Drinking Kölsch Beer in Köln

Kolsch Beer from Cologne

I had great fun in Köln / Cologne, Germany on my stag weekend before getting married.

Köln is known for two things. Firstly, the huge cathedral, Germany’s most visited attraction that miraculously remained standing after World War Two, despite the rest of the city being flattened, and the cathedral itself being hit by 14 aerial bombs.

Secondly, and more relevant to the stags, is Kölsch – the local ale, now famous across the world, similar in many ways to lager. It’s cold conditioned, but using a top-fermenting ale yeast, resulting in an easy drinking beer with a clean and crisp finish.

Drinking Kolsch in Koln

Visit a local Brauhaus, and the Kolölsch is served in tiny 200ml glasses, called a ‘stange’. These are delivered by speedy chaps, ‘Köbes’ who hold a special round tray, in which the glasses can sit. They usually also spin around for ease of serving.

The system really works.

The beers keep on coming. As soon as you finish there seems to be more beer in front of you, your old glass nowhere to be seen.

It could be easy to lose track of how many you’ve ordered, but there’s a system for this too.

You have your own beer mat, and they simply number how many Kölsch glasses you have had in ‘5’s. To stop getting more beer you just place your mat on top of your glass.

Fruh and Gaffel, two of the best known Kölsch’s, are included in this case of German beers from Beer Hawk.

Although the term ‘Kölsch’ can only be used by breweries within 30 miles of the city, there are plenty of Kölsch-style beers from UK brewers too, including Larger from 40FT Brewery, This is Nowhere by Lost and Grounded, and Thornbridge’s Tzara,

“Drinking a Kölsch is more than just drinking a beer: it’s like drinking an entire culture.”  – New York Times, 2007.