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Great American Kölsch-Style Beers To Sip This Spring

We’ve written in the past about the plethora of beer styles well-suited to spring. This week, we turn our attention to the German Kölsch. This top-fermented, crisp, subtly hoppy beer is similar to a classic lager and originated in the city of Cologne in the 17th century. Like many other region-specific forms of alcohol, a true Kölsch has very specific geographical parameters — in this case, that it can only be brewed within 50 kilometers of the city.

On top of location, there are other rules that must be met in order to call the beer a Kölsch. It can’t be hazy, must be pale, hoppy, and brewed in accordance (like many German beers) with the Reinheitsgebot (German’s beer purity order that is designed to limit the ingredients that can be added to any recipe).

But just because the Germans are strict about the style, hasn’t stopped American brewers from making their own Kölsch-style brews. Check out ten of our favorites below.

Left Hand Travelin’ Light

Left Hand

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

When it comes to Kölsch-style ales, they’d better be bright, subtly floral, and filled with crisp, refreshing flavors. Left Hand Traveling Light — with its clean flavor and 2-Row, Vienna, and Acidulated malts and its Willamette and Mt Hood hops (among other varietals) — definitely fits the mold. It was actually replaced by 1265 pilsner last year, but you can still find bottles and cans around for sale.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find clean, fresh scents of floral and subtly piney hops as well as freshly baked bread and malt sweetness. On the palate, you’ll be greeted with fresh-cut grass, sweet caramel, rich malts, and a nice resinous backbone. The finish is fresh, crisp, and very thirst-quenching.

Bottom Line:

It’s hard to top this Kölsch-style beer. It’s light-yet-flavorful and totally sessionable. Overall, a great choice for spring drinking.

Rogue Honey Kölsch

Rogue Ales

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

What sets this Kölsch-style beer apart from the others on the list is the addition of wildflower honey sourced from Rogue’s onsite Revolution Garden. This cloyingly sweet, natural product melds perfectly with the 2-Row and Munich, wheat, DextraPils, and Aciduated malts and Kölsch #2 yeast and Crystal hops.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of clover honey, rich malts, and caramel corn. The palate is swirling with floral sweetness, rich honey, graham crackers, and subtly bitter hops. The finish is a great combination of piney hops and sweet honey.

Bottom Line:

This is a different type of Kölsch than many on this list and that’s not such a bad thing. The addition of natural honey is subtle enough to simply highlight the other flavors instead of overpowering them.

Upslope Rocky Mountain Kölsch

Upslope

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

If you’ve never had a beer from Colorado’s Upslope, you’re really missing out. We suggest starting with one of its best, its Rocky Mountain Kölsch. The crew in Boulder set out to create a beer that tasted like you were drinking in the Rocky Mountains themselves. They did this by combining traditional Kölsch yeast and locally sourced honey with sage, Lemondrop, and Mosaic hops.

Tasting Notes:

Nose this beer for a few moments and breathe in the aromas of subtle baking spices, lemon zest, and graham crackers. Take a sip and you’ll find flavors of subtle sage, baked bread, fresh, floral hops, and orange peels. It all ends with a mixture of resinous hops and caramel sweetness.

Bottom Line:

This is a beer for fans of the great outdoors. Pack it into your backpack and bring it on your next hike or mountain biking excursion for a mid-trip pick-me-up.

Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower

Saint Arnold

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $9 for a six-pack

The Beer:

With a name like Fancy Lawnmower, you know this is a beer for spring and summer imbibing. This German-style Kölsch was crafted to be as close to the real thing as possible. They do this by brewing with traditional Kölsch yeast and Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find notes of fresh-cut grass, cracker malt, subtle caramel, and vibrant lemon zest. On the palate, you’ll find rich malts, sweet corn, and floral, subtly bitter hops. The finish is clean, bright, and thirst-quenching.

Bottom Line:

We’re all about drinking light, refreshing beers after mowing the lawn, doing yard work, or simply standing outside in the sun. This beer feels like it was made with these exact activities in mind.

Schlafly Kölsch

Schlafly

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Like many of the beers on this list, Schlafly believes that you can’t truly make an authentic Kölsch-style beer without using traditional Kölsch yeast. The brewery gets its yeast from Köln, Germany, where the style originated. That’s about as authentic as it gets.

Tasting Notes:

The aroma is filled with ripe fruits, sweet cereal, and piney hops. Drinking this beer will reveal bold malts, Noble hops, freshly baked bread, and citrus zest. The finish is clean, dry, and (no surprise here!) refreshing.

Bottom Line:

Located in St. Louis, Schlafly might find itself in the shadow of a well-known macro-brewery, but we implore you to grab a six-pack of this Kölsch next time you’re in the beer section at your local grocery store — it’s a winner.

Three Weavers Seafarer

Three Weavers

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $7 for a 22-ounce bottle

The Beer:

This traditional Köln-style Kölsch was first introduced in 2014. Its inspiration is the classic, crisp, floral brews of Germany. It recreates this iconic style with the addition of German pilsner malts and Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes:

Before taking a sip, bask in the scents of green apples, biscuity malts, fresh grass, and lime curd. On the palate, you’ll be greeted with a subtle nutty sweetness paired with floral hops and lemon zest. The end is light, subtly tangy, and ends with a nice kick of bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

Fire up the grill, throw on some sausages (or hot dogs if you prefer), and pair them with this classic German-style Kölsch.

Almanac True Kölsch

Almanac

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $13.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Almanac’s True Kölsch lives up to its name. When you crack open a can, you’ll be transported to the German countryside where you’ll hear the sound of accordion music and smell the rich smoke from grilled sausage. Its thirst-quenching, light, and way too easy to drink.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find bready malts, bright citrus zest, caramel notes, and sweet corn. On the palate, you’ll get hints of citrus zest, floral hops, subtle pepper, and sweet yeast. The finish is dry and refreshing with a nice hit of spicy hops.

Bottom Line:

On the next nice day, grab a comfortable chair, find a warm spot in the spring sun, crack open a True Kölsch and slowly sip it, forgetting about the stresses of your daily life for a few brief moments.

Prost Kölsch

Prost

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

You know if you’re buying a beer from Prost, it’s going to be as authentic as possible. Its Kölsch was created to pay tribute to the classic style. It’s fruity, dry, and utterly refreshing. That’s why Prost is able to refer to it as a “Kölns Classic Ale”.

Tasting Notes:

Nose this beer and you’ll be met with scents of lemon zest, tropical fruits, freshly baked bread, and floral hops. On the sip, you’ll find orange peels, rich malts, sweet cereal, and spicy hops. It all ends in a crescendo of pleasingly bitter hops and sweet malts.

Bottom Line:

Hoist a pint of this classic beer and let out a guttural “Prost!” or whatever exclamation you like to toast to. Trust us, you’ll be that excited after taking a sip of this thirst-quencher.

Fort Point KSA

Fort Point

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

If you didn’t guess it already, KSA stands for Kölsch Style Ale. While many of the beers on this list pride themselves in using only authentic German ingredients, KSA is the meeting between the European country and America. That’s because Fort Point uses American hops paired with German malts to create a transatlantic beer experience.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of wet hay, tart grapes, and citrus peels. The palate offers up tropical fruits, sweet wheat, sourdough bread, and floral hops. The finish is a great combination of rich malts and crisp, bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

Since this is a mashup of America and Germany, we suggest pairing this with classic, grilled red hots instead of bratwursts.

Boulevard American Kölsch

Boulevard

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This sessionable golden ale is brewed with European pilsner malts and malted wheat as well as Magnum hops. The flavor is ramped up with end-of-boil additions of Saphir, Saaz, and Tradition hops. The result is a full-flavored, complex beer that hits the spot on a warm, hazy spring day.

Tasting Notes:

Breathe in the aromas of freshly baked bread, caramel sweetness, and subtle herbs. Take a sip and you’ll be transported to a world of clover honey, rich malts, citrus zest, and piney, resinous hops. The finish is light, smooth, and perfectly hoppy.

Bottom Line:

This is the kind of crushable, hop-filled beer that’s bold enough for the early days of spring but bright and vibrant enough for the humid days of summer.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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