It’s now been about two months since GBLK launched, and quite a while since I brewed Kolsch V.1. Since then, GBLK has developed into a blog dedicated to more than just Kölsch – with interviews, discussion on brewing theory, tips, tricks and so forth; however, all the information posted has one thing in common, or at least I hope it does: it can help us learn how to brew better beer. For me, my main goal is to brew a better Kölsch. And now, having brewed Kölsch V.2, I can see if any of the information mentioned above has actually assisted me in reaching my goal. Today, I am glad to post my tasting notes and thoughts on Kölsch V.1 and Kölsch V.2. In doing so, I will compare them to one of my favorite Köln brewers, Früh. I have used the BJCP beer scoresheet to assist. Thanks to /r/homebrewing readers for suggesting that I take this approach when tasting beer.
Aroma: fruity (cherry?), slight hop notes lingering over top of a wine like character.
Appearance: crystal clear, vibrant, light straw color, frothy head that disappears in seconds with large bubbles raising from the bottom of the glass.
Flavour: slight bitterness up front that grows as it warms up in your mouth. Very dry, with slight, clean acidity. Mild, fruity Esters detected.
Mouthfeel: relatively high carbonation, with low – but detectable astringency.
Overall Impression: An excellent example of Kölsch, which is obviously to style. This is a very drinkable beer, but at times I found it a bit too tart.
Kölsch V.1 – SG 1.049, FG 1.013
Aroma: apple, perhaps a little pear, with a smooth and rounded sensation in the nose.
Appearance: golden in color. Silky. Slight head retention.
Flavour: slightly malt forward with a bit of breadiness detected. Not very dry. Very little hop flavour.
Mouthfeel: slight warmth detected. Carbonation is good, with fine bubbles that pop on your tongue. Silky.
Overall impression: too much like an ale for me. This brew has a FG of 1.013, which is inside the guidelines for Kölsch, but it was not dry enough for my liking. The silkiness of the mouthfeel made me think more of a golden ale. Because of this, it was too far off the mark when comparing it with the Früh.
Kölsch V.2 – SG 1.051, FG 1.011
Preliminary note: I haven’t posted the recipe for this yet, because it is so similar to Kölsch V.1 and requires little extra description. In fact, it’s identical in every way to Kolsch V.1, except for the mash schedule. With Kölsch V.1, there was a 57c step for 45 minutes, raised to 67 for 15 minutes. With Kolsch V.2 there was a 63c step for 45 minutes, raised to a 68c rest for a further 45 minutes. So, there were two primary differences: (1) higher temperatures for both the Beta Amylase step and the Alpha Amylase step, and (2) a longer Alpha Amylase step for Kölsch V.2. Fermentation schedule was also identical: 2 weeks at 15c, 2 weeks at 5c. Oh, and I did mill my own grain for Kölsch V.2 using the Brewferm Malt Mill.
Aroma: mixed fruits: cherry and apple. Rounded, pleasant aroma.
Appearance: Pale, golden straw color that isn’t vibrant. Clarity was not good. Very good head retention, with nice lacing.
Flavour: Dry to start, with a creeping bitterness. Quite crisp, with slight tartness. Slightly acidic. Breadiness of the pilsner malt detected, and well-balanced with the bitterness.
Mouthfeel: very clean, with no astringency. Slips off your tongue, and invites another sip.
Overall Impression: This was much closer to the Früh, which made me pleased. It was not as dry as the Früh, but much drier than Kölsch V.1. It was not as clear as Kölsch V.1, but that is likely to be a result of the fact that V.1 had longer to age. Although the colour was closer to that of the Früh, it was nowhere near as clear, and was less vibrant.
Kölsch V.1 and Kölsch V.2: Thoughts and Reflections
Kölsch V.2 is headed in the right direction. It was almost dry enough – but I think I will need to work the FG down slightly to achieve this. The color was right, but it needs to be a hell of a lot clearer. Further, I need to work on its vibrancy: the Früh was not only crystal clear, but it was also vibrant. I would imagine that working on clarity may assist with this. The Weihenstephan yeast that I have been brewing with is definitely right. It’s lending just enough fruitiness to both V.1 and V.2 and has similar characteristics to the yeast used by Früh. I’m really pleased with it.
It’s not surprising that V.2 was drier than V.1. V.2 started with a higher SG (1.051 compared to 1.049, and fermented lower than V.1 (1.011 compared with 1.013). This, however, was not expected. The mash step temperatures were lower on V.1, and so I was expecting to achieve a more fermentable wort; however, as it turned out, V.2 was more fermentable. I know that Beta and Alpha-Amylase enzymes are more active in specific temperature ranges (see my article on Homebrew Dad), but are these ranges slightly different depending on the type of malt used? For example, is it possible that Beta-Amylase may be more active at 66c for pilsner malt, but more active at 59c for Pale malt? One thing seems certain, however, and that is that a longer / higher temperature rest for Alpha Amylase activity gave Kölsch V.2 better head – no pun intended.
Lastly, I am curious as to why V.1 was darker than V.2. I extended the boil on V.2 to 90 minutes, and I was expecting this to add a bit of color to V.2. The only other difference was the mash schedule, with V.1 having a similar, two-step mash schedule but with lower temperatures. Does the mash schedule effect color? I’ll need to look into this further.
I’d love to hear what you think on the above, so please leave a comment below!Note to the reader: I am by no means a cicerone, so if my tasting notes seem like they have been written by a beginner – it’s cause they have!