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German Kolsch Recipe Critique

Morning all,

I’ve got a 1 L starter with White Labs European Ale Yeast (011) on the stir plate as we speak and plan on brewing a German Kolsch tomorrow. Here is my recipe. Always open to opinions and critiques.

OG: 1.049
IBUs: 26

9 lbs German pilsner malt
.5 lbs Vienna malt

Mash @ 149 for 60 minutes. Boil for 90, and add the following hops:
60 min: .5 oz Super Galena (nice clean bittering hop)
15 min: .5 oz Hallertau

Chill to mid 50s and ferment at 58.

Hi Dave,

Recipe looks good except for one thing: you have the wrong yeast. To make Kolsch, you need a Kolsch yeast and you need to ferment at the proper temperature - otherwise you don’t get the distinctive hints of wine/fruit that the Kolsch yeast put out. With the WL011, you will get a blond ale.

Also, starters really should be at least 2 liters for moderate strength ales like your recipe, and double that for lagers. A kolsch yeast is an ale with lager-like properties, and I typically use a 3 liter starter because of that. That also helps it finish dry, which is important for a Kolsch.

Understood, but I went on white labs website and they suggested that a kolsch would be a good option for the yeast based on it’s qualities (malt forward, lower end of the ale temp range, etc.). I don’t believe that I’ve ever had a kolsch were wine/ fruit hints were expressed. According to the BJCP, those aren’t qualities that one should look for in a German Kolsch. While I don’t have to brew tomorrow, I can step this starter up to a 2 or 3 liter. I was simply wondering if this yeast and grain bill/ hop schedule would accommodate the yeast. Yeah, I can make a blonde, but that might be a bit boring. :slight_smile:

From white labs website:

Wlp011
Malty, Northern European-origin ale yeast. Low ester production, giving a clean profile. Little to no sulfur production. Low attenuation helps to contribute to the malty character. Good for Alt, Kolsch, malty English ales, and fruit beers.

Your recipe looks fine, though I’d drop your ibus to 22.

But the yeast really makes this style. Brewing with your current yeast is like making a Bavarian wheat beer with 1056. It works, but it’s definitely not a hefeweizen.

The Kolsch yeast isn’t as overpowering as my example, but a Kolsch that is from Koln literally can’t be reproduced without a Kolsch yeast.

My wife is from Koln, you gotta trust me in this one. Your beer will be a fine beer, but not distinctive to Kolschbier.

The whitelabs examples are very general. A Kolsch and altbier can’t be brewed with the same yeast. A German brewer somewhere just had a heart attack :slight_smile:

Where do you live in Charleston, that’s actually where i’m from.

I definitely understand . I’m really trying to put something together on a whim without fully understanding the yeast. What would you suggest as opposed to a kolsch with the yeast ? I can’t seem to really find any good solid info about it.

I went to school at CofC and live in Summerville . Beautiful area !

[quote=“holaday1185”]I definitely understand . I’m really trying to put something together on a whim without fully understanding the yeast. What would you suggest as opposed to a kolsch with the yeast ? I can’t seem to really find any good solid info about it.

I went to school at CofC and live in Summerville . Beautiful area ![/quote]

I really don’t think you can. Even manipulating the flavor profile with different fermentation temps, won’t get you there.

A blonde ale is okay. Good for the summertime. Can you adjust your recipe and make a killer alt instead?

I lived in West Ashley, Johns Island, Parks West. Incredible area. Trying to move back someday.

I’d suggest you brew what you were planning to, and then in the near future brew the exact same thing using a Kolsch yeast. A blond is a great beer this time of year, and having the back-to-back brews with only that one difference will give you two great benefits: it will let you do side-by-side comparisons to know what makes a Kolsch so special, and if you are still tuning in your brewing techniques or set-up, an immediate repeat brew like this will be very valuable to help you to achieve better proficiency and repeatability.

I stepped up my starter today to 2+ L and have decided that I am going to brew my original recipe plus a small (.25 lbs) amount of wheat. Going to ferment at 58 and see what happens. Sure, it might not be the “proper” yeast, but it will make good beer.

I’m actually brewing with WLP011 for the first time right now… an altbier. I would ordinarily use 1007 but I wanted to try the WLP011 on a suggestion from another brewer. The WL site does say that Alt and Kolsch can be made with 011 but I made a few kolsch batches earlier this year and used Wyeast 2565.

I’ve read this too, but never noticed that distinctive Kolsch flavor in an alt…

I did however just brew a dark Czech lager recipe with a Kolsch slurry and came out nice. The heavy amount of darker malts helped mask the winery flavors and it turned out very clean.

I’ve read this too, but never noticed that distinctive Kolsch flavor in an alt…

I did however just brew a dark Czech lager recipe with a Kolsch slurry and came out nice. The heavy amount of darker malts helped mask the winery flavors and it turned out very clean.[/quote]
Yeah, the 2565 is supposed to give a slight wine-like, maybe ‘tart’ character (very subtle) and that would depend on the temp of the fermentation. It’s a relatively neutral strain but I think it produces the right character for a Kolsch and I really like it. I fermented both of these kolsch beers cool (near 60°) and got very clean ales in both cases. If I were to make a kolsch, it would be with 2565, no question. I think there are alt and kolsch yeasts by White Labs (029 and 036, I think) but I haven’t tried either one. This WLP011 seems like a nice yeast and I’m always looking for ‘other’ ale yeasts because I seem to keep using the same ones over and over.

I’ve read this too, but never noticed that distinctive Kolsch flavor in an alt…

I did however just brew a dark Czech lager recipe with a Kolsch slurry and came out nice. The heavy amount of darker malts helped mask the winery flavors and it turned out very clean.[/quote]
Yeah, the 2565 is supposed to give a slight wine-like, maybe ‘tart’ character (very subtle) and that would depend on the temp of the fermentation. It’s a relatively neutral strain but I think it produces the right character for a Kolsch and I really like it. I fermented both of these kolsch beers cool (near 60°) and got very clean ales in both cases. If I were to make a kolsch, it would be with 2565, no question. I think there are alt and kolsch yeasts by White Labs (029 and 036, I think) but I haven’t tried either one. This WLP011 seems like a nice yeast and I’m always looking for ‘other’ ale yeasts because I seem to keep using the same ones over and over.[/quote]

I’ve always used the 2565 as my lhbs carries this. I used to ferment it at 63-65 and the last time the in-laws were over, they said it was too fruity. My latest rendition is on tap now and I held fermentation right at 60F and was super clean…

Until the yeast dropped out (7wks cold conditioning and gelatin) and the Kolsch yeasty flavor absolutely shined through perfectly.

I forget the lower limit of 2565 but I want to say somewhere around 58° or so. That’s pretty cool and tough for me to maintain in a swamp cooler but I prefer a cleaner kolsch and honestly… clean beer in general. I ferment pretty much everything at the lower limit of the range and possibly lower than that. I have used WLP001 and 1056 around 60° and gotten lager-like beer as a result. All of this talk is making me consider making more kolsch! Cheers.

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