24 Beers of Christmas – December 22nd Lost Craft Revivale
An Ontario Kölsch-style Ale that actually tastes Kölschlike! It’s hard to imagine an Ottawa beer drinker that hasn’t tried Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale by now. It’s brewed as a tribute to Cologne’s famous beer style, Kölsch, which is a light-bodied ale with a nice grain backbone and characteristically fruity yeast notes. The term Kölsch means to belong to the City of Cologne, which in Germany is spelled “Köln”. Kölsch is regionally protected in Germany, much like wine in France, meaning the name is reserved solely for beers produced in the vicinity of Cologne. For that reason, Beau’s chose to label their beer a lagered ale as opposed to a Kölsch, whereas other breweries may use the terminology “Kölsch-style”.
For a long time Lug Tread was one of the few examples of the style you could find in Ontario. It was a long time before a real Kölsch became available through the LCBO, though nowadays you can find Gaffel, one of Cologne’s most famous brands, with ease. Over the past few years, more and more Ontario breweries began releasing Kölsch-es of their own. There have been some fantastic representations, such as Sawdust City’s Gateway Kölsch and Brown Van Kölsch. However, there are also an ever increasing number of pretenders who are using the moniker as a marketing tool, but producing beers that share precious little in common with their true namesake. Among the most notably offenders we have Junction’s Tracklayer Kölsch, which boasts an IBU way beyond the acceptable range of the style and nearly double that of many other examples, Cowbell Brewing’s Absent Landlord “Country” Kölsch, which is in the right range for bitterness, but misses across the entire flavour spectrum and finally Muskoka Brewery’s Kirby’s Kölsch, which is actually quite enjoyable, but again, takes some series liberties with their interpretation.
The trouble is that Kölsch has become synonymous less with the output, but more with the technique. Cold conditioning a beer with a top fermenting yeast (lagering an ale) will only affect certain aspects of a beer’s profile and you could realistically create a number of sub categories of Lagered Ales, Kölsch being one of them, which could each demonstrate unique qualities. The key is in differentiating a Lagered Ale from a Kölsch-style beer.
Luckily, Lost Craft have gotten it right with Revivale. It’s a refreshing change of pace, for a time of the year stereotypically associated with beers that are big and dark. Crisp and clean with the right measure of cereal grains, lightly fruity and balanced with herbal, spicy and very mild floral hop notes.
Style: Kölsch-Style Ale – 4.8% ABV, 19 IBU
Food pairings: Currywurst, Manchego, Dried Apricots