Drinking on a Monday is a short column where I share that one bottle that I open after the most dreadful of all weekdays.
Taking a break from the saisons for a bit, I thought I would focus on this special release from our friends down in Escondido. Now when this beer was announced I was very excited about it. I love the Kolsch style, and the idea of a rye kolsch from Stone made me very excited. I picked the bottle up at my local Trader Joe’s and when I was checking out the clerk told me they had a tasting of it the night before, and it was full of roasted malt, chocolate and coffee. This took me a little off-guard – that doesn’t sound like the kolsch style that I love. But after tasting it, he was right, and that kind of brings up an interesting discussion about beer styles. Everyone’s got an opinion about the proliferation of the ‘IPA’ title on not really IPA beers, but I’m curious how long until that happens to other style. What’s interesting about a kolsch style is that it actually describes the specific process of creating the beer rather than the ingredients (while most ales vary in ingredients more than process). A kolsch is warm-fermented, then cold conditioned, so its not really a lager but it usually has similar characteristics. But lets forget about what the brewery is calling it, and focus on the beer itself.
Spröcketbier smells of fresh roasted coffee, chocolate and a dose of yeast. Certainly not what you would expect from the style. The color is black as night, with a lovely cappuccino-colored head that thins out to a nice film across the entire top of the beer. There’s a really fantastic lacing here that clings to the entire glass as you drink the pint. The beginning of the sip is light, as you would expect from a kolsch, but its immediately interrupted by chocolate and coffee notes. There’s a roasted malt quality thats quite nice, and actually something I love in a kolsch, although this goes much further than anything I’ve tried in the style. There’s a subtle hint of cherry in the background thats really quite lovely and earthy hops balance things out, with a nice spicy rye finish. The body is smooth, silky, light in carbonation but a bit heavier than a kolsch would traditionally be.
With a beer like this you are forced to make a decision – evaluate it on the style, or evaluate it on its own terms. I would never call this a kolsch myself, but its a pretty great beer. Its light but full of those dark roasty flavors. Its like a porter that you could drink all day and night, and thats not something to stick up your nose at.
You can currently try a cask version of this beer at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica