Sunner Kolsch – a Kolsch Beer from Cologne’s right bank!
Although Sunner (Sünner) Kolsch beer – like all Kolsch beers – originates from Cologne, there is something special or rather awkward about the brewery’s location. While most Kolsch breweries are situated within the original city of Cologne, being on the left bank of the Rhine river, the Sunner brewery is located on the right Rhine bank, in the Kalk district. There is a term in Cologne for those quarters on the “other” Rhine side: “Schäl Sick”, meaning more or less „the wrong Rhine bank“. This results from the fact that the right bank districts of Cologne once did actually not belong to the city. For hundreds of years there wasn’t even a bridge over the Rhine in Cologne. Nevertheless, Sunner Kölsch is a Kolsch beer brand and it is officially brewed in a part of Cologne today. Therefore, we will have a look at Sunner Kolsch and give you our impression of this particular beer.
The Sünner brewery is on Cologne’s Schäl Sick – the „wrong“ river bank.
A short history of the Sunner Brewery…
Still family-owned today, the Sünner respectively Sunner brewery was established in 1830 by Franz Hess, a local brewer and relative of Christian Sünner, in the Deutz quarter. After the Hess’ had passed away, the brewery was run by Sünner. At first, its name had been “Zum Schiffgen” (derived from the German word “Schiff”, meaning boat), due to its location near the boat bridge built in 1828. Later, in 1846, the Minden train station was opened, meaning that the Sunner brewery had an even better location. Thanks to this occurrence, the capacities of the brewery did not suffice anymore and Christian Sünner had to obtain a new building for his brewing facilities.
Eventually, he found a suitable compound in 1858, consisting of a mine and a pithead building. The mine had never started extracting, as the tunnels had enormous problems with entering ground water. There was no option to expel the water by water-driven pumps, as the miners did for instance in the Harz region near Brunswick. However, this ground water was of very good quality, and was used to brew the Sunner beer range in the mid 1800s. Thanks to numerous modernisation schemes, and the popularity of Sunner’s “Zechenbrauerei” (pithead brewery), the brewery produced up to 7.000.000 litres of beer per year.
1906 was the year when Sunner Kolsch beer was brought to the market as a top-fermented pale beer. After hard times during WW1, the Sunner brewery had a thriving period during the 1920s with the Sünner Terassen (terraces) at the Rhine river.
By the way, the Sunner brewery was one of those who initiated and signed the Kolsch Convention in 1986, providing the basis for the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) related to all Kolsch beers.
Sunner Kolsch today: A local beer brand!
Sunner Kolsch is only available in the Cologne region, where the brewery does some advertising. It is brewed with barley from local farmers, hops from the Hallertau in Bavaria, and, of course, with the water from its own well. In total, the annual beer output consists of some 4.000.000 litres. In comparison to other Kolsch breweries such as Fruh or Reissdorf the Sunner brewery is a rather small one. Yet, the brand is well known in the city of Cologne, regardless of the district’s river bank side. Besides, the typical Kolsch, Sunner also produces other beer styles.
The Kolsch beer of Sünner is available in 0.33l and 0.5l longneck bottles. The same applies to the entire Sünner brewery beer and water product range.
Beer range of the Sünner brewery
- Sünner Kolsch (ordinary Kolsch beer)
- Sünner BioColonia (unfiltered organic Kolsch beer)
- Sünner Hefeweizen (Hefeweizen is a cloudy wheat beer / Weizenbier)
- Sünner Malz (malt beer)
The Sunner brewery also sells bottled mineral water from its own well – carbonated and non-carbonated. It is distributed as “Kölsches Wasser [mit]” (with gas) and “Kölsches Wasser [ohne]” (non-carbonated) in transparent glass bottles with a capacity of 0.33 l.
Sunner: More than a Kolsch beer brand!
Taking a closer look at the Sunner brewery, there is one more interesting fact, as the company does not only produce beer, but also quite a range of spirits. It is one of the few breweries in Cologne to have its own distillery.
Product Range – Sunner brewery
- Sünner Akrobat (herb liqueur)
- Sünner No. 1 (wheat schnapps)
- Sünner Dry Gin No. 260 (gin from Cologne!)
- Sünner Doppelkorn (corn schnapps)
- Sünner Feiner Korn (corn schnapps)
- Sünner Mälzchen (malt liqueur)
- Wacholdergeist (juniper schnapps)
The “Zechenbrauerei” in Cologne-Kalk was destroyed during WW2 and was rebuilt in the 1950s. After restoration both the brewery and the distillery were opened for visitors. The “Sünner-Keller”, a beer restaurant in the old basement vaults, offers typical brewery dishes and, naturally, the brewery’s whole beverage range. It surely is worth a visit when being for on a holiday in Cologne.
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Sünner Kölsch – The Data
Alcohol Content: 4.8 % vol
Calories: 40 kcal / 100 ml
Ingredients: Water, Barley Malt, Hops, Hop Extract
Sunner Kolsch - Our Review
We tried Sünner Kölsch from a 0.5l bottle, having a Kolsch Stange each. The froth is more consistent than with the typical Kolsch beer brands and of a Pilsener-like colour. The beer itself also has a rather darkish colour in comparison to other Kolsch beers. Having an intensive scent, Sünner Kölsch is rather sour with a slightly fruity taste. The aftertaste is quite indistinctive and defined by a certain bitterness. Yet, it can be described as somewhat balanced. Sünner Kölsch was not our favourite Kolsch style beer, yet the darkish colour and the nice froth were appealing.
*We tasted this beer with 2 persons and the rating reflects only our personal impression, which we discussed after tasting the beer. The beer was cooled to the recommended temperature for the relevant beer type prior to testing. You may have a different taste and come to other results.