Despite only recently making an appearance at my local Kansas beer store, Alaskan Brewing Company has been churning out quality beers for over three decades. The brewery’s German-style Kölsch has been brewed since 2002, when it began as an experimental brew, but quickly made a name for itself on the awards circuit. The accolades—as well as plenty of thirsty fans—earned Kölsch a place among Alaskan’s year-round offerings and it is easy to see why.
Appearance and Aroma
Alaskan’s Kölsch pours with a rising tide of frothy head that nearly overflows my pint glass. The beer is clearly working with some hefty carbonation, as the cascade of bubbles continues up the glass long after the head settles. A bit darker than I expected, Kölsch is still golden and ever-so-slightly hazy. The aroma however, is textbook kölsch, with a crisp blend of crackers, honey, herbs, and light citrus.
Maybe it’s because Alaskan uses glacier-fed water from the Juneau Ice Field, but the beer tastes cleaner and crisper than most of the style.”
The initial taste certainly doesn’t disappoint as each component of the aroma is fleshed out with added depth. The juxtaposition between the malt and hops is what makes Alaskan’s Kölsch shine: The malt brings honey sweetness and crisp, drying crackery notes, while the hops are spicy and herbal, but also reveal a soft dose of bright, sweet citrus. Maybe it’s because Alaskan uses glacier-fed water from the Juneau Ice Field, but the beer tastes cleaner and crisper than most of the style.
When you ask someone to name the best beer they’ve ever had, the answer is rarely a kölsch. I’m not saying Alaskan’s take on the style ascends to those heights, but what I am saying is that this may be the best kölsch I’ve ever had. Not every highly rated offering has to be double dry-hopped, barrel-aged, or inoculated with wild yeast—there will always be a place for an expertly crafted traditional style beer, and that is exactly what Alaskan has created with its kölsch.