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Colorado’s Best Kölsch Blind Tasting Presented by On Tap Credit Union

Colorado Kölsch Blind Tasting
Brian Phipps

Warmer days are rolling in and one of the best beers to pair with the sunshine is a good ol’ Kölsch! Thus, it was the perfect time to conduct the latest blind tasting to find some of the best Kölsch style beers made by breweries in Colorado.

In classification, the Beer Judge Certification Program describes the Kölsch style as “a clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas. Subdued maltiness throughout leads to a pleasantly refreshing tang in the finish.” Additionally, Kölsch is usually served in a tall, skinny glass.

Furthermore, many breweries offer Kölsch service. This is where Kölsch is served in a seven-ounce glass and servers come to the drinker’s table. Servers are always ready to bring a new Kölsch so the beer is never warm. Each time a new glass is delivered, the server marks on a coaster for each glass of Kölsch served. Some breweries currently offer Kölsch service year-round while many breweries will switch to this service around Oktoberfest.

Now, a fun fact about Kölsch is that it is classified as an Ale, not a Lager despite its strong similarities to lagers. This is due to the type of top-fermenting ale yeast used. However, it is then cooled and conditioned like a Lager.

PorchDrinking’s Blind Tasting Series is proudly presented by On Tap Credit Union, providing banking solutions for Colorado, breweries, and beer lovers alike.

Objective & Method of the Kölsch Blind Tasting

Since October 2021, PorchDrinking’s Blind Tasting series has been designed to find the best beers of a style made by Colorado breweries. By making the tasting blind, judges are removed from their preconceived notions and biases of each brewery. Furthermore, they are not affected by any marketing. Every brewery in Colorado is eligible to submit and over 250 were invited. Altogether, 21 submissions were received.

Format

Round 1

To find the best Kölsch in Colorado, the Blind Tasting consisted of three rounds.

To start, the first round was the most intense. The eight judges were split into two groups of four people. One group tried 11 of the beers while the other group tasted the remaining 10. The judges rated each beer on appearance, aroma, taste, and overall. Also, the judges voted yes or no on whether a beer should be elevated to the second round. Beers were eligible to advance if a beer received 75 percent of yes votes or if the beer achieved a total rating that was greater than one standard deviation from their group’s mean rating score.

From the first round, five of the 21 beers advanced. All of these beers achieved at least an Honorable Mention award.

Round 2

In the second round, judges tried all five beers together. Again, judges were asked yes or no on whether a beer should continue to the final round. To advance, a beer needed to obtain a 50 percent yes vote.

As a result, three of the five beers moved on to the final round. These beers were awarded at least Top Marks awards.

Round 3

For the final round, the judges tried all the Kölsch finalists at the same time. Then, the judges debated aloud on which beer(s) should win Best In Show.

In the end, one Kölsch stood out amongst the rest to take the Best In Show award.

Judges

  • Shawnee Adelson, Executive Director for the Colorado Brewers Guild
  • Britt Antley, PorchDrinking Colorado Co-Editor
  • Ali Benetka, Integration Consultant at Doozy Solutions
  • Tristan Chan, PorchDrinking Founder
  • Scott Grossman, PorchDrinking Writer
  • Liam O’Beirne, “Colorado Brewery Master” for visiting every brewery in Colorado
  • Ryan Pachmayer, Beer Journalist at Westword & Marketing Director at New Image Brewing
  • Dave Sorenson, Developer for Colorado Brewery List and “Colorado Brewery Master” for visiting every brewery in Colorado

Results: PorchDrinking’s Colorado Kölsch Blind Tasting

Honorable Mentions

Colorado Kölsch Blind Tasting
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

Top Marks

Colorado Kölsch Blind Tasting Top Marks
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

The first Top Marks award went to Großen Bart Brewery for their Stubble Kölsch.  For this Blind Tasting, here are a few of the comments the PorchDrinking judges shared:

  • Clear and pretty, well-structured head that lasts.
  • Slight citrus hops and a clean malt, it’s inviting and on point.
  • It’s a very good beer. Fresh, it has a little hop component without being overdone, it jumps off and on the palate well.

Overall, this marks the fourth time Großen Bart Brewery has received an award in our Blind Tasting series. Previously, Großen Bart earned an Honorable Mention for its Handle Barley, a Wheat Wine, in our Barleywine Blind Tasting. Most notably, Großen Bart earned Best In Show for both its GB’s Perfect Pils in the Pilsners Blind Tasting and its Friendly Mutton Chop in the Märzens Blind Tasting.

The Longmont brewery’s Stubble Kölsch has received awards from other competitions: a bronze medal in the 2017 World Beer Championships and silver in both the 2019 and 2022 Denver International Beer competitions.

Matching Großen Bart is Joyride Brewing’s Ice Cutter Kölsch. This beer won several awards in the past couple of years including gold at the 2022 World Beer Cup®, silver at 2019 Great American Beer Festival and bronze at 2023 World Beer Cup®.

Here are a couple of the notes the PorchDrinking judges said about Ice Cutter Kölsch:

  • Golden and perfectly clear
  • Pretty traditional, with some noble hops and floral elements
  • Lightly grainy, clean finish, easy drinking. Tasty.

This is Joyride Brewing’s third time earning an award in our Blind Tasting competition. They previously earned Best In Show for their Nothing Without Providence in the Pale Ale Blind Tasting. They also scored an Honorable Mention in the Fresh Hop Blind Tasting for their Wet Hop Distilsner.

Best In Show

Beyond The Mountain (Boulder, CO) | Klaus’s Kölsch (5.3% ABV)

Colorado Kölsch Blind Tasting Best In Show Beyond The Mountain
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

Boulder’s own Beyond The Mountain Brewing Company took home the top prize in our Kölsch Blind Tasting. Here are some of the judges’ notes about this phenomenal beer:

  • Golden pale straw – very clear
  • Really well done, with great overall balance, very bright, and nice fruitiness.
  • Well balanced Kolsch. A little floral in the finish, but tasty and well-made.
  • I would drink this all summer long with no complaints.

This is Beyond The Mountain’s first time taking home an award in PorchDrinking’s Blind Tasting series. This Best In Show award is just another addition to the trophy case Klaus’s Kölsch has earned. Since 2019, Klaus’s Kölsch has been Beyond The Mountain’s highest-awarded beer scoring nine medals in state, national, and international competitions. Beyond The Mountain opened in 2017 and is located in the Northeast area of Boulder.

Be sure to check out some of the PorchDrinking team’s other favorite Kölsch from around the country.

Remaining PorchDrinking Blind Tasting 2024 Schedule

  • August 2024: West Coast Pilsners
  • November 2024: Dark Lagers

Previous PorchDrinking Blind Tasting Results


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