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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

King's Kolsch- Blue Hills Brewery

Welcome to September!

Yes indeed its Fall again, time for cool weather, baseball pennant races, football, and Octoberfest and Pumpkin Beers galore.

Having spent the month of August celebrating the art of the India Pale Ale (and denying the impending end of summer), I have to admit that I'm ready to move on to a different style. I love IPA's, but a whole month of them is rough on the palette.

Before diving into the predictable pumpkin/Octoberfest beers, I'm going to start the Fall Beer drinking season talking about a personal favorite style of mine- the "kolsch".

I first discovered the kolsch style in 1995 at the Kenmore location of the Boston Beer Works. I was celebrating a friends 21st birthday between classes at BU with lunch at the Beer Works. The beer was their "Kenmore Kolsch". I loved it. It was a lighter, super tasty, golden ale. I had never heard of the style, and the name stuck with me. Since that day, I've always associated the style with a simple, golden, super flavorful beer.

But what is a "kolsch"?

As defined in "The Oxford Companion to Beer" by Garrett Oliver,

"kolsch" is a top-fermented local beer style from Koln (Cologne), Germany. Kolsch beers are characterized by a lightly fruity yeast note in aroma and taste, as well as a pleasant hoppy bitterness.  The history of kolsch beer goes back to 874 AD..." 

It seems kolsch style beer was developed as a response to the pilsners being imported to Cologne from Bohemia. The Germans created a similar yet more flavorful style of beer. From what I've read, it worked.

The "Oxford Companion to Beer" also says of the Kolsch-

"In 1986, the brewers of Cologne renewed the convention that defines a true kolsch (a light-colored, highly fermented, strongly hopped, bright, top-fermented Vollbier) how it has to be served (in the famous 0.2-liter (6 oz), tall, straight kolsch-"Stangen" glass) and especially who is allowed to produce it- only the brewers of Cologne. A bright yellow Vollbier (beer with original gravity of 11%-12%), kolsch has a prominent hoppiness and is predominately brewed with barely malt..... The original gravity is 11.3% on average, while alcohol by volume is 4.8%"

King's Kolsch
Blue Hills Brewery
Canton, MA
7.2% ABV

King's Kolsch pours a clear golden yellow with a tight, frothy head of white.

Smell is wonderfully, mildly fruity. I get bananas, some citrus, and some mild, bready, yeast funk that I've come to expect form Blue Hills distinctive house yeast.

Mouthfeel is light and crisp. Very smooth.

Taste is mild bread and fruit upfront- similar to the nose, but more subdued- I do get some bright citrus hops, with an underying malt sweetness. Less yeast funk than normal from a Blue Hills brew, but it works for this beer and you don't miss it. Finish is mildly hoppy and bitter.

This is an excellent beer. Super smooth and flavorful. Flavors are at the same time distinct and moderately understated. Its everything you've always wanted in a beer. I highly recommend this beer.

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