I kind of figured that the first beer from Tallgrass Brewing Co. we would write about would be their flagship Ale. Thanks to the 107 degree high today being “Köld” was all we could think about.
Köld (5.0% ABV, 16 IBU) is a Kölsch style lager. Note that it’s a “Kölsch style” rather than a “Kölsch.” To be a Kölsch it would have to both follow the Kölsch-Konvention (an agreement about just what exactly a Kölsch is made by the Cologne Brewery Association) and be made in Cologne, Germany (just like sparkling wine isn’t Champagne unless it’s from France and Whiskey is not Scotch unless it’s from Scotland). Kölsch style beers are top fermented at a relatively warm temperature for a lager and then cold conditioned (i.e. lagered).
I remember when Köld first came out I was not a big fan. To me it was blah and just average (even though it won a couple of medals – silver and bronze I believe). The beer was a big seller but all I could think about was how similar it was to the standard “American lagers.” All of that changed as I continued to volunteer on the tours and learn how this beer was made and once the recipe received a glorious change. That change was the addition of just a little extra hop kick at the end. That one change altered my perception about this beer.
Last summer there were two fine beers that I found to be an excellent summer offerings by Tallgrass. The first was their Wheat (R.I.P. 2010) and the second one was this very beer. This year Köld is the lightest in color and bitterness that Tallgrass has to offer. In a state that is obsessed with wheat ales and cheap mass consumed beer, Köld is a welcome change.
I found Köld to have a sweet sort of lemony smell. The pour produces a white semi-creamy head that disapates rather quickly and the color of the body is a straw/golden yellow. Upon tasting the beer I found it to also be sweet and lemony. The carbonation in this lager is higher than other Tallgrass beers due to this being a lager rather an ale which is usually more creamy feeling. The finish is really nice since the recipe change. There is a subtle hop bitterness that rounds the flavors off quite nicely. Overall, I think this beer is an excellent step for lover’s of mass produced beer into a larger world of craft beer.
I didn’t notice the citrusy aroma or flavor although the Tallgrass website agrees with Austin. To me it tastes clean, crisp (pardon the trite beer talk), and sweet, but not in a cloying sort of way. There is just a little bit of hopping to even out the mild sweetness. The extra carbonation makes it even more refresing. I’m thinking this would be a great post-run beer, burger beer, or just it’s so freaking hot I can’t even consider drinking anything too high gravity, sweet, or hoppy kind of beer.
If this sounds interesting here are a couple of other Kölsch beers to try:
Free State Brewing Company also makes a Wheat Kölsch called Wheat State Golden
But start with Tallgrass since it’s readily available, good, and you’ll be supporting local beer (go you!).
It seems that Kölsch lagers are a trend this summer. I would recommend trying them before they become extreme beers (i.e. Double Kölsch, Triple Kölsch, Chili Kölsch, Lemon Pepper Kölsch, etc…you get the idea). When they happen you should try them too because I bet they would be awesome.
UPDATE: I apologize for this but I was recently informed that Köld is not a Kölsch style lager. It is instead a German Lager. I was uninformed on the change from Kölsch to German lager as the description until I spoke with Tallgrass Brewmaster Chris Aikens at the recent tour.