Kölsch beer, the toast of Cologne, Germany

Cologne (Köln) Germany, the sociable city on the Rhine River dates back 2000 years. Beyond being one of Germany’s largest cities and featuring one of the tallest cathedrals in the world, the city has a reputation for its friendly and outgoing people. 

The fun and cheerful spirit of Cologne can be related to its standing as a large city center, with universities, museums, and nightlife. 

But perhaps, the reason for its lighthearted spirit is the large number of pubs that are found here. Cologne has the most brewhouses per capita in Germany at over 3,000.

One of the attractions of the many breweries is the local beer named for the Colognian dialect of the same name, Kölsch. The beer here has become a part of the local lifestyle and directly reflects the culture of the Kölsch people. 

Only permitted to be brewed locally, Kölsch is fermented with low sugar and less malt than other Germanic beers. Produced high in hops, but with low gas from carbon dioxide, the result is a lightly fruity beer with hoppy bitterness.

The Kölsch beer experience starts with its presentation in a “stange” the local name for the columnar-shaped glass that holds the beer. Holding approximately 7 ounces of brew, the volume of the serving coincides with the small barrel size of the kegs which are less than three gallons. This guarantees the freshness of every serving of beer. 

You can find about 25 types of Kölsch brands throughout Cologne primarily served at brewery restaurants – Brauhäuser. The pub experience dates back to the early 19th century when local breweries sold their version of Kölsch from small hallways and courtyards throughout the city. As time went on these temporary brewhouses became the rustic Brauhäuser that you can find throughout Cologne today. 

The Brauhaus over time has developed its own culture. It is now a traditional atmosphere filled with a light-hearted and friendly environment where everyone is equal and the focus is enjoyment. So well known, that travelers come worldwide just to experience it. 

Another important part of the kölsch experience is the uncustomary servers that distribute the beer. Referred to as “köbes”, pronounced like kur-bess, these non-traditional waiters are dressed in traditional blue knitted jackets, black trousers held up by a leather belt with a large purse hanging from it, and a matching blue apron. These friendly yet sarcastic servers typically will be rushing around, serving guests freshly tapped glasses of beer. 

Worth noting, when the köbes spot an empty beer glass, they respond by replacing it with another and then another until the happy intoxicated guest places their coaster over the glass signifying that they have had enough.

Did you know Cologne and a Kölsch encounter can be enjoyed during a European river cruise?

Join BucketList Travel Advisors in June 2023 for an 11-night journey along the Rhine and Moselle rivers including a full day in Cologne so you can Prost among the best of them. Find out more about this itinerary – here.