Recommendation: No late hops or one addition at 10 min for 20 to 25% of the IBUs.
Results: *** Waiting for results ***
Overall impression: "A clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age. Brilliant clarity is characteristic." BJCP, 2015
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.044 – 1.050; IBUs: 18 – 30 FG: 1.007 – 1.011; SRM: 3.5 – 5; ABV: 4.4 – 5.2%
The grain bill should be mostly a continental pilsner malt. Small amounts of Vienna, Munich, or wheat malt are sometimes used. Some recipes also suggest small amounts (up to 10%) of light crystal malts, such as dextrine, CaraHell, or Carafoam. The overall use of specialty malts should be kept to a minimum. One source suggests that the upper limit of all specialty malts should be 5%. Anorther viewpoint is that Vienna, Munich, and crystal malts should be completely avoided. Older American recipes frequently suggested using wheat malt up to 20%. The more recent opinion is that the use of wheat malt is not very authentic. Small amounts of acid malt are sometimes used for pH adjustment. Most of the reviewed recipes called for a single step infusion mash around 148 to 153F (64 to 67C), although a step mash would also be acceptable.
The hops should be traditional German noble varieties. Most recipes use either Hallertau or Tettnanger. American hops bred from Hallertau, such as Mount Hood or Liberty, might be decent American substitutes. About half of the recipes had a hop single addition at 60 minutes. The remaining recipes had two additions, with one at 60 minutes and about 20% of the IBUs from a late addition at 10 minutes.
This style calls for German Kölsch ale yeast, which is available in both liquid and dry forms. The preferred temperature is a low for an ale yeast, such as 58F to 62F (14 to 17C), but some strains can go up to 70F (21C). Pitching more yeast than most ales might be a good idea given the colder fermentation temperatures. Primary fermentation is typically followed by a lagering period at colder temperatures. A possible Kölsch yeast substitute would be to use a neutral American ale yeast. Desirable goals are minimal esters, no sulfur, and high attenuation (about 80%).
This beer style has very delicate flavors. Any off flavors will be easily noticed. High quality brewing practices will be needed to produce a good example of this style.
A second challenge is that Kölsch yeasts have a reputation for low flocculation. This may create a haze that is at odds with the goal of obtaining a clear appearance. Special processes might be needed to increase clarity, such as filtration, finings, or extended periods of cold conditioning. Most commercial German examples are filtered, although a few German pubs offer an unfiltered version called "Wiess" (white).
Dornbusch, H. (2013, July-August). Helles and kölsch, BYO, 26 - 34.
Williams, F. (1998, January/February). The queen of Köln: A visit to the court of Germany's kölschbier. Brewing Techniques, 36 - 42
Zainasheff, J. (2009, May-June). Kölsch: The beer of Cologne. BYO, 19-22.
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