Only one German kolsch in top 50

Just had Suarez Family line and was wondering about how many top 50 kolschs I had. So I looked it up and haven’t had many, but whatever. The real point I was surprised at here was that only one kolsch in our top 50 is German, as far as I can tell:

Is this just indicative of a RB bias or are kolschs in the Americas really that much better? Probably a controversial subject for the good residents of Cologne…


Embarrassingly of my 45 rates from this style only one is from Germany (Gaffel). Although my tops is from Connecticut but part of zymatore project and was original German ([Reissdorf Kolsch Zymatore - Pazzo Barrel

No.2 is a 7.5% beer “dosed heavily with Nelson Sauvin”, with rye, dextrin malt and dextrose.

I think that says it all.


File under IPL along with many others … see also pilsener

“Double dry hopped Kölsch. Herzog’s hopped-up big brother. Megaherz might be brewed using wheat, pilsner malts and Kölsch yeast but this Imperial Kölsch truly defies tradition. An intense double dry-hopping, using Citra, Mosaic and Ekuanot hops, gives this beer subtle notes of peach and pear whilst remaining suitably dank!”


Alright, I went through the top 50, retired some and changed the styles on some coffee, tea and fruit flavored ones. One other Köln Kölsch (Braustelle Helios) popped up.

And, honestly, the “India pale kölsch” “kölsch-inspired” beers, apart from the top 2, aren’t that prevalent. Maybe a third at best, and I might be overexaggerating. Most seem to be more or less honest takes at the base style, largely brewed in US and Canada.

What could cause that? Well, Kölsch is delicate as fuck. Not all Köln Kölsches are that good perhaps - and some don’t travel well, and when a lot of ratings for those will be for old bottles/cans/whatever, you can’t expect a high score.

Also, Kölsch is by default a much more bland style than most (nearly all) - any tweak towards the modern, if made fairly well, will be seen by the modern palate as “more interesting” and even “better” - while, ofc, most traditional ones just wouldn’t do that, limiting themselves to a very strict definition of the style.

Another aspect might be the inherently more generous ratings (won’t say just of local beers) by the American raters than the European ones. Also, same as for lager styles (like CZ pilsners), a kölsch take that may be middling in the traditional sense may seem world class if there’s no reference and/or the competition is worse. For example, many times I’ve heard that an extremely highly scored US pils is “almost as good as Pilsner Urquell”, and very few beer geek locals would say that PU is the best CZ pils in CZ (apart from the cellar version) - those that are better, however, end up scoring less - less generous locals (or Euro raters), less ratings, tourists running into a slightly sub par batch and 200 other possibilities.

There’s many potential variables that result in this.


Another factor is, and I haven’t verified this but assume it to be true, is that there are many, many more American/Canadian attempts at a Kölsch than there are German ones. Presumably, the German ones are mostly limited to the region and each brewery produces its one legacy example.

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Looking at my own ratings, only six of my 109 kolsches are actually German, and funnily enough I didn’t have a single kolsch was I was rolling around in Berlin a few years back. Perhaps not even that popular in Germany outside of Cologne?

My own favorite German kolsch apparently is this one:

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Also, with some styles like Kolsch, it should almost be a matter of course to kick out the top beers if their ratings get too high… I mean come on, is it really a kolsch? :rofl:

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Yeah, Germany’s usually very regional when it comes to beer - also, they cannot call it Kölsch if it’s made outside of Köln - but I know of at least one case where a brewery’s Helles (in this case indicating just the color) is their take on the style (confirmed by the brewer).

My top rated Köln Kölsch, as I’ve never been to Köln is Sion - which I’ve found on tap in the middle of Berlin (Alex on Alexanderplatz) at 3.1 - and noted I kinda liked it, but I was in a stricter phase probably. I’ve rated all others which I’ve had in bottles / ?cans? under 3, so they probably don’t travel and keep well.

Czech Republic could have had the No. 1 Kölsch in the world, had I not put it where it should actually belong. :smiley:

Haha, ya. DDH kolsch…

Actually I’ve had Sion too, didn’t realize it was German. On tap at a German rooftop bar here in DC. So I’ve had 7 German kolsches.

most points have been said already: Kölsch is extremely delicate, most Kölschs aren’t very good to begin with, and even the good ones you only want to drink fresh and locally.

But also, most American Kölschs are not Kölschs, even if you don’t account for the fact that they’re not from Cologne or brewing Kölsch before Kölsch became protected in the EU.


Just visited Köln a couple of weeks ago. IMHO kölsch is just glorified pale lager (with slight fruity aspect). There were a couple I enjoyed a lot, but I think I would enjoy regular pale lager as much if it was fresh (and served from gravity cask for example).

Merge the bastards!

That’s exactly the bare truth. Kölsch (brewed in the Köln area) is a very delicate style and should be enjoyed locally. A Päffgen served fresh from the wooden barrel at the brewery-tap or at Lommerzheim is a pure pleasure, a mass-market beer of the same style from a bottle is more or less a liquid sleeping-pill…


Päffgen from a cask was definitely one of the better ones, although I enjoyed Sünner even more (on the spot of course, at the biergarten next to the brewery).

World Beer Cup Gold for Kölsch went to Joyride Brewing in Edgewater Colorado.

Seems it has improved:

Or like many of those festivals, it was the only brewery that entered something in the category