Essential Info

  • Color: Pale to light gold
  • ABV: 4.5%-6%
  • Commercial Examples: Reisdorf Kölsch, Sam Adams East-West Kölsch, Harpoon Summer Beer

Like a California Common (Steam Beer), Kölsch is a product of combining aspects of both ale and lager fermentation. That means a bunch of technical stuff for a brewer—for starters, fermentation with ale yeasts and then cold lagering (or storage). But from a drinker’s perspective, of course, what matters are the results. For Kölsch, they’re typically light, with delicate malt, delicate hops, and maybe a bit of delicate and/or tart fruitiness, all finishing pretty dry. Like an even lighter lager or Pilsner, it’s very good for uncomplicated refreshment on a steamy day. You normally wouldn’t see much of it in the U.S.—originally it was only made in Cologne, Germany—but thanks to craft brewing, the style’s enjoying some stateside interest.