It’s time to talk about Kölsch! You’ve probably had a cold, crisp glass of the straw-colored liquid, but do you know its history?

Kölsch comes to us all the way from Cologne, Germany. The city takes so much pride in its liquid, in fact, that there are laws in place to prevent anyone outside of the Cologne from calling their beer a “kölsch.” All others are considered to be “Kölsch-style ales.” In the grand scheme of beer, kölsch is a relatively new style, barely dating back 100 years. And it drinks like a lager, but it’s an ale…but it gets treated like a lager. Confused? Well you should be. It’s confusing.

Let’s break it down a little further.

At the end of the day there are only two kinds of beer–lagers and ales. Lagers take a long time to make because they’re fermented at low temperatures. Ales move significantly more quickly and ferment at higher temperatures.

Kölsch uses ale yeast for fermentation, but at some of the lowest temperatures possible for ale yeast to perform under. It’s then lagered (stored to increase clarity) for four-ish weeks. It’s a very similar process to making lager, but it ends up being ale.

None of this is really important for drinking the liquid, but we figured it would be nice to know.

The Port City has a broad spectrum of kölsch for locals and tourists to sip the summer away with. It’s a perfect summer beer because it’s crisp, bitter, and typically on the lower end of both ABV and carbonation; it’s a beer meant to be consumed in quantity. In Germany, it’s served in traditional glassware called a stange and bartenders won’t stop filling your glass until you put a coaster on top to indicate you’re done. (At Flytrap Brewing they serve in the stange as well, but you gotta ask the bartender for another when you’re done. Silly NC beer laws.)

Here’s a list of all of the kölsch available in the Greater Wilmington Area:

Flying Machine Brewing Company Vimana (available in cans)
Flytrap Brewing Kölsch (available in bottles)
Front Street Brewery Coastal
-Salty Turtle Beer Company Coastline
Waterline Kölsch
Wilmington Brewing Company Beer Garden
Wrightsville Beach Brewery Cobia

Special mention for a fruited take on the style:
Mad Mole Raspberry Kölsch

So find a Wilmington taproom and order a kölsch to crush!