Kölsch Konvention 2013!

Amy and I held our own Kölsch Konvention last May. The fate of an entire city’s brewers may not have hung in the balance, but we still had some tough decisions to make. We gathered two authentic German Kölsches, two American craft beer interpretations of the style and my first two batches of Amy Ni-Kölsch and, in a blind taste test, tried to figure out which was which and ranked our favorites. All samples were poured from bottles into small pilsner glasses, as we only had one stange on hand.

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The beers were, from left to right:
1. Reissdorf (German)
2. Stoudt’s Karneval Kölsch (American)
3. Lancaster Brewing Company Kölsch (American)
4. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 1 (Homebrew)
5. Gaffel (German)
6. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 2 (Homebrew)

In the first event, trying to pick which was which, Amy had some problems. She wouldn’t even tell me what she thought was what after hearing the answers, so I’m not sure but I don’t think more than one or two of them were correct. I got Gaffel and Stoudt’s switched. If you read yesterday’s post, you may note that I didn’t have Gaffel when we were in Cologne. This was actually the first time I had tried it, so I was pretty happy with my choices.

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Now, the important part: our rankings. For scientific reasons, we of course cast our ballots for both events before checking the answers to the first one. Here is how Amy ranked them, from her favorite to least:
1. Gaffel
2. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 1
3. Lancaster Brewing Company Kölsch
4. Reissdorf
5. Stoudt’s Karneval Kölsch
6. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 2

I was very surprised to see that she had ranked the first homebrew so highly as I thought it was too bitter and she is normally very adverse to bitter beers. Here is how I ranked the beers along with the one or two word descriptions I gave each along the way:
1. Reissdorf – bready
2. Gaffel – sweet and fruity
3. Stoudt’s Karneval Kölsch – estery
4. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 2 – definitely AN-K2
5. Lancaster Brewing Company Kölsch – dull (sorry… I’m a big LBC fan, didn’t like this one, though)
6. Amy Ni-Kölsch Batch 1 – bitter

I unknowingly ranked the two German beers one and two. This surprised me at the time, but why should it? I could easily pick out the homebrews because they were a little darker. I had been drinking the second batch quite a bit at that time and knew that one from every possible sensory point right away. Despite the similar descriptors I gave the two that I mixed up, they were quite different and the Stoudt’s beer, which I had several times before, seemed very different from how I remembered it. I always thought of it as one of the more authentic American interpretations, but it stuck out like a sore thumb in this group… still delicious, though.

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After the main event, we split a bottle of Früh Sprizz that we had been holding onto for way too long. We picked it up in a gift shop when we were in Cologne the previous year, mainly for the awesome bottle. It was half Früh Kölsch, half citrus soda. It was a refreshing palate cleanser barely resembled beer.

I had a lot of fun doing this. I would love to do more similar tastings with different beers and bigger groups of friends. Why is it so hard to organize these things? Have you and your friends done anything like this? Let me know and come back tomorrow to see what the professionals thought of my homebrewed Kölsch.

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