Homebrew DC: Kölsch, Springtime’s True Delight

Photo courtesy of ilovebutter
Adding the hops
courtesy of ilovebutter

This is the second in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

Now that springtime is upon us, it’s time to start drinking like it. I brought this beer to fellow We Love DC authors Tom and Tiff’s house recently for a barbecue and it was met with a standing ovation. Well, most people were standing anyway, and truthfully there was no real ovation, but people expressed their desire to have more by, well, having more. Another almost-empty keg…

A Kölsch is an ale that is light, crisp, and great to drink. I think of a kölsch as a great springtime drink, cool and refreshing, clear, malty, and with a definite but not overpowering hoppy flavor. This is a pretty simple homebrew recipe, using some grains, but relying mostly on malt extracts. It’ll make you the popular house on the block on those warm spring nights.

Malt Extract:
3.3 pounds pilsen malt extract and 2.0 pounds wheat dry malt extract
Specialty Grain: 12 oz. Carapils
Bittering Hops: 2.0 ounces Hallertau (60 minutes)
Aroma Hops: 1.0 ounces Hallertau (10 minutes)

Steep 12 ounces milled Carapils malt in two gallons of water for 20 minutes between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. When the time is up, pour the liquid through a sieve to remove the grain and hulls. If the grains are boiled they can leach tannins into the wort, which will produce undesired flavors in your beer. Discard the grain somehow. I recommend making something else from it or composting it.

Bring the wort to a boil. At the same time, let the cans of extract sit in hot tap water so they will be easy to pour.

Add the warmed syrup to the boiling water, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

Bring the kettle back to a boil and add 2.0 ounces Hallertau hops in the wort for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, add the two pounds of dry malt extract. Stir thoroughly so the dry powder is mixed well into the wort. You may have to stir rapidly with a whisk to get the lumps out of the liquid.

Return to a boil for 5 minutes.

Add 1.0 ounces Hallertau hops for flavoring and boil ten minutes more.

Cool the brew pot by placing it in a sink full of ice. Do not add ice directly to the wort.

Pour the cooled wort into your sanitized fermenter, top up to five gallons, and when it has reached 75 degrees or cooler, pitch the yeast.

This article first appeared at RealHomebrew.com.

Carl Weaver is a writer and brewer for RealHomebrew.com and has been making beer and wine for more than 20 years. He is also an avid photographer and writer and just finished his first book, about a trip he took to Thailand to live in Buddhist monasteries. He considers himself the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest darned guy in the world. Follow him on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Homebrew DC: Kölsch, Springtime’s True Delight

  1. What yeast did you use, and at what temp did you ferment it? I love Kolsch, but I’ve heard you need to keep it at a temp somewhere between a normal ale and a lager (and I don’t have the equipment for that).

  2. Hi Daniel. Good question. I would have to look at my records for the yeast I used. I meant to include that. It fermented at about 70 degrees, which is not optimal, and as a result it has a bit of a cloudy look to it. It tastes great, though. I will be posting a post-mortem at RealHomebrew.com once I get my head above the cloud of ISO compliance at work. :)

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  4. Optimal or not, the end result was good. As I told Carl at the time, one of the reasons I’ve never gotten too interested in home brewing is that I am a lager drinker, not ale, and everything I’d read said you needed a cooler and more precise control for lagers. This kolsch seemed to dispute that point and it was quite good.

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