What exactly is Kölsch?
Kölsch is a German top-fermented ale, golden in color and crystal clear with a hint of graininess and fruit in the aroma. It has a light to medium body that is soft, clean, and very drinkable.
Where does it come from?
Kölsch is the specialty brewing style that has made the city of Cologne famous. Located in the northwest part of Germany, Cologne has more breweries than any other city in the world. So it is definitely beer central, and most of Cologne’s breweries brew nothing but Kölsch.
Why haven’t I heard more about it?
Kölsch can only be brewed within a twenty-mile radius of Koln (Cologne). The Kolsch Convention, signed in 1985, protects the definition of Kölsch and designates the shape of a glass and the region in which the beer may be produced. As Michael Jackson writes in his excellent book, The Pocket Guide to Beer, Kolsch would be “widely imitated. . .if it were not protected by its appellation Kölschbier (the beer of Cologne). Except in cases of lengthy precedent, a beer may not label itself Kölsch unless it is made in the Cologne metropolitan area.” Most of the Kölsch breweries do not ship outside the Cologne area, let alone export. Küpper’s is an exception.
And Hollywood Blonde tastes like Kölsch?
Hollywood Blonde is a brilliant golden ale with the signature graininess and the soft, delicate palate that defines the Kölsch style. Using a special strain of Kölsch yeast, it is fermented warm and then cold-aged (lagered) to produce its smooth clean finish.
The Great Beer Company’s goal in producing Hollywood Blonde was not to duplicate a Kölsch exactly, but rather to draw on some of its unique characteristics to produce a distinctive beer that would be enjoyable to the American beer drinker. Hollywood Blonde is similar to Kölsch in that it is very smooth and drinkable, with very little aftertaste. It differs, however, in several aspects of its brewing as well in its ingredients. Hollywood Blonde is maltier, richer, not as pale, and has more flavor and body than that of the Kölsch beers brewed in Cologne. The special strain of yeast used imparts a flavor reminiscent of a fine German beer and is part of what makes Hollywood Blonde so distinctive. But although it is a German style beer, Hollywood Blonde is better balanced and more drinkable than a pilsener, dancing between hops and malt with each sip.