Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Kolsch-style beers are perfect for spring, and these are our favorites

Perfect for spring, this beer style is known for its hoppy, criso flavor.

Close-up of beer in a glass
YesMore Content / Unsplash

If you’ve never heard a Kölsch before, what are you waiting for? Not only is this beer style great any time of year, but it’s also particularly fantastic during the spring months. Made with top-fermenting yeast like an ale before being conditioned at cold temperatures like a lager, this hoppy, crisp beer has its origins in Cologne, Germany. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Kölsch is more than a name

craft beer
Josh Olalde / Unsplash

Kölsch is similar to Cognac, Scotch, or Tequila in that, as of 1997, it has a protected geographical indication. Just like those other forms of alcohol that have specific geographic parameters, technically, Kölsch must be brewed within 31 miles of the city of Cologne. This hasn’t stopped American brewers from trying their hand at this fresh, crisp style. While some don’t pay close attention to the rules and call their beers Kölsch, others pay tribute to Germany by calling their brews Kölsch-style beers.

What does Kölsch taste like?

Beer glass
BENCE BOROS/Unsplash

Traditionally brewed using the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot), this beer style is known for its filtered appearance and hoppy aroma and flavor. This mashup of a lager and ale is also known for its clean, fruity, gently spicy flavor, finished with floral, lightly bitter Noble hops. It’s the perfect, refreshing, thirst-quenching beer for a warm spring day or a hot summer night. It also pairs well with grilled meats and sunny day yard games.

Our favorite five Kölsch-style beers

Beer with chips
Gerrie van der Walt / Unsplash

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about Kölsch beers and their history, it’s time to actually drink some. To help you on your Kölsch journey, we picked five of our favorites and ranked them based on flavor and overal seasonal appropriateness. Keep scrolling to see them all.

5.) Rogue Honey Kölsch

Rogue Honey Kölsch
Rogue

This isn’t your average Kölsch. Rogue Honey Kölsch gets its name because it’s brewed with wildflower honey. The result is a classic Kölsch base of sweet, bready malts and floral, earthy hops that are elevated by the addition of honey sweetness. The result is a complex, refreshing, sweet, crisp beer well-suited for spring sipping. While you’ll likely enjoy a few beers on this list, you should try this unique brew.

4.) Reissdorf Kölsch

Reissdorf Kölsch
Reissdorf

No Kölsch list is complete without an actual beer brewed in Cologne. One of the best is Kölsch. Brewed since 1894, Reissdorf Kölsch is a sessionable top-fermented, cold lagered beer known for its refreshing, clean flavor profile featuring fruity, hoppy, lightly floral notes and a crisp, dry finish. It’s a classic take on the style and one that belongs in your Kölsch rotation this spring.

3.) Altstadt Kölsch

Altstadt Kölsch
Altstadt

If you didn’t know any better, you might assume this is another traditional Kölsch from Germany. Altstadt is actually a German-style brewery located in Fredericksburg, Texas. One of its best is its Altstadt Kölsch. This award-winning beer is known for its balance thanks to the use of top-fermenting yeast, select German malts, and Noble hops. The result is a sweet, malty, refreshing beer with just a hint of floral, earthy, lightly bitter hops at the finish.

2.) Prost Kölsch

Prost Kölsch
Prost

With a name like Prost, you better believe this brewery is pretty good at crafting authentic German-style beers. One of our favorites for spring sipping is its Prost Kölsch. Brewed with Weyermann Premium Pilsner mat, Weyermann Cologne, and a German hybrid ale yeast, it gets its hope element from the addition of Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Callista hops. This results in a crisp, crushable, thirst-quenching beer with notes of sweet malts, honey, orchard fruits, and floral hops.

1.) Fair State KÖLD

Fair State KÖLD
Fair State

If you only drink one beer on this list, make Fair State KÖLD. This sessionable, 4.7% ABV Kölsch-style beer is brewed with Kölsch yeast, Carafoam, and North Star Pils malts. It gets its hop aroma and flavor from the liberal use of Sterling hops. This creates a year-round, clean, crisp, refreshing Kölsch known for its flavor profile of fruit esters, pilsner malts, orchard fruits, honey, and floral, earthy, herbal hops. The finish is dry, lightly hoppy, and bitter. This is the kind of beer you’ll want to drink in spring, summer, fall, and maybe even in winter if you’re feeling a little wild.

Bottom line

Beer
engin akyurt / Unsplash

If you’re a fan of a nice, malty lager, a crisp, refreshing pilsner, or even a floral pale ale or bitter IPA, you’ll love the clean, complex, thirst-quenching flavor of a well-made Kölsch-style beer. We could be as bold as to say that the Kölsch just might be the best spring beer there is.

This is because of the fact that it has all the qualities of an ale as well as a lager. It’s balanced, crisp, dry, and effortlessly flavorful. Instead of the summer of George, we suggest the spring of Kölsch.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
How to make a classic Manhattan (and several variations)
The right way to make this classic cocktail and more to try
A bartender stirs a cocktail in a mixing glass.

One of the world's most ubiquitous cocktails, the Manhattan cocktail has been enjoyed by spiritous imbibers since it was made famous at the legendary Manhattan Club in New York City sometime around 1880. Even while falling in and out of fashion throughout the years, Manhattan has withstood the test of time to firmly cement itself as one of the great classic cocktails of all time.

As with many classic cocktails, the origin of the Manhattan drink recipe is murky at best. The most popular theory is that the drink was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall at a party for Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill, held at the Manhattan Club. Sounds plausible, but this story never happened. It was later verified that Lady Churchill was never partying it up in New York at that time as she was pregnant at home in England. What is for sure is that the Manhattan emerged on the scene in the 1880s. The earliest known mention of both the name and the Manhattan cocktail ingredients was in September 1882 in the Sunday Morning Herald in Olean, N.Y.

Read more
Learn how to make perfect grill marks every time
Perfect grill marks are shockingly easy to achieve with these easy tips
Steak on the grill

Let's be honest — when it comes to grilling, a lot of the fun is in the show. It just wouldn't be a proper backyard barbecue without all the hubbub that comes once that grill is ignited. The sounds, the smells, the caveperson astonishment and pride when it comes to all things fire-related. The whole thing is rather dramatic. And part of putting on a good show is, of course, a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy, beautifully charred, and cross-hatched piece of meat. Be it a steak, pork chop, burger, or eggplant, no grilled entree is complete without the cosmetic upgrade of gorgeous grill marks.

Chances are, though, if you've ever attempted these beautifully blackened lines in your backyard, you know just how tricky they can be. So you may have just tossed in the tongs and forgotten the whole thing. And who could blame you? The truth is that grill marks don't make a huge difference in flavor. With all the cooking methods, tricks, and techniques used today, the technique of how to make grill marks is actually something of a lost art. But damn, they're sexy. And if you can get them just right, you'll be sure to impress your guests at your next cookout. So we're here to help with a few tips and tricks for how to get those perfect steak grill marks and make your barbecue show one worth watching.
How to make perfect grill marks

Read more
The best cheese for burgers: Our top 7 favorites
Blue cheese? On a burger? Trust us, it's delicious.
Cheeseburger

Unless you're an insane person (or avoid dairy for dietary or ethical reasons—you get a pass), you turn your hamburgers into cheeseburgers. Cheese truly does make everything better, and burgers are perhaps the best example of this. But which cheeses should you select when it comes time to light the grill and crack open some cold ones? We've got the answers.
Cheddar

Ah, classic cheddar. This trusty staple is certainly the most popular cheese for most backyard burgers. And while cheddar may be the typical choice, it's far from mundane. This hard cheese has a crumbly texture, an easily melty consistency, and a slightly tangy, nutty flavor that works beautifully on a burger.
Monterey and Pepper Jack

Read more