Kölschy Kölsch

My homebrew club had a kölsch-style ale scheduled as our March contest beer. Well…world events meant that we couldn’t get together. But, I could still do my own tasting at home!

I decided to go for a super-simple beer, with a minimalist grain bill. Last year, I did a kölsch with the Kolsch malt from Schill malting. It turned out pretty well, but was a bit darker than acceptable for the style. So, I used around 1/3 of this malt and the rest was pilsen malt, to lighten up the beer and make the flavor a touch more subtle. I have read in several places that wheat malt is not frequently used in “traditional” grain bills, so I chose to leave this out. Finally, I used Liberty hops for an American twist, and chose WLP029 (White Labs’ German Ale/Kolsch yeast).

As for the recipe name…well, I wasn’t feeling that creative!

Kölschy Kölsch

  • 7.25 lb. Superior Pilsen Malt (Great Western Malting)
  • 3.5 lb. Kölsch (Schill Malting)
  • 1.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.3% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. German Ale / Kölsch yeast, WLOP024 (White Labs)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 151°, batch sparge
  • 1.047 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.9% abv, 24 IBU, 4 SRM
  • “Cologne-ish water”, built from 8.5 gallons of RO water with 3.5 g baking soda, 4.5 g of epsom salt, 4.0 g of calcium chloride, and 2.5 g of gypsum, to hit 52 ppm Ca, 14 ppm Mg, 30 ppm Na, 98 ppm SO4, 60 ppm Cl, 78 ppm HCO3, RA=19 ppm, alkalinity=64 ppm


  • I mashed in with 3.6 gallons of water at 162°, to hit a 150° mash temperature. It was down to 146° after 45 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.25 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, and vorlaufed before collecting the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.6 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.2 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 76% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and other ingredients per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled the wort, before transferring to the fermenter and pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.050, and I fermented at 65°.
  • I brewed the beer on 25 January 2020, and had vigorous fermentation within 24 hours. I moved the beer to ambient conditions on 1 February 2020.
  • I kegged the beer on 29 February 2020, and was able to save around 1/2 quart of yeast for a future brew (probably an altbier).
  • Final gravity was 1.010, which equates to 5.3% abv.


  • Appearance
    • Clear, nearly brilliant. Light gold color, with a fine white head. The head is low but persistent around the edges of the glass.
  • Aroma
    • Sweet graininess, with a light touch of honey and apple–almost a Riesling-type character. No hop aroma.
  • Flavor
    • Grainy and lightly sweet grain character, with a subdued apple or pear-like fruitiness. Hop flavor is minimal, although the bitterness is a little stronger than I anticipated.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderately light body; crisp, but not overly dry. There is a lingering hop bitterness in the finish…it hangs around perhaps a touch more than is completely enjoyable for my taste.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This is a pretty good beer, with a nice flavor and appearance. I feel like the malt character is a bit stronger than I really want for this style, so I might go with a 100% pilsner or pilsner+American 2-row version in the future, or mix in some Vienna malt instead. That said, though, it’s a solid version of a kölsch!
  • Overall
    • 8.5/10

8 thoughts on “Kölschy Kölsch

  1. Nice looking beer! Interesting that you’ve read wheat is not used in traditional grain bills, as I’ve heard that it’s acceptable in moderation. Just pulled my Kolsch out of the fermenter, and I’m letting it lager for a week or two before tapping that keg. For what it’s worth, I used German Pilsner malt along with a touch of wheat (less then 5%), and opted to use Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast. Can’t wait to give this a taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Craig! I’ve seen that it’s used in some cases, but is not universally used in Cologne…but then again, I’ve also accepted that much of the “knowledge” around traditions is largely hearsay folklore, at best!

    Your recipe sounds fantastic…hope it turns out as good as it sounds!


  3. Just landed here… looks really good. I brewed a Kölsch style beer once, which was actually OK, but to be sincere I’ve never had a real Kölsch to compare it with. Cheers…


  4. Cool! I’ve had a few Kölsch-style beers…most of the examples tend to be a little lighter in color and a touch lighter in body. The malt flavor was a touch heavier on mine, but from what I’ve read the style is broader than often thought.


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