As summer ends and autumn returns to Saint Louis, we continue our program of authentic recreations of German-style beers. Like Altbier, Kölsch is one of the relatively few German beers made with a top-fermenting yeast strain.
The style is named for its city of origin, Köln (Cologne) Germany. According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, the style dates back to 874 AD. Of course it has evolved considerably during its tasty progression through history. Like many lighter beers, its current incarnation dates to the 1800s. Pilsners were staging a takeover throughout Germany. But in Köln, natives said, “not on our watch, delicious hoppy golden beer. We’ll make our own.” And so they did. They created a refreshing golden beer but used the old top-fermenting yeast, rather than the bottom-fermenting strain used to brew pilsner.
Kölsch is fermented at cooler temperatures than most (top-fermenting) ales (ours is fermented at 60 degrees). It also undergoes some cold conditioning, making it somewhat of a hybrid. Those colder temperatures tone down the esters that are often produced during top fermentation, but they are still there, though they are subtle. Often in Kölsch these notes are reminiscent of pear.
We use the same authentic German top-fermenting yeast used by Cölner Hofbräu Peter Josef Früh. It produces a tangy, bright fruit note. Our Kölsch-Style Ale is as good as anything you’ll find in Köln. It’s deliciously crisp with nice clean bitterness and a hint of tart lemon.
This time of year we feature several excellent German styles, including wheat, black lager, #Carlbock, dunkel, alt, and Oktoberfest, in addition to our Kölsch. With half pints, you can try them all. What are you waiting for?
-Dr. Patrick Hurley, barman and civil man about town
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.