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Kelsey explains Kölsch
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Eventide Brewing's Kolsch style ale. - photo by Nick Bowman

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the tradition of Kölsch beer stayed intact after the relentless bombings of Cologne, Germany, during World War II.

The Royal Air Force dropped 34,711 long tons (that’s a regular ton, plus a little extra) of bombs on the city under Nazi control, killing 20,000 people and destroying thousands of buildings, including breweries.

Kölsch Style Ale

Brewery: Eventide Brewing 

Alcohol by volume: 5.3%

International Bitterness Units: 24

Style: Kölsch 

Bottom line: A crisp and dry-finishing beer that pairs with just about anything

According to All About Beer Magazine, although the type of beer was made for centuries, Kölsch beer didn’t have a designated style until the late 19th century.

Despite most breweries being wiped out in Cologne after WWII, the locals held onto a piece of their pre-war identity by continuing the style.

In light of Oktoberfest, which is traditionally held from from the third weekend in September to the first Sunday of October, I thought I’d sprinkle in some German-style beer into the column for the next couple of weeks.

Kölsch beer is a popular and culturally rich brew that I couldn’t help but feature.

If you grab a Kölsch at one of your local breweries in Georgia, you’ll probably notice the label displays “Kölsch style” or “Kölsch inspired.” 

Like Champagne, Kölsch beer is protected by the European Union. This means that to be called Kölsch, a beer must be brewed within the city limits of Cologne — also known as Köln in Germany — or made in an officially recognized brewery close to the city. 

Kölsch is brewed in compliance with the 1516 German Beer Purity Law, only containing barley, hops, water and yeast. 

The beer is known as a hybrid because it combines two elements of popular brewing styles — lager and ale. 

Instead of using a lager strain of yeast, an ale strain is used. Unlike the bottom-fermenting lager yeast, ale yeast works from the surface of the liquid, moving downward. 

After fermentation the beer is treated like a lager through cold conditioning. This is the process of chilling the beer for a couple of days or as long as weeks. 

The result: an easy drinking, slightly hoppy beer that’s light in color and maltiness. 

Browsing my usual spot for picking up craft beer, I happened upon Eventide Brewing’s Kölsch Style Ale. 

Full disclosure: I’m no expert on Kölsch beer, nor have I traveled to Cologne to try the beer in its full glory. I’ve only ever had Kölsch-style beer brewed in the U.S.

I went into this tasting experience without any preconceived notions about the traditional flavors beyond what I had read in articles and experienced from Kölsch-inspired beer.

I popped open the can and got a whiff of subtle lemon and floral notes. When I tasted the beer, I didn’t detect any of the flavors, instead I tasted light malty notes with a tiny bite of hops on the end. 

Unlike most Kölsch beer, which are typically clear, Eventide’s brew offers a little haze because it’s unfiltered. 

This is the type of beer that pairs with just about anything. And because it’s one of Eventide’s core brews, you shouldn’t have any difficulty getting your hands on it. 

Eventide Brewing is located at 1015 Grant St. SE in Atlanta. For more information about the brewery, check out