Posts Tagged ‘kolsch’

Some Kölsch in Köln

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Frank MöhlenkampA 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.

Brauhaus Sion

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.Sion Kölsch 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.Köln Bürgerhaus 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.

Brauerei Gaffel

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.

Gaffel KölschThe 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.

Dom Brauhaus

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.

+Sion Kölsch

3.8 (4-8-7-4-15)

+/-Gaffel Kölsch

3.0 (3-7-6-3-11)

Drei kölsche Biere

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Früh KölschTonight I will taste three beers brewed in Köln (that’s Cologne to the uninitiated). Beer from Köln is called kölsch, and it is a strong, pale lager with a particular fresh taste. Köln and Düsseldorf are two cities on the river Rhine with a long history of competition, particularly on the beer front. This is my first in a series of posts that will attempt to answer the age-old question: which beer is better, kölsch or alt?

The first examples in the kölsch category come from three breweries I have otherwise never heard of. First up, an offering from Cölner Hofbräu Früh, the Früh Kölsch. After that I will try the beer made by Dom-Brauerei, Domkölsch. Finally I will have the one from Küppers Brauerei, Küppers Kölsch.

The Früh Kölsch pours a brilliantly clear, lightly gold-tinted pale yellow. The head was bone white and a bit spongey, but now it’s all gone. The nose is malty sweet, with hints of white wine fruitiness and a trace of corn.

DomkölschThe flavor is immediately rich with an herbal hop flavor. Some bitterness is present but is overtaken by a cloying sweetness. There is some malt flavor that comes through as bread, but mostly just the corny sweetness. The flavor lingers far too long, and the carbonation is not nearly active enough.

The Domkölsch is named after the infamous Köln Cathedral, the other important attraction in the city of nearly a million. This is made perfectly clear in the label’s text, which reads, “Dom und Kölsch sind für Kölner, was Romeo für Juliet war: eine echte Herzensangelegenheit.” Loosely, “The Cathedral and kölsch are for the people of Köln what Romeo was for Juliet, a true passion.”

The Domkölsch is also a brilliantly clear yellow, perhaps a little darker than the Früh. The head is likewise bone-white, but has a more structure and lasts a bit longer. The nose is cleaner, with only a light malt aroma and a bit of fruit.

Küppers KölschThe flavor is also cleaner: it is almost tasteless. Some pure pilsner malt comes out, and a hint of sweetness. Just a bit of herbal hops peek through. The body is certainly thick and full, but unlike the Früh, not at all cloying.

The Küppers Kölsch pours a brilliant yellow, paler still than the Früh. The head is white, but like the Früh, disappears very quickly. The aroma is almost nonexistent. A little corn is all I can get.

The flavor is a bit hollow. It would be perfectly fresh if not for the persistent corn flavor. A bit of malty sweetness tries to compensate but doesn’t quite make it. The palate is full and lively, making for a very drinkable beer.


3.6 (3-7-7-4-15)

+/-Küppers Kölsch

3.1 (2-7-6-4-12)

+/-Früh Kölsch

2.9 (2-7-6-2-12)