Kölsch Simple

IMG_20190628_144212As I continue my explorations of German-style brewing, a kölsch-style ale seemed like a good next step for the summer months. My local brew shop had a kolsch malt from Schill, that was supposed to have a really nice flavor. It’s a touch on the dark side (4.5 SRM), but I thought what the heck, let’s roll with it anyhow. I’m glad I did, because the malt character really is spectacular (rich and bready), even if the beer is too deep in color to satisfy kölsch purists! The beer has drastically improved since I first kegged it. This particular yeast strain has nice background character, but takes forever to drop clear (which I would have realized if I had read about it in more depth). As a result, the beer was a sort of muddy, unattractive mess for the first few weeks. Thankfully, this could be fixed by time and cold…

Kölsch Simple

  • 9 lb. Kolsch malt (Schill)
  • 1 lb. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.5 lb. carapils malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb. white wheat malt (Great Western)
  • 2 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.35% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
  • 0.6 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. SafAle German Ale dry yeast (K-97, 11 g)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 149°, batch sparge
  • 1.048 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 5.0% abv, 24 IBU, 6 SRM
  • “Cologne-ish water”, built from 8.5 gallons of RO water with 1.5 g baking soda, 1.4 g of epsom salt, 1.25 g of calcium chloride, and 0.75 g of gypsum, to hit 16 ppm Ca, 4 ppm Mg, 13 ppm Na, 30 ppm SO4, 19 ppm Cl, 34 ppm HCO3, RA=14 ppm, alkalinity=27 ppm


  • I built my strike water with 3.75 gallons of RO water augmented with 0.75 g gypsum, 1.25 g CaCl, 1.4 g epsom salt, 1.5 g baking soda, and heated it up to 160°. This hit my 148° mash temperature target. I added 0.5 tbs. of 88% lactic acid to the mash.
  • I sparged with RO water, in two batches. First, with 1.25 gallons at 185°, added to the mash. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings. Next, I added 3.6 gallons, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044, for 80% mash efficiency.
  • I boiled the wort for 60 minutes, adding the various hops and finings as in the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled before transferring.
  • I chilled the beer in the fermentation chamber down to 65° before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.050. I brewed this beer on 19 April 2019, and there were preliminary signs of fermentation by the next morning.  Primary fermentation was at 65°.
  • I cold crashed the beer on 16 May 2019, and kegged it on 18 May 2019. Final gravity was 1.011, for an overall abv of 5.1%.


  • Appearance
    • Clear, but not brilliant, with a slight haze (it has cleared considerably over the past few weeks); deep gold color; frothy white head that is pretty persistent.
  • Aroma
    • Bready malt note, with a bit of spicy hop aroma behind that; a slight hint of fruitiness.
  • Flavor
    • Bready, with a modest bitterness behind that; bitterness is smooth and rounded. The beer has a slightly fruity yeast character, which has subsided considerably since the first tastes.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate body, with smooth finish; moderate carbonation
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Not in this form. I would cut the kölsch malt with pilsner malt, perhaps 50/50. I would also look for another yeast–perhaps the White Labs equivalent? This is a nice German-style ale, but not kölsch in the traditional sense.
  • Overall
    • 6.5/10

2 thoughts on “Kölsch Simple

  1. Ah, I totally forgot to put that in the recipe! Good catch (and I’ll update things right now). It was the SafAle K97 (German Ale) dry strain…


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