What is a Kolschbier (Kolsch)?

What is a Kolschbier (Kolsch)?

Kolschbier is a popular “warm weather beer” and German classic.  The name Kolsch (pronounced “kelsch”) is derived from its location… Koln, Germany (or Cologne for us Yanks).  The name indicates that the beer was brewed in the traditional style of that particular city.

In order to officially called a Kolsh, the beer must be brewed by a member of the Koln Brewers Union.  Much like the name “champagne” in the snobbier world of wine, the name Kolschbier is protected and controlled by the Union and may not be used by anyone else.

Tasting Notes

Kolschbier is golden in color with a somewhat hazy finish, partly due to the addition of wheat, but mostly the result of being unfiltered.  The style should have a delicate, lightly fruity flavor with a dry and medium hoppy finish.  A very refreshing beer that is often enjoyed in the warmer summer months.

While it is brewed as an ale, with top fermenting yeast, it undergoes a cold fermentation and aging period, giving it its “hybrid” status (see Difference Between and Ale and a Lager for more info).

The Kolschbier is aslo said to have medicinal powers, specifically as an excellent curative for digestive problems (so put the pepto back on the shelf and grab a Kolsch!).

Examples of Kolschbier

Only Available in Colone:

PJ Früh Kölsch

Dom Kölsch

Küppers Kölsch



US Attempts at Kolsch

Goose Island Summer Time German-Style Kolsch Bier

Crooked River Kölsch

7 thoughts on “What is a Kolschbier (Kolsch)?”

  1. Kölsch is not hazy, and it is filtered.

    It is also neither an ale, nor a “hybrid”, whatever that is. It is a top-fermenting beer which goes through a period of cold conditioning. Simple as that.

  2. Isn’t that what hybrid means?

    Here is the category from the 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines (which is what is posted on bjcp.org in 2011)
    Category 6 — Light Hybrid Beer
    6A. Cream Ale
    6B. Blonde Ale
    6C. Kölsch
    6D. American Wheat or Rye Beer
    That pretty much puts it in the category of hybrid.

  3. I had a few of these in a Koln Bierkeller excellent stuff it was plinking away for a good while some drops a good 8 inches from the glass.

  4. “It is a top-fermenting beer which goes through a period of cold conditioning.” The perfect definition of a hybrid beer.

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