There are an ever expanding number of beer styles gaining popularity these days. Many of these styles are often brewed as seasonal beers by both big and craft brewers alike. Because it’s the summer in most of the beer producing countries, and the weather is warmer, most producers are releasing summer-style beers.
To many, summer-style beers are usually on the lighter more thirst quenching side e.g., Lagers. Due to modern brewing techniques, Lagers can be brewed at any time of year but many craft brewers have started to brew older style Lagers to be released in the summer. One of the more interesting summer-style craft Lagers being released by many brewers is Kolsch.
What is Kolsch?
Kolsch is a style of beer from the German city of Cologne (or Koln, depending on where you are from) that is clear with a bright straw colour and moderately hoppy flavor. It’s not as hoppy as Czech Pilsners or American Pale Ales, but still carries a decent amount of hops. Kolsch is also usually less bitter than many German Lagers which makes it a great summer beer.
What’s interesting about Kolsch, is that the beer is actually warm fermented. This style of fermentation is usually used when producing Ales, and is usually shorter than if you ferment in cold conditions. Once the beer has fermented, it is actually lagered or cold conditioned. Essentially, the beer is brewed like an Ale, but then stored in a cold cellar for an extended period like a Lager. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds!
In Koln/Cologne, you can still find traditional pubs selling Kolsch. At these pubs, the waiters often keep giving you beer when you finish your glass, without asking! In other words, if your beer glass is empty, they fill it up. Sounds a lot like going to the beer gardens in Bangkok to us! And, if you have had too much, you indicate this to the waiter by either placing a napkin on top of your mug, or leaving the glass half-full.
Why brew Kolsch?
Historically speaking, Kolsch can only be brewed by brewers in Koln. This is due to the Kölsch convention which prohibits the beer from being brewed outside of the region. That being said, there are a number of brewers in the US and Canada who are brewing Kolsch style beers.
This is because many people have started to realize that it’s a fairly easy style of beer to brew, and the taste is one that a wide-variety of beer drinkers enjoy. In the US, especially in the west, many brewers have found that this style of beer can be combined with local ingredients like honey and raspberries to create a unique summer brew.
Can we get it in Thailand?
While not overly popular yet, this style is quickly becoming more so, especially as brewers are exporting more of this type of beer to countries around the world. We actually carry one type of Kolsch – Fruh – which comes directly from one of the most well known Kolsch brewers and bars in Koln.
We know that brewers have started to export this type of beer to countries like China and the US, where demand for it is steadily rising. This means that as it becomes more widely available, and as more brewers continue to brew Kolsch style beers, we should see the selection rise here in Thailand.
Wish of the week
Fruh Kolsch Beer – 5 L
If you are looking to try Kolsch, try ordering this bubba keg. Fruh comes in a 5 Liter keg which should be more than enough to give you and your friends a taste. Upon tapping this bad-boy, you are going to notice that the beer is clear with a deep straw color. The beer itself tastes like a stronger, yet less bitter version of popular European Pilsners. We think it goes really well in the heat, especially if you chill it first.