What to Wear ? (Part 3)

Part 1 and 2 of this series highlighted beers that I brewed for an upcoming beer tasting.  The first two beers were a Russian Imperial Stout and a Saison, both good styles for tasting as they have distinct and robust flavors that will stand out after one has sampled other beers.  I decided to make a third beer just in case one of the first two did not turn out as expected (and who knows I might just take all three to the tasting).  My choice for the third beer was a Kölsch. This style is much more mild in flavor than the other two, but I had just brewed one earlier in the summer and it turned out to be exceptionally good, so I thought it was worth presenting.

The BJCP style descriptor says a Kolsch should have “soft, rounded palate comprising of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight pucker in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste)”. Descriptions such a that really put me off because I do not think the words convey much at all about the flavor. While many who try a Kolsch simply write it off as another light flavored lager, I feel it has a subtle and  distinct flavor that is difficult to describe.  For me it is the flavor of a white Italian bread crust, rich with the flavor of grain but not heavy with bread notes. It has a slight sweetness that adds to the pleasantness of the beer.  Much like riding a bike, once you taste it you cannot forget it.  I have been fortunate that business has taken me to Köln on more than one occasion and I have had the chance to sample Früh, Sion, Gilden and Dom Kölsches (and maybe a few others I forgot). Köln is a wonderful place to visit, go there if you can.

The Big K II

Grains Amount Percent
Pilsener Malt (Weyermann) 3.68 kg 92%
Light Wheat Malt 0.20 kg 5%
Acidulated Malt 0.12 kg 3%
Hops Amount Boil Time IBUs
German Tradition (6.5% AA) 25 g 60 min 18
German Tradition (6.5% AA) 8 g 10 min 2
Original Gravity 12.2º P (1.049)
Final Gravity 1.3º P (1.013)
Apparent Attenuation 73%
Estimated ABV 4.6%

I mashed in at 66 °C but the mash settled to 63 °C at thirty minutes.  I raised it back up with the heat stick and let the mash go for one hour total before raising the temperature to 70 °C and mashing out.  I added calcium chloride, epsom salt, and baking soda to the mash, but only such that the final count was 80 ppm calcium, 44 ppm sodium, 115 ppm chloride and 89 ppm sulfate.

The yeast selected was Wyeast 2565, Kölsch.  Selecting the correct yeast is critical to achieving the correct flavor profile, and based on my effort with this style earlier in the summer this yeast delivers the goods.  I made a one liter starter from a very fresh pack of yeast and ended up with about 100 ml of slurry, which I estimate is about 200 billion cells.  Based on what I know about yeast that is a good number for a 19 liters (5 gallon) of 12 plato beer.  I cooled the wort to 16 °C before pitching and let the temp rise to 18 °C for the commencement of fermentation.  I raised the temperature 0.5 °C per day until it reached 20 °C.  I I further allowed it to rise to 22  °C to assure good diacetyl clean up.  Post fermentation it went into a fridge at 5 °C for some cold aging.  ideally this would age for 4 to 6 weeks, but it will only have 3 weeks before the tasting.  Hopefully it will be OK.

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