As we move to the new space in Milwaukie, we’ll be posting more often with exciting updates. For now, I’m going to take the opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite styles of beer, Kolsch, which happens to be my first recipe for Breakside.
Roughly described, Kolsch is a light bodied, pale golden, slightly fruity ale that is traditionally brewed in and around Cologne, Germany. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Cologne a few years ago, and we fell in love with the style. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really like the style until I visited its birthplace. We stayed for three days and were able to sample examples of the style from eight different breweries. The difference between them was astounding considering the simplicity of the ingredients. The most simple recipes are just Pilsner malt and a few German hops. Some incorporate a little malted wheat in the mash as well. Traditional German Noble hops, like Tettnanger and Hallertauer, are the only way to go with this beer. The hard thing about brewing this style is trusting in the subtle flavors of quality ingredients and keeping them balanced.
We brewed our Kolsch several weeks ago with a German yeast strain that we got from our friend Dave Marliave at Flat Tail Brewing in Corvallis; the beer fermented quickly and underwent a brief cold conditioning period. We started with imported Pilsner malt from Bamberg, Germany that all of us in the brewery love. We decided to incorporate a small addition of German malted wheat, as well as a touch of light caramel malt just to round out the body. We backed off of the bitterness and kept it around 16 IBUs which is fairly light (especially for Northwest IPA drinkers), but it is enough to keep the finish clean. For hop aroma, I added a touch of beautiful Tettnang hops from Germany. These hops will lend that classic hop aroma reminiscent of a German pilsener, but they are soft and restrained enough to let the malt shine.
As a fun side project, Ben decided to fill a neutral oak barrel with some of the actively fermenting Kolsch and then add some fun ingredients. He went by the PSU Farmer’s Market and picked up some amazingly sweet Sungold tomatoes, beautifully aromatic Genovese basil, and some sweet and tart Italian plums. He and Sam have released this beer before and called in Birra Minestra. They based it on a dessert they had at Park Kitchen, and the beer will be available for a limited time at both Breakside and PK.
I hope you all enjoy these beers, and I look forward to updating you with our progress and news.