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Ask The Masters

Question: "I've got a quick question regarding Kölsch flavor. My batch is now carbonated nicely, and I've tasted the first bottle. It tastes, in my opinion, just fine, but I feel that the flavor is somewhat bold. Bold? Hard to express -- it's not one single thing that stands out beyond that typical yeast profile of the Kölsch. It's very present and up front. I hear people say that Kölsches (is that the plural?) should be light, but this is certainly a puss-full of flavor. Is there anything wrong with that?"

Master Calvin responds: "Kölsch should not be bold-flavored. Compared to most craft beers we're used to here in the USA, it's quite delicate. Even craft-brewed Kölsch here in the USA is usually overly up-front and coarse compared to some of the German versions. Esters, while high to German noses, are generally quite modest by our standards. It's hard to say precisely, judging only from your description, but you might just be looking at a young, unfinished beer. Kölsch requires a relatively long lagering time, very unlike most ales. So initially, it will be full of yeasty, fresh-fermented flavors, and sometimes the hops and grain flavors seem coarse and even harsh when young, but those should fade and blend in over a couple of months. I brewed one of those a year ago and was disappointed at first, but two months of cold lagering made it a winner. So store it cold, and it should improve.

And it's too late now for your batch, but for the rest of the Kölsch brewers out there: Ferment with lots of yeast, and keep fermentation temp in the low 60's MAX for the right profile. As for the plural of Kölsch, as far as both German and the Kölnisch dialect go (I checked) it's just Kölsch. In proper German texts, I've seen Kölsch-Sorten (Kölsch-types) when referring to different types of Kölsch as opposed to several glasses of the same type. In English, your guess is as good as mine".

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