My first experience trying a Kolsch Style beer was one I think I’ll always remember. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a Kolsch was soon going to turn into one of my favorite beer styles.
There was something about this beer that I found a bit unusual. I really couldn’t place it, but it had a very interesting taste (in a good way). I didn’t think much about it, and as I was just getting started into homebrewing, I made a mental note to add this to my future brew list.
Fast forward to today, as I’m sipping on my latest Kolsch, and I think I found the secret. It’s Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast. ö
What Exactly Is A Kolsch?
Technically speaking, a Kolsch can only be brewed within 30 miles of the Köln region in Germany. Anything outside of that is considered a Kolsch style.
With that said, I’m drinking a Kolsch, brewed here in Michigan by my very own hands. Who needs the Kolsch Konvention.
Per the BJCP Guidelines, a Kolsch is:
A clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas. Subdued maltiness throughout leads to a pleasantly refreshing tang in the finish.
What I like in a Kolsch is the very subtle fruit aroma, and the slight winy (grape) taste that the yeast can impart on the beer. While this isn’t a requirement of a Kolsch, it is something that can be found in a Kolsch style.
As I mentioned above, Wyeast 2565 is now my go to yeast strain for a Kolsch. It imparts those subtle fruit notes and that winy character that I really dig.
With that said, not all Kolsch yeasts are created equal.
I’ve brewed a pervious version of a Kolsch using White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch yeast. While the beer turned out very well, it was missing that fruity/winy taste I seem to enjoy. At the end of the day, it really wasn’t all that different from a Helles that I previously brewed. I would definitely use WLP029 in a German Ale, just not my future Kolsch’s (at least for now).
Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast on the other hand comes from a completely different brewery in Koln. That explains why the taste is a bit different from WLP029.
The choice is really yours to make. If you enjoy some subtle fruit like flavor in your Kolsch, go with Wyeast 2565. If you are looking for a very clean, ester free Kolsch, you might like WLP029 a bit better.
One of the things that made me a bit nervous about using Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast, is all the noise about how it takes forever to clear. This is a very powdery yeast, a yeast that likes to stay in suspension for a bit. If you’ve read through the various forums, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Not to be swayed by the vast amount of brewers swearing off this yeast, I decided I’d see for myself just how much of a flocculation problem this yeast would cause.
The picture above was taken 4 days after kegging, or 18 days after brewing. While it may not be crystal clear, it’s pretty darn close. I really didn’t do anything a whole lot different from my normal process. After fermentation completed, I cold crashed this batch for 48 hours at about 38 degrees. I hit it with gelatin and let it sit another 48 hours at 38 degrees. After 4 days in the keg, I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to see how this batch turned out.
So don’t be deterred by all the noise on the forums related to clarity. You can easily clear this beer with cold crashing and gelatin in a few days rather then the 6+ weeks you’ll read about.
May The Kolsch Be With You (v2)
So why am I so enamored with Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast? The aroma and taste for starters. This yeast gives me exactly what I’m looking for in a Kolsch. It actually reminds me a bit of the Colorado Kolsch by Steamworks Brewing, although I’m not claiming my recipe to be a clone.
May the Kolsch Be With You is actually my second take on brewing a Kolsch. I’ve tweaked the grain bill to only include Pilsner malt with a touch of Wheat, and also changed up the yeast from WLP029 to Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast.
Unfortunately my makeshift fermentation chamber was put away while my basement was under construction, so I didn’t have much temperature control during fermentation.
So how did it come out?
Color/Clarity: Straw in color, perhaps almost golden, with nice clarity. Who says you can’t have a clear beer with Wyeast 2565!
Aroma: While some may call it grapy, I definitely get a subtle wine aroma, almost like a Chardonnay. Some mild spice from the Tettnang hops.
Taste: Crisp, refreshing, and tasty. It finishes with a nice malt taste, with zero bitterness. I can pick up some faint esters of fruit which gives it that very slight winy flavor I was looking for.
What about future tweaks to v3 of this recipe? I don’t think I’d change the grain bill at all, perhaps try a different maltster to experiment with other tastes, but I’d leave the Pilsner/Wheat ratio about the same. I’d up the sole hop charge a bit, but I’d stick with the Tettnang. I’ll continue using Wyeast 2565 Kolsch yeast (and play a bit more with fermentation temperatures).
Wyeast 2565 Kolsch Yeast
If you looking for something with a bit more then WLP029 German Ale/Kolsch provides, I would definitely recommend you trying Wyeast 2565.
Don’t be scarred off by the rumors of this yeast not clearing. It’s simply not true. Doing a simple cold crash and fining with gelatin does wonders in a very short period of time.
What experiences have you had using Wyeast 2565?