Overview for the Kölsch

The Kölsch is a top-fermenting lagered beer that originated in Cologne, Germany, in the 19th century to combat the proliferation of bottom-fermented pale lagers. Its color is a pale gold with excellent clarity. Medium-light to medium body that’s well-attenuated with a slightly crisp and dry finish. Malt flavor is bready and often slightly sweet. Traditional German hops lend a floral, spicy or herbal character with a bitterness ranging from low to moderate. The balance between malt and hops can vary widely. Alcohol level is sessionable. Should be consumed fresh.

Style Expectations

A clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age. Brilliant clarity is characteristic.


Very pale gold to light gold. Very clear (authentic commercial versions are filtered to a brilliant clarity). Has a delicate white head that may not persist.


Low to very low malt aroma, with a grainy-sweet character. A pleasant, subtle fruit aroma from fermentation (apple, cherry or pear) is acceptable, but not always present. A low floral, spicy or herbal hop aroma is optional but not out of style. Some yeast strains may give a slight winy or sulfury character (this characteristic is also optional, but not a fault). Overall, the intensity of aromatics is fairly subtle but generally balanced, clean, and fresh.


Soft, rounded palate comprised of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight crispness in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste). The malt tends to be grainy-sweet, possibly with a very light bready or honey quality. The hop flavor is variable, and can range from low to moderately-high; most are medium-low to medium intensity and have a floral, spicy, or herbal character. May have a malty-sweet impression at the start, but this is not required. No noticeable residual sweetness. May have a slightly winy, minerally, or sulfury accent that accentuates the dryness and flavor balance. A slight wheat taste is rare but not a fault. Otherwise, very clean.


Medium-light to medium body (most are medium-light). Medium to medium-high carbonation. Smooth and generally crisp and well-attenuated.


Koffee Kölsch

Kölsch  •  Huss Brewing Co.

Koffee Kölsch is a German-style Kölsch brewed by Huss Brewing Co. that adds mild coffee beans to bready malt and hazelnut. Read More

Tart Peach Kolsch

Kölsch  •  Ballast Point Brewing Company

Tart Peach Kolsch is a German-style Kölsch by Ballast Point Brewing Company that blends tart peaches and sour lemon with bready malt. Read More

Kapitan’s Kolsch

Kölsch  •  Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Kapitan’s Kolsch is a German-style Kölsch by Biscayne Bay Brewing Company that delicately balances pale malt, fruity esters, honey, and spicy hops. Read More

Captain Kidd’s Kölsch

Kölsch  •  Pirate Republic Brewing Company

Captain Kidd’s Kölsch by Pirate Republic Brewing Company blasts the palate with spicy and floral hops in this otherwise refreshing brew. Read More

Fully Manual

Kölsch  •  Civil Society Brewing Co.Coppertail Brewing Co.

Fully Manual is a German-style Kölsch by Civil Society Brewing Co. and Coppertail Brewing Co. that exhibits a lovely balance of spicy hops and sweet grain. Read More

Harpoon Captain Kölsch

Kölsch  •  Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Captain Kölsch is a German-style Kölsch by Harpoon Brewery that’s dark in color, but light on taste. Read More

Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch

Kölsch  •  Rogue Ales

Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch is a German-style Kölsch by Rogue Ales that’s light and flavorful with cracker malt, grassy hops, and wild honey. Read More

Der Chancellor

Kölsch  •  Tequesta Brewing Co.

Der Chancellor, a German-style Kölsch by Tequesta Brewing Co. nicely balances lemon and pepper hops with a light bready malt. Read More

American Kölsch

Kölsch  •  Boulevard Brewing Co.

American Kölsch is a German-style Kölsch by Boulevard Brewing Co. that’s light and lively with spicy and herbal hops balanced by bready malt. Read More


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