Cologne (or Koln) in west-central Germany is one of a handful of cities to lend its name to a beer style. Kolsch is a hybrid: It’s brewed with a top-fermenting yeast strain like an ale, but cold-aged like a lager. The result is a golden, refreshing, pilsnerlike brew with just a touch of ale fruitiness.
In Germany, you must be located in Cologne or its suburbs to call your beer a Kolsch; it’s a controlled appellation recognized by the European Union. No such restriction binds American craft breweries, which have latched onto the style as a more exotic alternative to golden ales and summer wheat beers.
The latest to experiment with a Kolsch-style beer is local nanobrewery Baying Hound Aleworks. And yet, as owner Paul Rinehart admits, “The Germans don’t like us using the word ‘Kolsch,’ not to mention we aren’t in Cologne.” So he decided to name his new release after his hometown, Rockville.
“The City Council seems to like the idea that we named a beer after Rockville,” he adds. Rinehart was reciprocating an earlier gesture of friendship: On March 12, the city awarded him a certificate of appreciation, and council member Tom Moore visited the brewery during Rockville Business Appreciation Week. (Watch the video here.)
Rockville Kolsch-Style Ale replaces the dark offerings, Sarvara Black IPA and Long Snout Stout, in Baying Hound’s lineup, at least for the summer months. It’s a fairly simple recipe, Rinehart says, made from pilsner and Vienna malts and hopped with traditional European varieties Saaz and Tettnang. Rockville is a little hoppier than a German Kolsch, he reports, and at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, a bit stronger than Reissdorf or Gaffel, two German examples most commonly encountered here.
Rockville is already available in 22-ounce bottles. (The brewery’s Web site includes a list of outlets in Maryland, Washington and Virginia.) If you want to sample a draft version, visit the brewery during the official release party this weekend, from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. The mobile grilling service, Carbecue, will cater Saturday’s event.
Another big brew debut: Devils Backbone Brewing Co. in the Blue Ridge Mountains, courtesy of its new bottling and kegging brewery in Lexington, Va., is poised to invade the Northern Virginia market, beginning with a tap takeover at Rustico in Alexandria tonight. The event will feature 17 different draft selections (two on cask), including many rarities from the company’s Roseland brewpub.
Devils Backbone will make two of those beers available year-around: its Vienna Lager and Eight Point IPA. Initially, they’ll be draft only, with six-packs of 12-ounce bottles following in mid-May, according to Wayne Biggs, vice president of sales and marketing of Guiffre Distributing in Springfield.
Brewmaster Jason Oliver also hopes to market 6 to 8 seasonals over the course of the year (his Belgian Congo Pale Ale is first up) as well as limited releases in 22-ouncers and kegs.
If you can’t make it to Rustico tonight, Devils Backbone has scheduled several other tap takeovers for the Virginia ’burbs, including Tuesday at Galaxy Hut in Arlington; Wednesday at Telegraph Station in Alexandria; and Wednesday, May 2, at Pizzeria Paradiso in Alexandria.