A few folks from my program and I went on a brewery tour in Köln last weekend. To me ‘brewery tour’ implies a tour through a brewery, but instead it was a tour around Köln with stops at beer halls. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was a very good time anyway. The guide was named Frank Möhlenkamp and he was quite entertaining. He had plenty of anecdotes about the history of Köln and a unique manner. He even gave a decent (if somewhat simplified) description of the brewing process. Not as much information about the beer as I would have hoped, but an entertaining evening nonetheless.
The first place we stopped at was the Sion Brewery. On the outside of this beerhall is the supposed founding date 1318, but Herr Möhlenkamp was quick to point out that this simply means there was a brewery in that building in 1318, not a particularly surprising fact given the brewing tradition of Köln. He observed that one may elsewhere inside find a date of 1511, or if one were to dig a little deeper find the year 1912. I have noticed that this temporal confusion is a problem endemic with German breweries.
The Sion Kölsch is a pale, brilliantly clear golden color with a thick white head that leaves a solid lacing on the glass. The nose is quite light, with just a bit of pale malt character and a fresh hop aroma.
The body is full but remains refreshing. A bready malt flavor is light and intangible like gossamer. There are hints of grassy and earthy noble hops. The flavor is barely disturbed by a corn taste coming through.
The second stop on our tour was a visit to the Köln bürgerhaus. When the Kölners rebuilt their city hall after the war, they built in statue enclaves that harken back to those for the saints on the outer walls of many gothic cathedrals. However, the statues here are important figures in the history of Köln. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the figures underneath the statues, intended to represent what the person would see when they look in a mirror. The heroes of Köln would see angels and flowers and such, but the bottom row of statues holds the more infamous characters of Köln’s history, along with the Kölners’ impression of their true character.
After the stop by the bürgerhaus we moved on to the Gaffel Brewery. Gaffell (along with Reissdorf) is one of the kölsch beers that are widely available in the states. Nevertheless I had yet to rate it on this blog.
The Gaffel Kölsch is a brilliant deep gold. There was some big-bubbled head but it went away quickly. It has some light and refreshing malt aroma.
The flavor is somewhat malty, but mostly I just notice a sulfuric taste on the bottom of the tongue. It is also a little corny sweet and leaves a bit of a mouth coating.
Our last stop was at the Dom Brewery, but as I had already rated that kölsch a little while ago I just relaxed and enjoyed the beer and company, something that is quite easy to do in Köln.