Author Topic: Kolsch Guidance  (Read 5317 times)

Offline quattlebaum

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Kolsch Guidance
« on: June 27, 2015, 03:38:56 AM »
So really never had this style and am going in blind. Would like some suggestions on recipe and process. I plan on using Schill Kolsh malt and maybe a bit of wheat malt i guess. Maybe OG at 1.046, mash low 148F, mash PH 5.3 ? Bittered to maybe 25 ish IBUs and possibly a small late flavor addition?  I have most german varieties of hops pearl, tet, hal, hersburk, sazz even mandarian Bavarian. Not sure on water/minerals maybe very little like a Euro lager and 100% RO. Or should i push the Ca up a bit (50ish) to aid in yeast floc. planning on Wyeast strain. Any suggestions?
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 01:25:03 AM by quattlebaum »

Offline majorvices

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2015, 12:46:52 PM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.

Offline ScottBeh

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2015, 01:44:37 PM »
I have one just now getting ready that I used 25% Schill, the rest Pilsner  Its quite a bit darker than previous attempts with out.

Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2015, 01:50:16 PM »
+1 on using all pilsner malt. Kolsch is one of the lightest beers around except for wheat beers.

I have used both the Wy2565 and the WLP029, and each has it's pros and cons. The Wy ferments cooler and even so is a bit fruitier. The WLP will ferment warmer without becoming very fruity--it does have a subtle fruitiness, which IMHO is right to style. The Wy takes a long time to clear, and the WLP drops out immediately upon completion of primary fermentation.

I like both of these strains but prefer the WLP029. Both make a true to style kolsch with only a slight difference, so if you like your kolsch to be more fruity go with the Wy, and if you like the fuitiness to be subtle and the beer to be clearer use the WLP. They're both good, it comes down to your preferences.

My recipe, which originally came from Northern Brewer and has been changed only minimally, is all pilsner malt, 25 IBUs using Tradition for 60 min. and Hersbrucker for 20 min.

I use the yellow balanced profile on Brunwater and try to get my water as close as possible.

The key to a good kolsch--this one is my house beer, by the way--is in it's crisp finish. The flavor is a subtle balance between malt, noble hop character, and bitterness. No one element should stand out over the others, and the finish should be so crisp that you can't wait for the next mouthfull.

Good luck!
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline quattlebaum

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 04:08:00 PM »
Much appreciated gentleman. I'll grow a recipe together soon and have at it. Think I just may try the mandarina although I probably should try a traditional one first.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 07:01:08 PM »
I like a small addition of german vienna malt in my kolsch along with a small amount of wheat (even thought it is not traditional) along with pilsner malt as the base.  WY 2565 rocks for this style and adds an almost slight wine-like (chardonnay) note to the aroma when fermented 58-60F.  This recipe has done well in comps for me. 

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 07:12:18 PM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.


Great advice. Pretty much Kolsch 101.
Jon H.

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2015, 08:39:39 PM »
In my humble opinion, Keith is the local authority on all of things kolsch.   It's easy to tell that he has put a serious amount effort into mastering what is to most brewers an obscure beer style.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2015, 03:23:46 AM »
In my humble opinion, Keith is the local authority on all of things kolsch.   It's easy to tell that he has put a serious amount effort into mastering what is to most brewers an obscure beer style.
Means a lot coming from you, and Hoosier. And I have spent a lot of hours trying to get this right. Wife think I've gotten close enough... sure there's a joke somewhere....

Offline majorvices

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2015, 03:30:50 AM »
I like a small addition of german vienna malt in my kolsch along with a small amount of wheat (even thought it is not traditional) along with pilsner malt as the base.  WY 2565 rocks for this style and adds an almost slight wine-like (chardonnay) note to the aroma when fermented 58-60F.  This recipe has done well in comps for me.

+1 - I like a touch on vienna as well. Wonder if this is where the "kolsch malt' comes in...?

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2015, 03:55:30 AM »
I like a little Vienna too. And I like both strains, but love 2565. It just has that vinous character I love in kolsch. I hold @ 58 for a few days then raise slowly.
Jon H.

Offline JT

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2015, 04:18:38 AM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.
Subscribing to the thread after reading this post so I can find it again - I have a gut feeling there was some hard earned knowledge dropped free of charge right here.  Thanks Keith. 

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk


Offline brewinhard

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2015, 02:57:47 PM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.
Subscribing to the thread after reading this post so I can find it again - I have a gut feeling there was some hard earned knowledge dropped free of charge right here.  Thanks Keith. 

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

He is running all the way to the bank on this one!   ;D

Offline majorvices

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2015, 12:25:36 AM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.
Subscribing to the thread after reading this post so I can find it again - I have a gut feeling there was some hard earned knowledge dropped free of charge right here.  Thanks Keith. 

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

He is running all the way to the bank on this one!   ;D

Believe it or not, aside from the tasting room, I don't have a commercially available kolsch. Might add it at some point in time but for right now we are looking to other styles. It is a big hit at the tastng room though.

Offline quattlebaum

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Re: Kolsh Guidance
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2015, 12:54:46 AM »
I would be careful using the kolsch malt. It is very dark. In think you are better off using 100% pils malt. I'm not sure how the brewers in Cologne use the Kolsch malt but they must be blending it.

You can add wheat it you want, up to 10%, but it is not really very traditional. There may be a couple breweries that use it.

For me, I target about 22-25 IBUs. If you want to go traditional Hersbrucker is probably your best choice. I actually use Crystal in mine and love how it turns out. Mandarina would make a really interesting finishing hop for a kolsch. I have been planning on experimenting with that.

As far as water I think you want at least 50ppms of Ca - I use calcium chloride. I used to build my water from scratch but have medium hard water at the brewery and no RO system and have been brewing Kolsch this summer for our tasting room and just adjusting with lactic and calcium chloride and it turns out great.

The real key is going to be your yeast. Both the strains from WY and WL are very nice. I have been using the WY strain lately. Both need to be started cold - mid to high 50s and then finished off in the mid 60s. A 2 week lagering period is all you really need but you will probably have to fine or filter the beer to get it to clear. I have left it at 32 degrees for 6 weeks and kolsch yeast is particularly stubborn. I have see wheat beer strains that clear faster. In Kohln it is traditional for them to be filtered after a short "lagering" period.
Subscribing to the thread after reading this post so I can find it again - I have a gut feeling there was some hard earned knowledge dropped free of charge right here.  Thanks Keith. 

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

Funny thing is I was hoping "Keith" would chime in because I see his sweet looking kolsch every time he post. Thank you.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 01:25:28 AM by quattlebaum »