Brew Day: Return of the "Kolsch"

Brew Day: Return of the “Kolsch”

One of the beers we brewed for our wedding in April was a pretty straightforward, by-the-book Kolsch. Reaching capacity in our 5 gallon fermenter, we took the leftover and siphoned it into a gallon growler and added some leftover hops and a really old, dried up grapefruit (just the rind) sitting in our fruit bowl. We used just a bit of yeast that was clinging to the vial we used on the main batch. It sat on the counter in the corner and was largely forgotten.

When it came time to bottle the Kolsch, we bottled this little side project as well and became preoccupied with other things. You know, like marriage and stuff. About 2 months later, we cracked it open during the Munich Dunkel brew day. It was very different from the main batch of Kolsch. Less effervescent and it had a more earthy, fruit funk to it, but we really enjoyed the result. At this point, I don’t know that you could call it a Kolsch, but we wanted to see if we could make it again as a large batch.

So I took the recipe and scaled it up, picked up the goods from Austin Homebrew Supply, and so began another brew day.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for those of you unfamiliar with this particular Texas food staple, I present to you: kolaches. Pastry with fruit (and also occasionally savory fillings) and oh-so delicious.

Kolaches and the makings for a @tinyhousebrew brew day #homebrew #texasdonuts #brewday #everythingsbetterintexas

Also, don’t forget about proper hydration!


Okay, let’s brew!

Since a month old grapefruit wasn’t available to us this time (poor planning on our part), we settled for a week-old version and dried the rinds in the oven.



Simple mash this time around, no fancy decoctions.


While we’re waiting, let’s open a mystery bottle. We believe this to be a bottle from our original recipe of the ESB. It was meh. Not a beer for the ages…or aging.


Well, we’ve got another hour of this…
…so I guess it’s time for a sammich. And more beer. As you may have surmised by now, we are very health-conscious individuals here at Tiny House.

Before we head to the garage, let’s not forget the obligatory Brew Day Dog Photo! They remind me of bouncers at a club or hard luck siblings from a past era. Maybe I should’ve sepia-toned it.


Check the Brew Book notes (writing things down is critical when you’re drinking all day).


Drink some more. We’ve earned it; we’re intelligent (or something).

Have some friends over while the wort’s chillin’ because brew days are better with friends!

The color on this batch is darker than the original and OG is also higher at 1.066. We’re also using a yeast starter and upping the yeast a bit, rather than directly pitching one vial like we did with the original. Added 3 oz of Spalt hops to the fermenter and some of the grapefruit rind. I think we’ll gradually increase the amount of grapefruit in there rather than dumping it all in at once.

Gave it a little more time in secondary (and more grapefruit) and it finished out at an FG of 1.014.

Post-bottling update from Matt – 7/9/13

As of right now, we’re not extremely hopeful for our just-bottled grapefruit kolsch, judging from the couple of bottles we cracked open yesterday. The first one was a bottle we took with us on our most recent trip to Whitney, which made it back to Tiny House without being sampled. That’s a 300-mile round trip, just banging around in an ice chest. Upon opening it, the first thing I smelled was butterscotch. This is not a good sign. It’s potentially a sign of bacterial infection. We opened another one of the kolsches, and it was certainly different from the well-traveled version. The “control” bottle (one that had been sitting with the rest of our bottles in conditioning chambers) still exhibited some of that butterscotch, but it was far less pronounced. Upon reading more on these butterscotch esters, I feel like with enough bottle conditioning at a warm enough temperature, they may just kind of go away. I reckon we’ll just have to see!