Pilsner and hefeweizen are the best-known German beer styles in the United States, and therefore the ones I used to gravitate toward whenever I lucked into a German-style beer hall in New York (Boston is egregiously lacking in this department). There was no specific ABV limit. City: Atlanta, GA ABV: 4.8% The verdict: I’m just now realizing—there are a whole lot of 4.8% ABV kolsches out there, aren’t there? There simply isn’t such a thing as a “whale” within the world of kolsch, and outside a few German breweries of note, there aren’t even “famous” examples of the style. Perhaps this is the magic ABV range for the style? Früh Kölsch is quite malt-forward, with a toasted note, assertive German ale yeast character (just a hint of banana) and some balancing, hop-contributed bitterness that rounds everything out. It’s on the sweeter side, with bready malt and a touch of clean grass and just enough bitterness on the finish to balance it all out. However, what if you want a friendly, light-colored beer on your menu, but: A. Black Shirt Brewing Co. Common Red It’s there’s one prevailing, overarching trend in all of American craft beer these days, it’s this: A move toward lightness, approachability and repeatability. Sweet Spot is a brand-new, year-round beer based on the recently retired Harpoon Summer kölsch. “Repeatability” is of course a reference to the popularization of session beer styles, and indeed the term “session beer” itself. Mildly sweet, with a nicely rounded note of red berries, it was a beer that drew the word “subtle” on pretty much every score sheet. Kölsch and Altbier These are two distinct beers intimately connected to the cities on the Rhine river — Köln/Cologne (Kölsch… Fine Line, Suarez Family Brewery… Very well balanced and not trying to complicate matters, this is an easy, approachable kolsch with enough subtlety to reward introspection. Here are top 10 German beer brands to try during your trip. 3. The delicately bitter, pleasant, slightly hopsy taste is characteristic for this traditional product and clearly distinguishes Gaffel Koelsch from all other Koelsch brands. Basically, it’s a kolsch for people who would rather be drinking pale ale, which is fine. Elevation Beer Co. 8 Second. Click here to view all entries in the series. A brief history and vital statistics about each pale ale or lager style. Kölsch: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 5.00 387: 3.86: Krankshaft Kölsch: Metropolitan Brewing: … Früh Kölsch. This is the kind of beer you’d buy an entire mini-fridge for, just for the pleasure of opening the door and seeing row after row of perfect session beer. In fact, outside of perhaps saison, is there any beer style for suitable for pairing with anything than a well-balanced kolsch? This one has the bigger malt presence that you’d probably be expecting from its color—slightly sweet, a bit heavier in terms of body, with a nicely toasted maltiness and just a hint of floral/slightly citrusy hops. A very crisp and dry rendition that tastes like the platonic ideal of a late-July porch beer. That’s the kind of description you want in a kolsch, to be sure. 1. Reissdorf Kölsch, Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf. Reissdorf is likely the most widely distributed German-made kolsch in the U.S., and it’s undeniably a classic of the genre—perhaps the first beer labeled as “kolsch” that many of us sampled, before American craft breweries started picking up on the style. Paris is amazing!” As if my failure to visit the world’s most beloved city stemmed from my lack of imagination rather than the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority’s lack of transatlantic bus service. City: Berkeley, CA ABV: 5% The verdict: What’s that? This one is almost more like an American kolsch—very crisp, light-bodied and almost lagery, with a slightly musty note (it may have been sitting on the shelf for a while) but a pleasant twist of lemony hops to round everything out. Cinderlands Beer Co. Cobra Toes City: Atlanta, GA ABV: 5.3% The verdict: This small Atlanta brewery is a bit unusual in the sense that their entire ethos runs counter to the “bigger and crazier” spirit of many modern American craft breweries, instead favoring subtlety and sessionable beer styles with almost all of their production. All beers had to be labeled as “kolsch” in some capacity, which made things pretty simple. Henniker’s is balanced and easy drinking, but with character to spare. This beer is a nicely executed balancing act between lightly bready maltiness, subtle noble hop notes (floral, herbal) and a hint of vanilla sweetness, all at once. A quaffer of a kolsch, to be sure—what the kids today insist on calling “crushable” for whatever reason. In appearance, it is bright and clear with a straw-yellow hue. German beer is inarguably one of the most famous staples of German culture, way up there with Sauerkraut, cakes, automotive engineering and wearing socks and sandals. In a sense, it’s sort of what kolsch is all about—a welcoming middle ground between styles that are more focused on specific, more intense flavor notes. The style’s number of entries at the Great American Beer Festival tell the tale—in 2017 it was up to 154 kolsches, making it one of the fastest-growing categories at the festival. Well then, it sounds like kolsch (or Kölsch) is the style for you. 41 of the Best Kolsches, Blind-Tasted and Ranked. Session beer styles provide that kind of subtlety. Woodland Farm Brewery Karl the Great By David Nuttall on Mar. Boulevard Brewing Co. American Kolsch. This one is a little bit heartier and more substantial than many of the other kolsches in the tasting, with a slightly higher ABV and corresponding increase in mouthfeel/weightiness. The Kölsch beer is a specially beer only brewed in Cologne. This one is right down the middle of the plate, combining a few of the aspects we like to see in American kolsches with a few additional touches that make it feel more unique.

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