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Pronounced (and sometimes written as) Koelsch, Kölsch beer originated in Cologne (Köln), Germany, centuries ago.

Originally, before the development of pale malts, Kölsch-style beer was dark in color. It evolved into a crystal-clear, bright-golden beer in the years leading up to the 20th century, in part due to the growing popularity of the Pilsner style and lager production in Germany. Generally warm-fermented with an ale yeast, yet lagered, or matured, at a cold temperature, Kölsch possesses both ale and lager characteristics. (In nearby Düsseldorf, Germany, brewers use the same process with the Altbier style.) Kölsch-style beer exhibits aromas of mild biscuit-y pale malts, subtle fruity ale yeast esters and moderate Noble hops. The flavors of most Kölsch beer brands are quite balanced on the palate, mirroring the aromas with varying degrees of malt, ester and hop character. Kölsch is quite refreshing served cold, but you’ll taste its flavors evolve as the beer warms. Some aficionados, including many Cologne natives, prefer a serving temperature near 50°.

Today, about 20 breweries in Cologne and its immediate surroundings brew Kölsch—and, by law, they are the only German brewers permitted to market their beer as Kölsch. This law does not apply outside of Germany, however, which has led many American craft brewers to make their own interpretations of the Kölsch style, often as a summertime seasonal release.

Characteristics: Crisp, grainy, floral, light-bodied
ABV range: 4.5-5.5% IBU: 20-28
Popular Kölsch and Kölsch-style beer brands: Gaffel Kölsch, Reissdorf Kölsch, Ballast Point Pale Ale, Harpoon Summer Beer, Alaskan Summer Ale, Pyramid Curve Ball Blonde Ale, Stoudts Karnival Kölsch, New Holland Full Circle
Serving Temperature: Cold, 39-45°
Cheese Pairing Ideas: Brick, Brie, Camembert, Edam, Monterey Jack
Food Pairing Ideas: German entrees, salads, chicken dishes, grilled foods, seafood and spicy foods

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