Evidence of the first brew made in the area near Cologne (Köln) goes back to the year of 873 AD at a monastery. The beer was certainly a far cry from the Kölsch beer of today. Kölsch began as a turbid, dark, and smoky beer that was brewed with a blend of herbs called gruit used in place of hops. Centuries of gruit use in brewing came to a halt in 1495 when a treaty was signed by Archbishop Hermann of Hessia, and the City of Cologne forbade the production of it. After 1495 hops were used, but it would not be until the late 1800s that Kölsch beer became pale in color. The popularity of pale lagers from Bohemia and the implementation of indirect kilning drastically influenced the color of the Kölsch beer enjoyed today.
In 1986 the brewers in and around Cologne signed the Kölsch Konvention defining geographically and stylistically what is a Kölsch. This appellation similar to Scotch, Champagne, and Chianti ensures the consumer is purchasing authentic Kölsch. Kölsch must be top fermented, pale in color, filtered, vollbier (11-14 Plato), and brewed within 50 kilometers of Cologne.
Kölsch is served in 20 centiliter (6.7 oz) glasses called a Stangen by blue dressed waiters called Köbes in rapid fire. The Köbes keep track of your tab by scoring your coaster with hashmarks.
Source: Warner, Eric, Kölsch, Classic Beer Styles, Brewers Publications, Boulder, Colorado, 1998
Brilliant light straw color topped with bright white foam. Crisp aromas of fresh pear, wild flowers, and green apple. Gentle flavors of ripening fruit, biscuit, and light grain. Alluring finish, light, dry, sparkly, and quaffable.
The crisp and lightly fruity aroma of Kölsch pairs beautifully with shellfish, soft cheeses, and smoked meats.