in the lagering range). I have a lot of things, but a fermentation cellar, I do not. :(

I suppose that is what makes the Kölsch style so popular amongst homebrewer community. You can get the best of both worlds, at ale compatible fermentation temperatures. Light color, crystal clarity, and light crisp taste that is very reminiscent of a lager yet retaining a hint of that ale yeast complexity we all love.

While I've never actually been to Cologne, Germany (the only place that can actually call a Kölsch a Kölsch), or even had a real Kölsch alt beer, I do like to think we can get pretty close right here in our own back yard.

This is a recipe that I got from a fellow homebrewer at the LHBS, and in his opinion this is as close to tasting a Kölsch as your going to get without hopping on a plane and flying there. Well, at least he did say no one has ever complained, and having brewed it myself, I tend to agree. Its a great recipe, and simple to boot.

Grains & Extract
(Steep grains 30 minutes @ 150F)
4lbs      Pilsner DME
1lbs      Pilsner Grain
.5lbs     Light Munich
.5lbs     Carafoam
.15lbs   Vienna

Hop Schedule
1oz        Select @ 60 Minues
.25oz    Select @ 15 Minutes
.5oz      Select @ Flame Out

Yeast & Other
*Safale US-05 or Kölsch Yeast
Whirlflock tablet @ 15 minutes to speed clearing

Follow the normal rules with brewing and fermentation. After you have finished fermenting **bottle or keg the beer as usual and lagger in the refrigerator or kegerator for a couple of weeks. The longer you wait, the clearer it gets. 

Feel free to add your recipe in comments if you have one.

Enjoy! err.. Prosit!

* I would say use Safale unless you are able to ferment in cooler temperatures (like 65F-68F).
** If you are bottle conditioning, you might consider a week at room temperature before you refrigerate to allow the bottle to carbonate.

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