A city split by the Rhine into two equally large portions: East Cologne and West Cologne. This bustling German metropolis sits on the bones of a city soaked in European lore and gallons of juicy beer history.
The Romans, when they were gallivanting around the European country side building cities wherever the hell the felt like it, established the city of Colonia in 50 AD. Being the crafty, engineering minded bastards they were, they built a bigass bridge over the Rhine, in order to use the fertile land on the other bank without having to swim the 1000+ foot river over and over and over again.
The Romans ruins are mostly gone, but some reminders of the original Latin overloads remain.
Cologne has an amazing history. Seriously, take some time and read about it.
It’s also the home of the famous “Kölsch” beer style, deriving its name from the German name of the town, “Köln.” When a beer is born of a particular town, it develops its own weird subculture. It’s a phenomenon I know well, living only a short distance from the origin of Natural Bohemian in Baltimore, MD.
The Natty Boh guy is everywhere.
Unlike Natty Boh, who created a subculture of bad beer and binge drinking, Kölsch created its own dialect. It also created a fierce rivalry with nearby Düsseldorf, who claims its own local Altbier (fermented warm with top yeast) is vastly superior to Kölsch (fermented warm then lager conditioned) in all possible ways. Cologne obviously argues the exact opposite.
Dusseldorfians are all like, “Kölsch sucks.”
Colognians are all like, “Nah yo’, Altbier sucks.”
Bitter, bitter rivalry. Worse than Red Socks/Yankees. Worse than Manchester United/Chelsea. Worse than Michigan/Ohio State.
Hatfields vs. McCoys but with more beer and less moonshine.
The good news is, I can resolve this centuries long battle for them. Dusseldorf? Cologne? Put down the pointy sticks and torches. Both beers are good. Very good. Way better than most American stuff. Can you please come over and give brewing lessons? Start in White Plains, New York. They need help.
My boys at Sam Adams have paid homage to the classic, structured traditions of brewing of Western Germany and produced a quite enjoyable beer. East West Kölsch is hoppy enough to notice, but not extreme. It is light and refreshing, making it a perfect addition to their already bright and cheery summer sampler. At 5.1% ABV it is a bit high for a session beer, but it goes down smooth with only a slight carbonation burn.
It doesn’t appear that Sam Adams makes an Altbier, but I imagine when they do, it’ll be hard to keep these two from breaking bottles over each other’s…bottles.
9 out of 10.