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!
- 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)
- 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.
- Clear, nearly brilliant. Light gold color, with a fine white head. The head is low but persistent around the edges of the glass.
- Sweet graininess, with a light touch of honey and apple–almost a Riesling-type character. No hop aroma.
- 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.
- 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!