8. KOELSCH AND ALTBIER
8A. Koelsch-Style Ale
Note: The "e" substitutes for an umlaut. In German, this is written "Kölsch"
Light hop aroma, German noble or Czech Saaz hops, giving a light fruitiness. Maltiness none to low. No diacetyl, as this is a lagered beer resulting in a clean finish with just a hint of fruitiness from primary fermentation at ale temperatures. Low sulfur aroma, similar to that of pale continental lagers, is acceptable, particularly in a young Koelsch.
Very pale to light gold. Very clear/brilliant. White head lingers as Belgian lace on the sides of the glass.
Soft, rounded palate; light hop fruitiness and a delicate dryness to slight sweetness in the finish. Clean fermentation with just a little residual fruitiness from ale fermentation temperatures. No diacetyl. Medium-low bitterness. Balanced toward bitterness but malt character should not be completely overshadowed.
Light side of medium body. Medium carbonation. Smooth, crisp mouthfeel.
A delicately balanced beer with just a hint of flavor/aroma hops and fruitiness that finishes dry to slightly sweet with a crisply refreshing bitterness over a base of smooth, rounded Pils malt flavor.
As an appellation, the Koelsch name can only be used for beers brewed in Koeln (Cologne), Germany, where it is a native style.
Brewed at ale temperatures, then cold conditioned to reduce fermentation byproducts.
European hops only. Pils malt; small amounts of wheat may be used (<25%).
IBUs: 16-30 FG: 1.008-1.013
SRM: 3.5-5 ABV: 4.0-5.0%
Available in Koeln only: Malzmuehle, Hellers, PJFrueh, Paeffgen, Sion, Kueppers. In the US: Hollywood Blonde.
8B. Duesseldorf Altbier
Munich malt aroma, with a restrained fruitiness. Hop aroma may vary from low to moderate.
Orange-copper to brown color, with brilliant clarity. Thick, persistent head.
Assertively bitter, with intense Munich malt-derived flavor to support. Fruity esters should be restrained; some chocolatey notes are often present. Hop flavor should be low to medium.
Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation. Some commercial examples have a dry finish resulting from a combination of high bitterness, higher attenuation, and moderate sulfate in the water.
Overall Impression: Bitterness is very high, especially in relation to the (moderate) gravity. Munich malt character lends balance, resulting in a bittersweet character. Very smooth from fermentation at the lower end of the temperature range for ales, followed by a period of lagering.
A very bitter beer with a pronounced Munich malt character. Ingredients, fermentation at low temperature (for an ale), and a lagering period combine to lend a cleaner palate than for most ales. Predates the isolation of bottom fermenting yeast strains, though it approximates many characteristics of lager beers. Many Northern German Altbiers are lagers.
German Munich malt is essential to obtaining the necessary depth of malt character. Hops are traditionally Spalt, though other German varieties are often used.
IBUs: 40-60 FG: 1.012- 1.019
SRM: 11-19 ABV: 5-5.5%
Zum Uerige, Zum Schluessel, Im Fuchschen, Widmer Ur-Alt, Schumacher.
8C. Northern German Altbier
Little aroma; malt should dominate to the extent that any aroma is discernible.
Copper to brown color; very clear. Good head retention.
Assertively bitter yet balanced. Munich malt-derived flavor, along with a chocolate-like malt aspect, supports the bitterness. Esters are restrained, and hop flavor should be low to medium.
Medium body, with an overall balanced impression.
A very clean and relatively bitter beer, balanced by Munich malt character. Less intense than the Duesseldorf version of Altbier.
Most Altbiers produced outside of Duesseldorf are of the Northern German style. Many are simply moderately bitter brown lagers.
Typically made with a Pils base and colored with roasted malt or some dark color syrup. May include Munich malt. Hops are traditionally Spalt, though other German varieties may be substituted.
IBUs: 25-40 FG: 1.012-1.019
SRM: 11-19 ABV: 5-5.5%
DAB Dark, Diebels Alt, Alaskan Amber, Grolsch Autumn Amber.