Tag Archive: Kolsch


Northern Monk: Slim Pickens: Patrons Project: 8.05: Raspberry and Honeydew Melon Kolsch Style Ale (England: Kolsch: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale hazy yellow. Moderate small bubbled carbonation. Medium white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fluffy hops. Vanilla. Melon. Slightly oily.

Body: Vanilla. Honey. Crisp and dry underneath. Hop oils. Mild tart raspberry. Fluffy hop feel.

Finish: Vanilla custard. Honey. Slight dry fluffy hop feel. Melon and watermelon. Hop oils. Fresh raspberry. Sour dough.

Conclusion: This definitely is more about the extra fruit flavours and less about the kolsch flavour characteristics, more using the kolsch style as a base for easy drinking style. It shows little of the moderate hop style or bitterness kick that I would expect from a kolsch. Which is fair enough, this is a bit experimental – I just needed to make sure I checked my expectations going in.

So, yeah it is honey sweet – and a I know honeydew melon was used in making this, but I don’t think it came from that, but more obvious is a gentle vanilla backbone. Though there is an extra thickness to the dry and very drinkable base that calls actual honey to mind – a nice extra character, mildly syrupy but smoothed by the beer. It is only a slight extra thickness but occasionally does work against the easy drinking nature of the beer. A trade off I guess, it isn’t bad at all, just slightly off being perfectly balanced.

Flavour-wise it rocks a tart raspberry character which helps offset that thicker sweetness – It is tasty and refreshing. The melon is less obvious but there are some clean flavours at the edges which seem to be it working its way in. So, a tasty beer and despite the few oily notes coming through still fairly drinkable.

The base kolsch shows itself mainly as a fluffy hop mouthfeel and light hop oils. The bitterness is low, the rest of the mouthfeel is dry – when it shows itself from below the other ingredients anyway. The hop feels adds a bit of an edge so it is not too syrupy, similarly the dryness helps put the brakes on the sweetness,keeping everything in proportion.

Overall a fairly simple, enjoyable easy drinking beer that doesn’t push its roots much but does use the extra ingredient very well. Not super polished, but it does the job for a beer in the sun. That I drank after summer ended.

Background: I have been seriously enjoying Northern Monk’s varied patrons projects – collaborations with a fairly unusual set of people compared to the standard brewers, so I tend to keep my eyes on the new ones. This one grabbed my eye due to being a Kolsch – an unusual style that doesn’t seem to get much craft beer experimentations. Kolsch is a beer made with ale yeast, but cold conditional like a lager usually creating a nicely hoppy and bitter but easy to drink beer. Slim Pickens make cider and mead and I’m guessing the idea of adding raspberry and honeydew melon to the beer was theirs. Vague also got involved – a magazine maker who I’m guessing were involved in the skateboard image for the label? I guess. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters. Something about modern politics is making me go heavy back into punk listening again. Can’t imagine what….

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North Brewing Co Herzog
North Brewing Co: Herzog (HRZG) (England: Kolsch: 5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale yellow to grain. Small white head and small levels of carbonation.

Nose; Boiled eggs. Creamy. Coriander.

Body: Sugar icing. Boiled eggs. Toffee malt character. Slight palma violets. Sulphur. Slight buttery popcorn. Slight steam beer character.

Finish: Toffee malt character. Butterscotch. Light bitter hop character. Bran flakes. Steam beer notes.

Conclusion: Kolsch is a fairly odd style, half ale, half lager. I have to admit I also associate it with a higher than average bitterness and hop character, that is then combined with a smooth lager style easy drinking. So, tad surprised here.

This is toffee sweet, with a slight steam beer like hazy mouthfeel. That last one is not that unexpected considering both the relevant beer styles heritage that mix ale and lager stylings. What is unexpected is the night notal lack of bitterness, barring a mild run in the finish. Now that is not necessarily bad, but the lack of a major presence of the hop character means I need to step back and re-examine it.

So, erm like that it is, well, ok. Easy drinking but without much to recommend it. There is a slight eggy character and a misplaced buttery set of notes that feel like brewing mistakes rather than intentional notes. Again, it is still drinkable, while admittedly feeling closer to a Californian Common, aka steam beer, rather than the intended Kolsch. It just really doesn’t have any stand out elements to recommend it and a few against it. It is smoother and easier to drink that the over fizzy soda-stream styled lagers that are very common, but it doesn’t beat much else.

Background: People not from the UK may wonder why the can says HRZG, when the name is Herzog. The answer is simple, this beer is from Leeds, and thus suffers from the 2016 vowel famine. Due to recent political issues the vast majority of the vowels in the country have been taken by London, leaving the rest of the country, especially the north, to make do. Now you know. Also I looked up Herzog, apparently it is a German hereditary title. So now I know. See, beer helps you learn. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit as part of my ongoing effort to drink more quote unquote “normal” beer. Haven’t tried anything from North Brewing before. Kolsch is an odd style as it is initially warm fermented like an ale, then lagered like a, well, lager. This was drunk while listening to Pulp: Different Class. Such a good album – pop sensibilities music with real bitter angry class conscious lyrics. Very good stuff.

Brewdog No Label

Brewdog: No Label (Scotland: Kolsch: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to lemon juice. Moderate tight bubbled fluffy head. Very small bubble carbonation.

Nose: Lots of lemon and fluffy hops. Low but present bitterness. Hop oils. Apricot.

Body: Good medium intensity bitterness. Creamy. Slight bubblegum. Steam beer feel when cool. Slight grittiness when it warms. Lemon cakes. Brown bread.

Finish: Musty. Some hop character. Lime. Fluffy. Lemon. Slight milkyness.

Conclusion: Ok – I’ve put all my issues with this in the background section, so just for this moment I will leave them in the background and just examine the beer itself.

So, well, this is the second beer I have had recently that had a kind of steam beer texture to it. Shouldn’t surprise me – both Californian common and Kolsch straddle the ale/lager line. Californian common doing non refrigerated use of lager yeast, and Kolsch using ale yeast but cool lagered. Kind of mirror opposites of the unusual, so as I say, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. It is again that kind of fluffy steam texture that fills the mouth.

The hops are present but it is less bitter than I would expect from a Kolsch. this may be because of the mouthfeel, or possibly because it pushes the lemon cake style character which softens the beer a lot.

It actually results in a solid beer, pretty easy to drink, interesting feel, good enough bitterness to keep you interested but not to shock. It doesn’t exemplify the beer style, nor as the different beer it is does it create something special in the interactions of flavour and texture, but it does make for something easy to kick back with. If it wasn’t for the bad taste the whole events surrounding it leave in my mouth I would probably grab more, as the beer its self leaves a pleasant taste there.

A pleasant, softly citrus and moderately bitter beer. A nice take on the Kolsch and a bit different. That was happy enough, now let’s look at the background…

Background: Sigh. Ok This is a long one, So I will put it after the more tag so it doesn’t take up the entire page. This beer has a bit of background.

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Muhlen Kolsch

Mühlen Kölsch (Germany: Kolsch: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Clear. A little carbonation in the body and a large loose bubbled head.

Nose: Floral. Lemony.

Body: Light pepper. Smooth lemon and lime – kind of like 7 up without the fizzy pop style. Some bitterness which grows a little over time. Soft orange. Vanilla caramel. Popcorn feeling hops. Quite crisp feeling main body. Toasted teacakes.

Finish: Crisp. Light bitterness and hops. Palma violets. Soft toffee. Popcorn feeling hops.

Conclusion: This is the most gentle beer I have had in a long time. I don’t mean it is lacking flavour wise by the way. I just mean it feels gentle.

I was a bit worried that it was going to be flavourless however, as going in the aroma was very understated and muted – slightly floral but not exactly painting a picture of the beer to come. The first sip dispels that impression. As I said before it is gentle. yes, however flavourless? No. It is sweet and malty with gentle pepperyness to give it grip against the real soft vanilla and caramel.

There are also soft lemon and other citrus flavours, very gentle behind the sweet malt, and just giving it a touch of sparkle. (Note: After finishing the review I looked at Michel Jackson’s notes and he refers to it as marshmallow-like which is a very good call and a good description of the soft sweetness).

The mild level of hops and bitterness are used like the pepper notes, to add backing and make sure it never becomes too sweet. Combined together, the gentle malt and spice prickle becomes a beer that just slides down without becoming too heavy either way and ruining the session.

It is therefore such a sessionable lager and crowd please. Ok, at nearly 5% it is a bit high abv for true session beer, aye, but it is a great beer to show that gentle drinking is not dull drinking. A great beer this one.

Background: Ok, confession time first. This beer is beyond its best before date. Then again its best before date was three months after brewing so I’m confident by any useful measure this is still perfectly fine. Plus it was only two weeks over. However just in case that affected the review I thought I had best declare it. I grabbed it anyway as it is one of Michael Jackson’s 500 great beers and not one I have seen before in all my years of hunting so I didn’t want to miss it. Grabbed from the Beer Emporium’s great bottle selection. Drunk after watching a bit of Attack On Titan, which I am greatly enjoying (and has a great opening theme)

CIMG2247

Ballast Point: Yellowtail Pale Ale (USA: Kolsch: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain golden, a slight haze at the base of the beer. Lots of small bubbles for carbonation. Moderate off white bubbled head.

Nose: Apricot. Sour Dough. Slightly cloying. Biter and grit.  Lemon sherbet. Floral.

Body: Lemon sherbet. Bitter hops. Light lime. Dried fruit. Sultanas. Dried apricot and cream. Slight fizzy feel. Pineapple.

Finish: Apricot. Solid bitterness. Light liquorice. Dry. Sultanas. Sour dough. Eccles cakes. Gooseberry.

Conclusion: A quick look up online indicates that this is, despite its name, a Kolsch.  Which explains a lot. Now just give me a minute to recheck my expectations and return to the beer.

It does explain the lager like colour and the fact that there is the sour dough elements coming in with the clinging bitterness. Refreshing yet almost cloying with the contrasting elements.

Initially the flavour keeps to dried apricot and hops, with a very light hint of sultana dark fruit underneath.  Sweet, but with gritty elements from aroma throughout.  Almost like fruit plants bursting up through concrete. While initially simple as time goes on you realise there is a good bit of play there, solid flavour and bracing bitterness. Mostly light fruit including a nice pineapple chunk coming out after the half way point, but with some darker fruits hiding in the depths. I’m not a big fan of the dry liquorice in the finish but apart from that it does decent with a growing juiciness that really helps it out on the refreshing stakes.

It is in fact surprisingly juicy for a Kolsch, which manages to not compromise the bitterness despite creditable amount of fruit flavours. It isn’t exceptional, but solid and drinkable.  Very much a warm day wake up call. Liquid refreshment for the tongue and hop hit to keep the brain going.

Not a must drink beer, but it brings a lot to the style with a good amount of flavour behind the bitterness.

Background: Well I presume this is the Yellowtail pale Ale. The bottle image is the same but just says “Pale Ale”. I’ve done a bit of googling and I’m fairly confident it is the same beer. If anyone knows otherwise please give me a heads up. Kolsch is an odd style, top fermented like and ale, then lagered.   The last of the Ballast Point beers I have in the cupboard for the moment. Drunk while listening to “The Offspring”- Smash album in a bit of a retro moment.  While they are pretty pop punk they were the band that got me into the punk scene so I’ve still got a bit of a soft spot for them.

Kuppers: Kolsch (Germany: Kolsch: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed gold with a small white bubbled head and quite light carbonation.

Nose: Quite dry and crisp. Lightly syrup sweet. Popcorn and light lemon curd.

Body: Fizzy. Malty core. Wholemeal crackers. Bread. Slight hop tingle. Light custard and lime. Slight mint.

Finish: Solid malt. Slick but gripping texture. Quite bitter. Light toffee and slight mint.

Conclusion:  Hard to call it on this one, easy drinking, definitely more bitter than I would normally attribute. Oft not so much flavours as textures and bitter sweet ranges which you grip onto.

Drunk as an easy going beer to wind down to, and as that it did the job, with the bitter contrast to the slick body doing well at giving the impression of greater complexity than I have described.

It’s not shiny, but that’s not to criticise too much, as its sweet touches, well measured hops and crisp taste are carefully balanced. It’s not an “interesting” beer unless you count how the Kolsch style itself often acts contrary to your expectations. It is however easily drinkable, balanced and refreshing.

Background: Kolsch is surprisingly a top fermented style, though lagered afterwards.  The difference between the expected lager look and the hops and bitterness it often brings means it’s a style that oft confuses my expectations.   In this way it reminds me of a lot of the Germany styles which bring a lot of range into their lighter beers.   In recent years I have drunk less of the German Beers, but the German styles were an important part of my early experimentation with beer and it’s always good to revisit them.

Reissdorf: Kolsch (Germany: Kolsch: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Golden yellow with a moderate swirly white head.

Nose: Quite malty, fluffy, little bit of smooth lemon.

Body: A lively chalky fizz, sweet, very malty. Maltloaf at the back, touch of syrup.

Finish: Decent malt and orange back. Nuttiness, slightest hops and chalk.

Conclusion: A nicely balanced similar to lager style beer with a bit of fizz that does not distract from the main body, with a wonderful dose of malt added.

Obviously not the depths expected of an ale, being closer in type to the lager style, but has a lot of flavour in the malt and the back lasts decently with a nice range of flavour. Not a Kolsch that ends up feeling like “breathing wet air”.

Enjoyable and well made, a nice warm up first beer at the festival.

(Thanks to Will for the assist with this tasting note)

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