Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Battle de Kölsch!

I recently paired my Frosty Dog kölsch in a head-to-head battle with one of the few commercial examples I’ve seen with some regularity in the Minneapolis area, Lake Superior’s Kayak Kölsch. I do these types of pairings every once and a while to really test myself out against commercial breweries. It shows me what I’d need to do to bring my recipes closer to commercial examples of a given style. Though I’ve got plenty of homebrew sitting around, I never want to stop buying commercial craft beers, as I see tasting them as an opportunity to learn more about what fits into various styles and to also be inspired to try new things in recipe formulation. So, here it goes:

Kayak Kölsch

  • Very light in body, screams “summer beer”
  • More carbonation than my batch
  • Hops are hitting the back of my tongue, very citrusy
  • Lighter in color than my batch
  • Similar malt character and yeast characteristics imparted, though much like a “lite” version of my batch
Frosty Dog Kölsch
  • More carmel flavors, maltier/heavier than the Kayak
  • Similar citrus hop profile, yet muted by comparison due to the greater amount of malt employed
  • Very minor “burnt” or roasty notes evident that weren’t apparent at all in the commercial example

Kayak on left, Frosty Dog on right

I’m assuming the reason why my batch turned out much thicker than the commercial example was because of my concern about lack of efficiency in my mashing and sparging process. I’ve been upping the amount of malt I use when compared to many recipes, and though I’ve been doing the math to increase each type of grain in proper proportion, maybe some grains have their sugars extracted at different rates. In order to pump up a recipe, maybe I’m not supposed to increase the specialty grains in exact proportion to the base malts? I don’t know, just guessing.

Regardless, I’m still digging my kölsch quite a bit as a summer beer even though it’s heavier than the commercial example. I’ll definitely brew a kölsch again, possibly over the winter. It’s about the closest thing to a lighter lager that I can execute while being limited mainly to ale production for most of the year (without a dedicated fermentation refrigerator).

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