Classic beer style #1: Kölsch gone crazy

For beer #1 in my post series on homebrewing classic beer styles, I’m brewing a Kölsch, calling it Dog Day Afternoon Kölsch. Most of my homebrews are given names related to dogs, because I like dogs, although I imagine it will be something of a struggle to think of a decent name for every one of the BJCP styles.

Kölsch is a style of pale German ale that looks and tastes more like a German lager – it’s a pale gold color with a little bit of bready German malt flavor.

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I decided to start with a Kölsch because I usually brew pretty strong dark 2751199594_a4aa5de4d0beers, or very hoppy beers, but some of the people I drink with, especially my father and father-in-law, prefer light beers. Technically, a beer can only be called a Kölsch if it’s brewed in Cologne, Germany, but I’m pretty sure this only applies to commercial beers. If I’m wrong then I guess I’m brewing a “Kölsch-style beer”!

I started with a couple really basic recipes found on the reddit homebrewing sub and the homebrewtalk forums, as well as some ideas from Designing Great Beers (Daniels, 2000). Then I made a couple modifications of my own, such as using Mt. Hood and Hersbrucker for hops. I have a few pounds of Mt. Hood in my freezer that I harvested from plants in my backyard this fall, and I just really like Hersbrucker so I occasionally buy them in bulk.

So, here’s the recipe:

Grain: 10.5 lbs. Briess pilsen 2-row, 1.5 lbs. Vienna

Hops: 2 oz. Hersbrucker at 60 min., 1 oz. Mt. Hood at 60, 0.20 oz. Hersbrucker at 2 min. Most of the hops for a Kölsch should be in the bittering, not in the flavor or aroma.

Yeast: Wyeast 2565 Kölsch yeast.

Starting gravity (SG) was 1.048, with 26.8 IBUs.

This is a little more grain than one would normally use for a Kölsch, but I’m just moving into all-grain brewing from partial mashes, and for this beer my new 11 gallon pot had yet to come in, so I had to mash and boil 3 gallons, and then dilute to 5 for the full 5 gallon batch.

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The 3.5 gal pot I was using – with my purple Thermopen

So, I BIAB mashed using two bags in a cooler at 152 using 3.5 gallons until I hit 1.067, which diluted to 1.048 after the boil.

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After the boil, I cooled with a basic immersion chiller, diluted to 5 gallons and tossed in the yeast, which I’d built up in a 1.5 L starter from the Wyeast pack for 3 days.

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I tend to just dump everything from my kettle into my fermenter based on the recommendations from Brülosopher’s Exbeeriments, so you can see the kettle trub and hops at the bottom of the carboy. For some reason though, I got some weird separation between a darker malty layer, and a lighter, yeasty-looking layer. I’m guessing I didn’t mix the diluting water and the boiled wort enough, but I’m not sure. I was pretty worried about this at first, but it seems to have turned out fine.

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I fermented at 60F for one week in the basement using a makeshift swamp cooler. The fermentation kind of went nuts for some reason – I use Fermcap S when I ferment because I don’t really like having to use blow-of001f tubs, and even when brewing a big Russian imperial stout on a yeast cake froma  previous beer the Fermcap S kept me from needing to use a blow-off. But for some reason with this Kölsch yeast I needed a blow-off for nearly a whole week! So, be warned if you go to use Wyeast 2565 – it works great, but it creates a ton of krauesen, especially given how low gravity this beer was.

After a week in the swamp cooler then raised to 70F (by putting the carboy in the pantry) for a diacetyl rest. After a week at 70F I checked the FG, and finding that it was 1.010, which was my projected goal, moved the whole carboy into my fermentation chamber, and dropped it down to 50 over 4 days. Below you can see the color when I checked the gravity – might be a little darker than I was intending, but I think it’s looking good! It also tasted good, which is always a good sign so soon after a beer is brewed.

Next time I think I’ll try to drop it slower so it doesn’t go down by more than 2 degrees a day as a lot of people have recommended that this keeps the yeast healthier and less likely to go dormant.

It’s now been at 50F for almost a week. In another week or two, I’ll bottle it, and post some pictures of the bottles.

Update 1: I’ll pop pictures of bottling up soon. Up next, Belgian blonde!

 

 

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One thought on “Classic beer style #1: Kölsch gone crazy”

  1. That sounds like a great recipe, and you described your process very well! I would like to try this one. We just did our first all grain BIAB a couple weeks ago with a simple Brown Ale. It was a 5 gallon batch using a 10 gallon kettle in our small kitchen. We will be bottling it tomorrow. You have a great blog here!

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