Carolina Kolsch: Homebrew Recap
So this past Saturday was Brew Day, and it was a great one! I always look forward to Brew Day because its a chance for me to learn, grow, and perfect my craft of brewing beer. If you’re like me, the grind of the day to day and the busyness of life can take over rather quickly, so I have found that if I can get Brew Day on the schedule then I am good to go. When its on the calendar as an appointment, I am less likely to break it and/or push it off. To that point, I try to schedule at least one Brew Day a month, so it’s always a fun and valuable time.
Anyway, this past Saturday I brewed a beer which I have dubbed the Carolina Kolsch. I had never brewed a Kolsch before, but with the weather getting warmer here in South Carolina and a vacation at the beach coming up within the next couple of months, I figured what better beer to brew to beat the heat.
A little background on the Kolsch style…Kolsch is a German beer, originating in the town of Cologne. It is a top-fermented beer with a straw-llike color, attributed to the primary use of Pilsener malt in the mash. It is fermented at warmer temperatures like an ale but then lagered to condition. It’s a unique beer in that respect because it is often mistaken for a lager due to is crispness and finished appearance post-conditioning. The beer is light, crisp and refreshing, offering notes of white bread and/or biscuit, a subtle malty sweetness, German yeast flavor, and usually an herbal or spicy hop character.
For my Carolina Kolsch, I used Pilsener Malt, Vienna Malt, Carahell Malt, Honey Malt, Flaked Wheat, and Rice Hulls. True to the style, a majority of the grain bill was the Pilsener Malt, and both the Carahell and Honey were used in very small quantities—a little bit goes a long way, especially in a lighter brew. Rice Hulls were thrown in as I was using flaked wheat. (Pro Tip: If you are ever using flaked grains in your mash, spend an extra buck or two on some rice hulls. They do not change the flavor or chemistry of your mash, but they do adhere to flaked grains and prevent your mashes from bogging down. There are few things as frustrating as a stuck mash.)
As far as hops go, I used Hallertauer for bittering and Saaz for aromatics. My go-to for yeast is White Labs, so I used their German Ale/Kolsch strain of yeast WLP029.
Brew Day was rather smooth…no real hiccups to report. That was a significant win, as I had a few hurdles to overcome in some recent batches. Carolina Kolsch has been fermenting for about five days now. There was quite a bit of activity those first couple of days, but the beer has begun to settle down. I will keep this batch in primary for another nine days or so then rack to secondary for another couple of weeks before cold crashing and bottling. I will probably set aside a portion of this beer and condition it even longer for comparison sake.