Author Topic: Kolsch German VS American  (Read 4414 times)

Offline toddhert

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Kolsch German VS American
« on: June 11, 2011, 06:48:10 AM »
I've been looking for a good authentic Kolsch recipe, but virtually all that I find contain wheat malt. I detect wheat malt in American Kolsch, but none at all in German Kolsch. In fact, I've read that some German brewers make kolsch EXACTLY like a pilsener except with different yeast and fermentation temps. Am I just not tasting the wheat, or do the German kolsch brewers NOT use wheat malt? If not, does anyone know of a good German style kolsch recipe?

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2011, 07:25:17 AM »
My understanding is that some, but not many, Cologne brewers use a small amount of wheat in the recipe. A very small amount. Unless they are using over 30% I just don't see how in the world you could taste the wheat. My personal experience with brewing kolsch with a small amount of wheat is that it aids in head retention only and doesn't affect clarity or flavor.

that said, just use a 100% pils base mal @ ~1.050 and target 20-30 BUs noble type hop - such as Hallertauer Mittlefrue. Its a very easy beer to brew, the tricky part is the fermentation.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2011, 07:57:02 AM »
It's likely that some of the German examples contain a small addition of wheat malt which will not only aid in head retention, but can also impart a subtle tartness in the flavor profile only if used in a more significant amount as the major has indicated. I've used small additions of wheat malt in my Kolsch recipes as well as 100% Pils malt grist bills. I've found that the wheat helps head size and retention but not so much that I would recommend it as "mandatory" for good head retention.

Proper fermentation (58-62) using a Kolsch style yeast (WLP029 or WY2565) with an appropriate starter and good wort aeration are the keys to success in this beer style.
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Offline sailortodd

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2011, 12:38:08 PM »
Looking at the BJCP style guide, a koelsch doesn't have to have wheat in it, saying exactly:

"Up to 20% wheat may be used, but this is quite rare in authentic versions."
Beer: so much more than just a breakfast drink.

Offline toddhert

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2011, 03:48:31 PM »
Is a diacetyl rest normal for this style? I've heard it's not necessary, but then I've heard that a kolsch is lagered, so I'm not sure.

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2011, 07:43:46 AM »
I've been looking for a good authentic Kolsch recipe, but virtually all that I find contain wheat malt. I detect wheat malt in American Kolsch, but none at all in German Kolsch. In fact, I've read that some German brewers make kolsch EXACTLY like a pilsener except with different yeast and fermentation temps. Am I just not tasting the wheat, or do the German kolsch brewers NOT use wheat malt? If not, does anyone know of a good German style kolsch recipe?
Great reference is Designing great beers by Ray Daniels.
http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Great-Beers-Ultimate-Brewing/dp/0937381500.
You can find there in depth section about Kolsh.
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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 04:32:29 PM »
Is a diacetyl rest normal for this style? I've heard it's not necessary, but then I've heard that a kolsch is lagered, so I'm not sure.

It depends how "traditional" you want to get. My understanding is that in Germany they ferment these beers anywhere from between 58 and 72 degrees, (IME the cooler turns out the better for the strains we have available) and that many breweries slowly lower the temp down to about 38 degrees while a small percentage of fermentables are still available so that the yeast can continue to clean up the beer. My personal preference is to ferment on the cool side, warm up near the end (more for helping the beer to finish completely rather than a d-rest, I haven't found these strains to throw much diacetyl), hold for a few days then crash cool to 32 degrees for 2-4 weeks to condition and brighten. Traditionally kolsches are filtered in Germany. I use gelatin to approximate the clarity of filtered beer.

I'm not really interested in being 100% completely authentic in the way these beers are brewed, as long as the end product is authentic - that's what I'm after.

If you are really interested in learning more about this style I highly recommend Eric Warner's Style Guide Series book "Kolsch". By far the best printed resource for brewing these beers.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2011, 04:34:11 PM by majorvices »
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 01:19:32 AM »
If you are really interested in learning more about this style I highly recommend Eric Warner's Style Guide Series book "Kolsch". By far the best printed resource for brewing these beers.

+1 on the Warner book. It's quite good.

Despite what the BJCP Guidelines say, Warner suggests that authentic Koelsch has a fair bit of wheat malt in it. Conversely, American style Koelsch uses just Pils malt. His recipe for a German-style Koelsch is as follows:

7 lb. Pils Malt
0.75 lb. Wheat malt

0.44 g AA from Perle (when boil begins)
0.29 g AA from Perle (40 minutes in)
0.2 g AA from Hersbrucker (at knockout)

Step infusion:

117 degrees F mash-in
  heat at 2 degrees F/minute to
143 F rest for 30 minutes
159 F rest for 10-15 minutes
heat to mash out temp.

Vorlauf 10 minutes

Oddly enough, Warner suggests mashing-out and sparging at ~170-173 F, which might promote tannin extraction.

Offline denny

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 08:41:28 AM »
Oddly enough, Warner suggests mashing-out and sparging at ~170-173 F, which might promote tannin extraction.

Not in my experience.  If your pH is in line, there should be no problem with those temps.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: Kolsch German VS American
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 04:24:53 PM »
Oddly enough, Warner suggests mashing-out and sparging at ~170-173 F, which might promote tannin extraction.

Not in my experience.  If your pH is in line, there should be no problem with those temps.
I agree with Denny.
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On Tap At The TapRoom:
Bohemian Pilsner
Bohemian Dark Lager
Smoked Bock
MaiBock
American Brown Ale
Marzen
Root beer