My second batch of Kölsch was brewed specifically for a Karneval themed party. It was early in my partial mash/brew in a bag (BIAB) phase. The beer turned out very well and was almost all gone after the party, leading me to brew a second batch soon after.
So what is Karneval and why brew a Kölsch to celebrate? Karneval is a pre-Lent celebration in Germany and German speaking countries. The season starts on November 11, at 11:11, but most of the celebrations take place the week before Lent.
There are a wide variety of traditions in different regions, but the main theme is partying in the street with costumes, parades and, of course, lots of beer. If this sounds familiar, yes it is basically the German equivalent of Mardi Gras.
We celebrate Karneval with an annual party because of Amy’s time in Cologne. Kölsch isn’t necessarily traditional for Karneval, it’s ubiquitous all year in Cologne. I don’t know of any beers that are brewed specifically for Karneval, but considering how varied the traditions are, I’m sure there is something somewhere.
I think it is a good excuse to brew a Kölsch for a couple reasons. The beer benefits from some cold aging, which I can only do in the Winter. It is also a great beer for a party with a variety of people, some of whom are big craft beer fans and others that aren’t. It is a pale, crisp, refreshing beer, but it is a little bit off the beaten path. True beer geeks will like knowing the history and the masses will appreciate that craft beer doesn’t have to mean hop bomb and homebrew doesn’t have to mean vanilla-mango-habanero beer that is 12% ABV with a yeast haze. Not that I’m above trying to brew that beer…
But anyway: my first Kölsch recipe. I used all Weyermann German Pilsner malt for my BIAB mash, then another two and a quarter pounds of pale DME and just under a pound of Bavarian Wheat DME in the boil. This was a six gallon batch and all that added up to an OG of 1.046, which then fermented down to 1.01, giving me an ABV of 4.7% (just missing the mythic-in-my-own-mind 4.8% of the commercial German versions). I used an ounce of Pearle for my 60 minute, bittering hop addition and another ounce of Hersbucker at twenty minutes for a slight hop flavor. By my calculations, this gave me about 33 IBU, which is slightly high for the style and I cut back a bit on my next batch. I will post about that batch and my trip to Cologne tomorrow, but to close out this post, here is my full recipe for this batch.
Style: 6C. Kölsch
Brew Date: 12/28/2012
Serve Date: 2/9/2013
5 lb German Pilsner Malt
2.25 lb Pale DME
.9 lb Bavarian Wheat DME
60 min 28 IBU German Pearle 1 oz
20 min 5 IBU Hersbucker 1 oz
White Labs WLP029 – German Ale/Kölsch