|Weiser von Kölsch beer|
from Nomads Brewing:
Brewed with sage spice.
The Nomads brewing duo of Yonah Rubin and Jacob Mogerman have brought out their second beer -- Weiser von Kölsch. It's brewed at the Good Stuff Brewery (AKA Buster's and Oak & Ash) in Beit Shemesh. Weiser von Kölsch is a Kölsch-style beer, but brewed with sage.
[Read about the Nomads and their first specialty beer brewed with za'atar, Saison de Zion, here.]
Kölsch beer calls for a little historical background, but I'll try to keep it short. Its origins are in the German city of Cologne (Köln in German), going back to the 17th century. In fact, in Europe you can only call the beer Kölsch if it's brewed in Cologne (and a few other neighboring towns and villages). In other countries, brewers can, and do, call any beer they want Kölsch.
Authentic Kölsch adheres to strict guidelines. It should be brewed with German malts, Noble hops and usually German ale yeast. We're aiming for a clear (filtered) golden color, aromas of bready malt, a little fruity with hops in the background. The flavor should be clean, fresh malt with only a hint of the hops, finishing dry and slightly bitter. Alcohol by volume shouldn't be over 5.2%, and the bitterness low to medium (not over 30 IBUs). Sounds easy, right? But try to achieve it.
One more thing: Kölsch is fermented with ale yeast (top-fermenting), yet conditioned in cold temperatures like a lager -- making it kind of a hybrid.
|Nomads partner Yonah Rubin personally |
delivered bottles of Weiser von Kölsch
to the old blogger.
Getting back to Weiser von Kölsch, Nomad partner Yonah Rubin was kind enough to bring me a few bottles during a break in the lockdowns. Yonah works at the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat and keeps a very busy schedule.
Right off the bat, he warned me that he and Jacob had "taken some liberties" with the style. "We chose Kölsch to challenge ourselves," he said. "It's a style that gives you very little room to hide. Yet we believe that with today's brewing tech, we can control the reactions better than they could when they laid down the rues for Kölsch. So why not use the tech to produce a better beer?"
The Nomads used the requisite German hops (90% Pilsner plus a little Carapils and Vienna), but they thought the style was right for using sage instead of aromatic hops. Alcohol by volume is 4.6%.
|In Köln, Kölsch is traditionally drunk in|
a small (200 milliliters), tall thin glass
called a "stange."
I tasted Weiser von Kölsch with my drinking partner Moshe. Since neither of us has drunk authentic Kölsch in Köln, we had only the style guidelines and our own taste buds to advise us. The beer pours out a very clear color of pale hay, very lightly carbonated. "One of the clearest beers I've seen," Moshe remarked. In the aroma, there was the bready malt, unmistakable, but stronger still was the sage, with a little fruit (perhaps melon) in there too. The flavor was more sage, lemon, and herbal. As the beer warmed up, the malt flavor grew and balanced out the sage.
Bottom line: We were both impressed with the beer and how very well sage works as an additive. Its aroma and flavor blends deliciously with the malt base of the beer. The drink is light and refreshing and would pair well with any sage-friendly food: pastas, pizza, hummus, hearty salads.
But . . . it's not the Kölsch style we had heard about, nor what others who knew Kölsch were expecting. Weiser von Kölsch is a good Israeli beer brewed with good local sage, and it doesn't have to be anything else.