So wrote The New York Times -- and a huge cheers to that! Kölsch beer is the distinct local beer of Cologne, a major cultural metropolis over 2,000 years old -- equally known for its imposing majestic Cathedral and romantic Hohenzollern Bridge, weighed down by thousands of love locks.
A clear, all-barley pale brew (one of the palest German beers, in fact) with a bright, straw-yellow hue -- Kölsch beer has a characteristically fruity flavor, is subtle and light in body as much as appearance and is celebrated for its wonderful hoppiness. This is all derived from its own special ale yeast, with which the brew is warm-fermented (at about 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit) and then aged and mellowed (or ‘lagered’) near the freezing point – a nearly two month process. Kölsch is always served in the traditional straight-side, narrow, cylindrical 6.75 fluid ounces (or 0.2 liter) glass called a Stange (which translates to ‘rod’ or ‘pole’ in English). The glass is six inches tall but just two inches in diameter, making it almost two and a half times smaller than a British pint glass.
First produced in 1906 – although it did not start officially being called Kölsch until 1918 – Kölsch did not become popular until after World War II. But the city of Cologne has been brewing beer for over a thousand years – that’s more than two hundred years before its UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cologne Cathedral, was even built. Back then, as in most of Germany, beers were of the ale variety. As the Middle Ages neared its end, brewers started making lagers (the so-called ‘new’ beers).