I decided to brew a Kölsch-style beer this past weekend, which was somewhat unplanned. After I learned my wife would be having dinner with a girlfriend Saturday, I figured I might as well get another batch going. I’m going to put a halt on production in a few weeks so I can get all of my beer out of fermenters and into bottles before we go to Europe in May/June, so might as well brew now! The decision to brew this style was based solely off a pint of Lake Superior’s Kayak Kölsch I’d purchased at Pracna during the last NBA meeting. Good stuff.
I’m calling this batch “Frosty Dog” because 1) Kölsch-style beers use ale yeast but are generally fermented much cooler than most ales (55-63*) to prevent any ester production and to help achieve maximum attenuation, and 2) because my wife wants to bring some Barking Dog brews to an upcoming “Frosty Friday” (an afternoon happy hour they have at her company every week — jealous!) and I figured this style of beer would go over very well with both craft beer lovers and those whose palates have yet to be challenged. It’s kind of like a training wheels homebrew. Perfect.
This recipe is the first I’ve intentionally formulated on my own. Kölsch-style beers are pretty straightforward as far as the grain bill goes and the hops are downplayed in most recipes I found, as well as in the style guidelines. The one thing that seemed to be very important was the type of yeast to use, as this style gets many of its characteristics from yeast. Here’s the rundown:
Base: 10 lbs. Kölsch malt (Global Malt), 2 lbs. White Wheat (Rahr)
Specialty: 8 oz. Munich malt 10L (Briess)
Hops: French Strisselspalt 2.6%AA (First-wort hop), German Perle 7.8%AA (30″)
Yeast: White Labs WLP029 German Ale/ Kölsch
Irish moss and yeast nutrient (13″)
- 1600 ml starter (1.25 c golden light DME + 5-6 c water) 3 days prior, chilled after two. Decanted to 650-700 ml.
- 85 min. mash with 3-4 gal. at 150*, 40 min. sparge with 5 gal. water coming into mash tun at 170*
- Pre-boil OG = 10.5 brix = 1.042, pre-boil volume = 6.5 gal.
- Post-boil OG = 14 brix = 1.057, post-boil volume = 5.25 gal.
My volume after getting the batch into primary was low! Maybe 4-4.5 gal. until I tipped the kettle up and got it over 4.5 gal, but that also introduced plenty of extra hop sludge into primary. Based on this, I would have skipped decanting the starter had I known the boil volume was going to be so low.
Did you know “Fr. Strisselspalt” hops are not the same thing as German Spalt hops? I didn’t. I was looking for “Spalt” and didn’t find any labeled as such in the cooler at the brew shop, so I got what was closest in spelling and alpha acid range. We’ll see how it turns out… I used a nylon hop bag for the 30″ flavor hop addition and wished I would have done that for the first-wort hop addition as well. Too much hop sludge made it to primary for my taste.
It wasn’t all learning the hard way on this brew day. I tried more of a “batch sparge” method upon encouragement from NBA club members Josh and Andrew, and I was actually really happy with my OG and efficiency because of this. I’m excited to employ this method going forward, as it takes considerably less time and yields higher gravity wort. This brew day took me maybe five and a half hours as opposed to a solid eight hours it had been consistently taking.
I’m guessing this Kölsch will be through primary fermentation by mid-April, then I’ll “lager” it at 52* (my current cellar temp – hope it holds as the weather improves…) as the style dictates until maybe mid-May, then bottle it right before we go to Europe so it’ll be ready and waiting our return in June… OR maybe I’ll let it lager a full 7 weeks and bottle it when we get back. Not sure yet. We’ll see how it goes.