When drinking a kölsch the first thing you should reach for is a stange. With it’s tall, narrow, body it shows off the beers refreshing clarity and light carbonation. It also helps in maintaining the beer’s delicate head.
In the absence of a beer stange you can also reach for any type of flute glass or a narrow pokal (pilsner glass). Even a tall champagne glass will do the job.
The idea is that you want a smaller surface area focusing those delicate aromas and flavors into a tight space.
About Kölsch Beer
This style is generally light in color and very clear. The light color comes from the pilsner and vienna malts used for brewing. They’re typically fermented with ale yeasts though they can be bottle conditioned with lager yeasts as well. This eclectic mix can lead to a slightly hoppy beer with hints of orchard fruits some wine-like characteristics.
It’s an excellent style for spring / summer drinking!
Unless you make a trip to Germany you’re unlikely to have authentic kölsch anytime soon. Like some other European products, a true kölsch beer must originate in a very specific place in order to garner that name.
There are plenty of other breweries crafting beers in the same style though – some do use the title but others may instead call them “german-style kolsch.” Still others just refer to them as being “summer” beers.
Notable Kölsch Beers*
- Trillium Brewing Company: Sprang
- Harpoon Brewery: Harpoon Sweet Spot (Previously Harpoon Summer)
- Boston Brewing Company: Samuel Adams Escape Route
- Saranac Brewery: Saranac Kölsch
- Goose Island Beer Co: Summertime
*Due to the nature of this style, with its geographical restrictions, I’m mostly listing easy to find versions of the beer vs. more common or traditional versions. Be sure to check out any liquor or wine stores with large import sections if you want something truly “authentic.”