It’s not often I get to review a different style of beer here, but today we’re looking at the first alcohol-free Kolsch I’ve seen or tried. Kolsch is a style of beer that is native to the city of Cologne and it’s outlying area in western Germany, and was invented in the early 1900s. It’s essentially an ale-lager hybrid, fermented with a top-fermenting yeast in warm temperature, then stored like a lager in cold cellars to condition. Like most German beers it’s production methods are rigidly defined, and Kolsch has a PGI (protected geographical indication) in the EU that states the beer must be produced no less than 30 miles from Cologne for it to be labelled as such. The beer tends to be light and highly attenuated, resulting in a crisp thirst-quenching brew that is traditionally served in 200ml glasses, which are continuously refilled by workers in Cologne bars until the drinker places a beer mat on top of the receptacle.
Früh (Cölner Hofbräu Früh to give them their full name) was founded in 1904 by Peter Joseph Früh, at the beginning of the Kolsch explosion in Cologne. Initially located next to Cologne Cathedral, both buildings were heavily bombed during WW2 but were able to be rebuilt. In the 1980s a new brewery building was constructed in the outskirts of the city, and today over 400,000 hectolitres of beer flows from the brewer’s kettles every year.
Früh Kölsch 0.0% starts out as the brewer’s standard 4.8% ABV offering, and then the alcohol in the brew is gently removed after maturing. Looking at the ingredients of the beer, and knowing it’s been brewed to a very defined recipe, we should hopefully be getting an authentic version of the style, albeit in a slightly bigger serving size. Let’s get it in a glass and see.
The beer pours a light golden colour with good clarity, and is quite lively, producing a couple of fingers of soapy head as it hits the glass. On the nose we get pale lager malt, peppery spice, a touch of honey sweetness and a slight floral/citrus aroma of orange rind. It’s very clean and inviting.
On tasting we’re greeted with bready malt, toasty grains and a fruitiness with a slight sour edge to it. There’s a background bitterness to the drink and a crispness to it. The body remains light, veering into watery, but the carbonation is good and helps give a gentle foamy mouthfeel. We get a dry finish to the drink.
Kolsch is a style of beer that may take some getting used to if you’re used to drinking lager, but Früh Kölsch 0.0% is certainly a great introduction to the traditional ale. It can be thought of as similar to an ‘extra dry’ Japanese-style lager (check out Mash Gang’s Stoop Extra Dry for a great example of this), but there are more complex flavours going on here. Definitely one to try though!
Buy Früh Kölsch 0.0%
As Kolsch is a very German style of beer, and should only be produced near Cologne, it might be difficult to get any of Früh’s beers out in the wild in the UK. However, I’ve seen bottles of the full ABV version of Kölsch 0.0% available in Morrisons, and you can always buy it online:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Additional nutritional information not given. Boo, hiss!
|Water, Barley Malt, Hops
|Country of Production
|Cölner Hofbräu Früh – http://frueh.de/
Früh Kölsch 0.0% Alcohol Free Review
Crisp and refreshing, though may not be the style for everyone, and might confuse the pilsner drinkers.