Thursday, April 28, 2016


Christopher L. Warner

Kölsch was first created in the early 1900s at the Sunner Brewery in Cologne (Koln), Germany.  Kölsch was Germany's answer to Britain's pale ale.  It shares a common history with two "old" German ales: 1) the copper-colored Altbier brewed in Dusseldorf and, and 2) to a lesser extent a whitish Bavarian ale known as Keuterbier, or Mumme.



Geographic Recognition

Kölsch is a geographically protected beer.  In 1948, the Cologne Brewery Association issued the Kölsch Konvention, which set modern Kölsch brewing specifications.  In 2009, the European Union (EU) reinforced the geographical protection by registering Kölsch with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). [1]  In the 40 or 50 years following its first release, German popularity of Kölsch waivered, with many breweries ultimately disbanding the production.  Granted, a number of these breweries within the Cologne region were devastated by military operations during World War II.  In 1960, Kölsch began a resurgence in popularity, peaking in 1980, moderated around 2005.  Today, on the two dozen or so certified Cologne breweries may legally refer to their beer as "Kölsch."

Here in the United States, local interpretations of Kölsch have been gaining popularity, more so over the last five years with the most activity in only the most recent couple years.  Because it is a crisp, refreshing beer, many local craft breweries create Kölsch to celebrate the spring and summer months. 

As described by the German Beer Institute, Germany is known for its lagers of all strengths and colors; however, modern Kölsch is Germany's only true, all-barley, pale ale.  While the Brits revere their pale ale, or bitter, as the national beer, Kölsch never rose to such status in Germany.  Instead, it remains a largely regional favorite, centered in Cologne.


Kölsch should be served in a straight-sided, 6 fluid ounce glass known as a stange (sh-tong-ah).  If you don't have a stange, the Kolsch may be served in a flute or even a tumbler.  The bottom line is that Kölsch is meant to be enjoyed fresh, cold, and quickly - not chugged - but quickly.

Medieval Roots

Ancient documents tell us brewing in Cologne dates back at least 1000 years; but modern Kölsch dates back only about one hundred years.  For centuries, German brewers were dedicated to creating bottom-fermenting beers.  In 1603, Cologne officials in an effort to preserve "old" indigenous ale-style beers issued an ordinance which stated in part [Cologne] brewers were only permitted to brew top-fermenting beers.


The 2015 edition of the Beer Judge Certification Program Beer Style Guideline describes the general impression of Kölsch as a clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer with a very subtle fruit and hop character with subdued maltiness. 

APPEARANCE:  clear, very pale gold to light in color.

MOUTHFEEL:  generally lighter in mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.

TRADITIONAL INGREDIENTS:  German Pils or pale malt up to 20% wheat, clean ale yeast, and traditional German hops (Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt, or Hersbrucker).


COLOR:  3.5 - 5.0 SRM


[1]  Dossier 4271, 05-25-2009, updated 06-15-2009.

Kölsch in Stange:, website visited April 28, 2016.
Vintage Photo:, website visited April 27, 2016.


Christopher L. Warner

Berliner Weisse is an interesting, historic German ale.  Its most fundamental definition is that of a “sour, tart fruity, high effervescent, spritzy, and refreshing ale” [1] enjoyed mostly in Berlin (Germany) on a hot summer day. Berliner Weisse is made from barley and wheat malts which are kilned at low temperatures in order to maintain their respective lighter colors.  It is fermented with a combination ale yeast and lactobacillales (the same lactic acid bacteria used to culture yogurt).  Berlin-brewed Berliner Weisse carries an alcohol by volume (ABV) of between 2.5% - 2.7%, perhaps as high as 3.0%.  Here in the States, craft brewers may crank the ABV up to 5.5%.


Berliner Weisse is best served in a chalice or goblet and traditionally served “mit Schuss” (with a shot) of either raspberry-flavored syrup (red) or woodruff-flavored syrup (green).  Woodruff is hard to come by in the United States, so a capable substitute is vanilla- or marshmallow-flavored syrup. The syrups are added to cut the stringent, lactic acid taste of straight Berliner Weisse.

Conflicting Origins

There are generally two schools of thought among beer historians on the origin of Berliner Weisse.  All seem to acknowledge the derivation of European wheat ales from or around Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), located southeast of Berlin, sometime in the Middle Ages, most likely in the 13th Century when the addition of hops added to beer was perfected.  From this point, historians differ.

One theory states Berliner Weisse is an evolution of a malted barley and wheat ale known as Halberstadter Broihans brewed Halberstadt, just west of Berlin. Halberstadter Broihans was brought to Berlin in the late 17th Century, possibly by French Huegenots escaping the religious persecution of King Louis XIVth.

Other historians point to documents dating back as far as 1642 and 1552 which appear to chronicle the creation of Weisse as purely geographical in or around Berlin.

By the 19th Century, Berliner Weisse was the favored drink having hundreds of neighborhood breweries offering local interpretations.  Through the 20th Century, however, interest waned and today, there may be only one or two breweries left in Berlin producing it, primarily the Schültheiss Brewery, part of the Brau and Brunnen brewery conglomerate.

The People’s Champagne

Grapes don’t grow very well in Northern Germany.  Cereal grains, on the other hand, grow quite well; thus, the popularity of beer in the north.  Modern Berliner Weisse is made from 25% - 30% wheat, but historical documents indicate Weisse may have been made with as much as 50% - 60% wheat.  The remainder of the grist is barley.  Its low ABV indicates Berliner Weisse is more of a session beer.  In its earliest days, Berliner Weisse was sometimes sold in earthen crockware (a precursor to the modern growler), then buried in the sand for up to three additional months for conditioning.

When Napoleon’s forces occupied Berlin in 1809, he proclaimed Berliner Weisse as “the People’s Champagne.” [1]  Modern Berliners are a bit less enthusiastic and simply refer to Weisse as “the worker’s sparkling wine.” [1]

Geographic Recognition

Berliner Weisse is geographically recognized and as with other traditional German beers, may only be referredto as “Berliner Weiss” or “Weissbier” if it is produced within a sanctioned Berlin-based brewery.  As stated, that is pretty much only the Schültheiss Brewery.  The European Union (EU) reinforced the geographic recognition by issuing Berliner Weisse a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).  A PGI covers agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to a geographical area. At least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation takes place in the area. [2]

Mit Schuss (With Syrup)

As introduced earlier, Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with a shot of syrup, usually either raspberry or woodruff.  This is to cut the lactic acid characteristic resulting from the use of  lactobacillales.  Tradition has it you first add a jigger of syrup into an empty chalice, then add the Weisse to the glass.  Raspberry syrup turns the Weisse red while the woodruff turns it green.  Because of this, Berliners order their Berliner Weisse “rot oder grün” (red or green). And please, DO NOT ask for a straw!


There are many open sources offering descriptions and brewing guidelines, but the most recognized is the Beer Judge Certification Program 2015 Style Guidelines [3], which states in part:

AROMA: sharply sour, somewhat acidic character.
APPEARANCE: Straight Berliner Weisse is very pale straw in color (SRM of 2-4), clear to somewhat hazy, large, dense, white head with poor retention, and always effervescent.
FLAVOR: Clean lactic sourness with low hop bitterness.
MOUTHFEEL: Light body, dry finish, high carbonation.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: A very pale, sour, refreshing, low-alcohol wheat ale.

COMMON INGREDIENTS: Wheat malt content is typically 50% of the grist (as with all German wheat beers) with the remainder being Pilsner malt. A symbiotic fermentation with top-fermenting yeast and Lactobacillus delbruckii provides the sharp sourness.



[1] German Beer Institute,, website visited April 26, 2016.
[3], website visited April 26, 2016.


Three Chalices of Berliner Weisse:, website visited April 27, 2016.
Vintage Brewer: Die Berliner Weiße – Ein Stück Berliner Geschichte,

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Christopher L. Warner 

Introducing the Hometown Craft Beer Network, LLC (HCBN).  The first socialmedia network featuring the Ohio Craft Beer Culture.  It's taken about a year to launch this little project, but it has been fun, challenging, and educational along the way.  We have met some great folks and have been fortunate to meet some local brewers who saw value in our concept.  You can listen to their interviews in the coming podcasts.  Stephanie and I hope you enjoy our offerings, and we certainly hope to contribute to the Ohio Craft Beer Culture. Exactly what is the Ohio Craft Beer Culture, you may ask?  What is HCBN? What is socialcasting?...well, let’s start with the Ohio Craft Beer Culture.


BEER GOGGLES is the written word of HCBN.  It compliments TAPROOM TALK, the spoken word of HCBN.  Along with our website and Twitter postings, we hope to inspire fellow craft beer enthusiasts and craft brewers alike.  Looking forward to many conversations in the future.

The Ohio Craft Beer Culture

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So, what is this thing we call the “Ohio Craft Beer Culture”?  If you follow our blogs, podcasts, and other HCBN musings, then you will come across this term a lot.  In short, the Ohio Craft Beer Culture is us - proud Ohioans fascinated with and passionate about craft beer.  The history, traditions, renaissance, and the resurgence of the neighborhood craft brewery.  It doesn’t matter what particular part of Ohio each of us calls home, we each and all have great pride in our Ohio-based craft beers.  One of the unique things about #OhioCraftBeerCulture is our warm and welcoming hospitality to our family, friends, and visitors - even if we just met them sitting on the barstool next us.  No matter where we go - Northeast (Cleveland / Akron), Northwest (Toledo / the Islands), Southwest (Cincinnati / Dayton), Southeast (Athens), Central (Columbus), and all points in between - all are welcome...and we enjoy the time spent with each.  Any topic is open for friendly debate over a couple pints.  There are very few sub-cultures that can boast such a common enjoyment.

What is the Hometown Craft Beer Network?

HCBN is a socialcasting network, utilizing various socialmedia platforms in order to serve the craft beer interested, enthusiast, brewer, and cottage industries.  At first, our network is a grouping anchored on our website,, with podcasts, blogs, and social blasts each playing an integral role.  It is our vision to offer insights into the #OhioCraftBeerCulture by presenting various local craft beer style interpretations through interviews and other postings.  We're open to all facets of the craft beer industry (just a note: mobile canning operations and hop farms fascinate me...).  But, (through the words of Pee Wee Herman - there’s always a BIG BUT…), we are not critics...each of us has our own tastes, likes, and dislikes and HCBN chooses to celebrate and respect those individual tastes bonded together by a common passion for craft beer.  

If we inspire you to taste or brew something new, then we have met our goal. If we help to embolden someone to try a craft beer for the first time, then welcome to the family!

HCBN is unique.  At the time of this writing, HCBN is the only such network dedicated to the Ohio Craft Beer Culture.  True - there are many outlets promoting local craft beer-centric events and social calendars - and they make up a vital part of the Ohio Craft Beer Culture; but, HCBN is the first and only network integrating multiple social media platforms under a single network dedicated to the Ohio Craft Beer Culture.
Socialcasting started around 2008 when video, or streaming, was carried via the internet.  Some referred to it as Web 2.0 or web TV.  Since that time, it has kind of spread to other social media platforms.  HCBN goes well beyond social media...HCBN integrates various social media platforms into a complimentary network where the written, spoken, and visual word compliments each other rather than contradicts.  Our initial launch includes our website (, our podcasts (TAPROOM TALK), our blog (BEER GOGGLES), our two Twitter accounts: @BuckeyeBeerTalk (Christopher) and @HmetwnCraftBeer (Stephanie), e-mail newsletters, and our Facebook page.  We do have plans for sustainable growth, but for now, we are focusing on just a few.

HCBN Test Market

HCBN's test market is the Central Ohio region.  To be honest, not sure how long this test period will last - perhaps a year for content build - perhaps less (or more).  We certainly have every intent of traveling to ALL Ohio regions.  There is no preference to Central over Northeast or be honest, HCBN chose Central Ohio as the test market because the staff lives in Central Ohio, but we frequently travel to all areas.

Call to Action

If HCBN sounds interesting to you, then please continue reading BEER GOGGLES, drop us an e-mail, listen to TAPROOM TALK, and visit our website. Let us know your thoughts and interests.
Now, promoting the Ohio Craft Beer Culture costs money.  We are not looking for any major investors (at this point), but we could certainly use some financial help.  Things like Facebook campaigns, podcast hosting, web hosting start to add up.  Please consider advertising on our website or sponsoring a segment on TAPROOM TALK.  Until then, Cheers my Friend!  
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