Cologne, Germany has made two major contributions to American culture as far as I’m aware: 1) encouraging men to smell like chemicals, and 2) developing one of the finest beer styles out there, the Kolsch.
Pilsners and light lagers have enjoyed a monopoly on summer beer drinking for, well, centuries. But with the help of Pleasantville, NY's Captain Lawrence, Brooklyn is lousy with Kolsch this summer. The style is the perfect compromise between big beers and bland beers, between IPAs and PBR. They’re super light but with a complex fruity, bitter interplay that really gets geeks riled up. Kolschs are also unique in that they exist in the nexus between ales and lagers—they’re brewed, like all ales, with “top-fermenting” yeast but cold-aged (or “lagered”) like a lager.
It’s incredibly difficult to successfully reproduce these classic German beer styles. Something about yeast strains, and possibly the water. But CL has managed a worthy interpretation with their Captain’s Kolsch.
Like the originals—namely Gaffel and Reissdorf—the straw-toned beer has a light, fruity backbone with a clean bitter balance. It’s immensely refreshing on a sweat-stained day and lucky for us, is showing up at bars across Brooklyn. This week alone, and because I never seem to leave Carroll Gardens, I sipped Captain’s Kolsch at Bar Great Harry, Abilene and Local 61. Six-packs run $12.50 at Bierkraft, and for a broad sampling of the style, try either Loreley location, a Cologne-inspired beer bar that’s been pushing Kolsch since long before the rest of us caught on.