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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - The Summer of Kölsch

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Happy Summer! The height of the beer drinking season is upon us, and lucky for all of us tasty beer drinkers out there, 2017 is shaping up to be the Summer of Kölsch!

What is Kölsch, you ask? Technically speaking, Kölsch is a style of beer first popularized in Cologne, Germany around the turn of the 20th century. It is a pale, golden ale that is fermented with a top-fermenting ale yeast, but conditioned cold like a lager. The resulting beer is clear, crisp and light in flavor with a very mild bitterness and a refreshing finish.

In short, Kölsch may very well be the absolute best beer for Summer drinking. It is just that good.

Now, to get the true Kölsch experience, one would have to spend the money and take the time to travel to the Rhineland of Germany - Cologne especially - and visit one of the many breweries that specialize in this style. Or maybe you could pop into one of the many Kölschkneipen, or Kölsch Pubs, in the city and partake in a few rounds. It doesn’t particularly matter which pub or brewery you visit, because thanks in part to the organized nature of the Germans and their Kölsch Konvention of 1986, there are strict rules on what can be called a Kölsch.

Kölsch beers are traditionally served in a tall, thin-walled glass called a Stange (or a Kölschstangen in German). These can range in size from 200ml to 400ml, but the standard in Cologne is the 200ml stange. That might seem like a tiny beer, and to be honest, it is. The trick to a Kölsch drinking session is drinking from a smaller glass so the beer is always cold and fizzy. Servers in the Kölschkneipen walk around with round trays filled with Kölschstangen loaded up with fresh Kölsch, so there is always another beer waiting for you when you finish the one in hand.

I’m sorry, what was that? I seem to have gotten lost in this sea of umlauts and couldn't hear you protesting that you have neither the time or the money to travel to Germany right now. OK, fair enough, I still have good news for you. You can find fresh, Maine-Made Kölsch-style ales at your local beer purveyor! Some standout local versions of this traditional style are Orono Brewing Company’s A-OK Kölsch, Marshall Wharf’s Umlaut Kölsch, and (full disclosure and such, etc…) Gneiss Brewing Company’s Sonnenschein Kölsch. I’m not sure on the retail availability of the Orono and Marshall Wharf versions, but I know Sonnenschein is available in 16.9 oz bottles all summer long!

So put down the hazy IPAs, the fussy lagers and all that “summer ale” junk and grab a tasty refreshing Kölsch!

PS: Got up to 21 umlauts – it’s a new personal best!

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