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Kolsch or Koelsch – Beer from Cologne is actually written as Kölsch!

A set of three Kolsch beer brands: Fruh, Sion and Mühlen Kölsch. There are far more Kolsch beers to discover in the Rhine metropolis Cologne.

A set of three Kolsch beer brands: Fruh, Sion and Muhlen Kölsch. There are far more Kolsch beers to discover in the Rhine metropolis of Cologne.

Speaking of German beer, probably most people would instantly think of Bavaria, especially Munich / München with its many beer gardens and wheat beer. Munich is the third largest city of Germany and directly followed by Cologne / Koeln with a population of more than 1 million. In Cologne you are very lucky, if you were to order a Bavarian beer, a Weisswurst or Obatzda Cheese and would actually get it. The Köbes (term for waiters in Cologne) is used to serving only one kind of beer and that is Kolsch! In German it is written “Kölsch“, but without an “ö” on your keyboard, you can write it Koelsch or Kolsch :). This special kind of beer is popular within the region of Cologne / Bonn, and is hardly available beyond the boundaries of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, also famous for Pilsner beers. Learn more on Kolsch and what the people of Cologne eat instead of Weisswurst and Obatzda!

Basics on Kolsch – only certain beers from Cologne are allowed to be called that way!

Cologne is a very old German city once founded by the Romans (Colonia). For Köln, as Cologne is called in German, five things are of great importance:

  • The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
  • The Rhine River (Rhein)
  • Kolsch beer (Kölsch)
  • Carnival (Karneval)
  • Football (1. FC Köln)

 

The strongest relation between the five essentials of Cologne is to be found between Carnival and Kolsch! During Karneval, a traditional festive season of the Rhineland, huge amounts of this special beer type are consumed and contribute to the cheerful atmosphere during the so called “fifth season”. But what makes Kolsch that unique?

Kolsch beer is one of the most famous things from Cologne.

10 facts on Kolsch beer

  1. The first purity law in Cologne was declared earlier than the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
  2. A beer called “Hopfen” had strong similarities with the present Kolsch beer style.
  3. The Bavarian purity law of 1516 was applied by Kolsch breweries in 1516.
  4. Since the 1980s, there is a convention stating that only such beers can be named Kolsch which are acutually brewed within Cologne and its closer environment.
  5. Kolsch is a top-fermented beer, categorized as a “Vollbier” with about 4,8% of alcohol.
  6. 0.2l glasses of simple cylindrical form are used for Kolsch (they are also called “Stange” in Germany which means bar).
  7. The waiter in Cologne is called “Köbes” and brings filled Kolsch beer glasses to the tables with a Kranz (a wreath with two grips in the middle, able to carry 18 0.2l glasses).
  8. Kolsch can be drunken from even smaller glasses containing 0.1l of beer – the so called “Stössje”.
  9. The largest and best-known Kolsch breweries are “Reissdorf”, “Gaffel” and “Früh”.
  10. To stay with the traditions of Cologne, a Kolsch beer is best in combination with the “Halven Hahn” (traditional snack).

 

How does Kolsch taste? Are there any similarities to other German beer styles?

The Cologne Cathedral near the Rhine river.

Kolsch stands for the city of Cologne, just like the Cologne Cathedral does!

Regarding the taste of Kolsch / Koelsch, there are very opposing opinions. Most people from Cologne will say it tastes great, other Germans without a personal link to the city might question whether Kolsch is a beer at all. To be honest, Koelsch is rather mild in taste with only a slight bitterness and a tangier hint. Compared with other German beer styles such as Pilsner, it has less hops and is way fruitier. This is not surprising as Pilsner is brewed bottom-fermented while Koelsch is top-fermented. Kolsch is best enjoyed quickly, as it tends to become flat instantly. By the way, despite the everlasting feud between Cologne and Duesseldorf, Koelsch and Altbier have several similarities. The first difference is seen at once, for Alt beer is of a dark color while Kölsch is golden, clear and absolutely not cloudy.

Please watch out when you order Kolsch in one of the many pubs of Cologne. The Köbes will keep on bringing new glasses of Kolsch, until you place the beer coaster onto the glass. That’s what the people of Cologne consider service!

 

Kolsch Beer Brands

Gilden Kölsch
Gilden is a Kölsch type beer brand of Cologne. Find our beer review here!
Sion Kölsch
Sion Kölsch is yet another famous Kolsch style beer from Cologne. See our beer review on Sion Kölsch!
Gaffel Frei
Gaffel Frei is a non-alcoholic Kolsch style beer and an interpretation of the famous Gaffel Kölsch. Read our beer review here.
Mühlen Kölsch
A Bottle of Muehlen-Koelsch Beer from the German City of Cologne.
Mühlen-Kolsch is one of the famous Kolsch style beers from Cologne. Check it out!
Sunner Kolsch
Close-up picture of the Sunner / Sünner / Suenner Kolsch beer label.
Sünner / Sunner Kolsch is produced by an old brewery of Cologne. We reviewed it!
Gaffel Kolsch
The Gaffel brewery is one of the top 3 Kolsch beer producers by quantity. Why not have a look at our Gaffel Kolsch Review?
Fruh Kolsch
A picture of a Fruh Kolsch Label
Fruh Kolsch is one of the three largest Kolsch breweries in the city of Cologne. Learn more on this beverage typical for Kolsch culture.
Reissdorf Kolsch
Reissdorf Kolsch is a famous beer brand from Cologne. Find out more about this very Kolsch beer brand with the highest output.