Kölsch Simplicitas

I try to do a kölsch-style ale roughly once a year, in part because I like the style, in part because it’s hard to find (in my opinion) truly great commercial examples, and in part because it’s a fun challenge to brew such a fussy beer. I’ve made a few iterations over the years, heading ever simpler with each batch. 2020’s version (Kölsch Minimus) was really elegant in its simplicity, so I modified it slightly for ingredients on-hand and to try a slight variation. Whereas last year’s batch had pilsner and Munich malt, this year I used pilsner and a touch of Carahell. I used the Edelweiss hop blend (instead of Sterling), and brought in the Lallemand Köln Kölsch-style ale yeast instead of K97.

clear, yellow beer with white head, poured into a clear glass, held in a hand

Kölsch Simplicitas

  • 9.25 lb. Viking pilsner malt
  • 0.5 lb. Carahell malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 0.25 tsp. BruTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Edelweiss hop blend (5.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Köln Kölsch Style ale yeast (Lallemand)

Target Paremeters

  • 1.047 s.g., 1.009 f.g., 5.0% abv, 4 SRM, 24 IBU
  • Full volume mash, 90 minute mash at 150°, 10 minute mash-out at 168°
  • Claremont tap water, adjusted with 88% lactic acid to hit target of 28 ppm Ca, 6 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 50 ppm SO4, 85 ppm Cl, 15 ppm HCO3, -11 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I adjusted the tap water with 5.4 mL of 88% lactic acid, to neutralize the carbonates. Then, I heated to 156° and mashed in, to hit a target of 150°. I added 2 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust mash pH. I held the mash at 150° for 90 minutes while recirculating, and then raised the mash to 168° for 10 minutes, before removing the grains.
  • In total, I had 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 73% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the heat and chilled to 64°, before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 8 January 2022. After pitching the yeast, I held the beer at 64° for fermentation.
  • I kegged the beer on 4 March 2022, transferring into a purged keg. The final gravity of the beer was 1.010, for 4.9% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Very clear, just short of brilliant; medium-yellow in color. Pours with a creamy white head–absolutely beautiful and very persistent!
  • Aroma
    • Lightly grainy malt aroma; hop character is fairly minimal now, although in the earlier days of the beer there was a more prominent floral note that has since faded. Yeast character is very clean.
  • Flavor
    • The beer has a very nice, moderately malty flavor, against a moderate level of bitterness. Malt and hops are perfectly in balance. Yeast character is clean, with very slight fruitiness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Crisp finish! Yum. The body is medium-light, and carbonation is moderate.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is a nice alternate recipe relative to 2020’s kölsch. My only minor dings are that the hop aroma has faded a bit since initial tastings; I kept this one in the fermenter awhile before kegging, so I think I would be in better shape if I had done the transfer a few weeks earlier. Otherwise, this is a great alternative kölsch to add to my recipe library. I like the Lallemand German ale yeast; it seems to ferment a touch cleaner than K97. I don’t know if I have a strong preference for one or the other, at least in the case of a kölsch. It just brings something different.
  • Overall
    • 8/10
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