Forgotten Beer Styles: Kottbusser

Old German beer styles, such as the Kottbusser, after 1871 were difficult to survive. This year, Otto von Bismarck united the country, and the new northern territories of Germany had to join the Reinheitsgebot.

Kottbusser gets its name from Cottbus, the city from which it comes. Like many German special styles, it was brewed from local raw materials – oats, wheat, honey, and molasses. After the introduction of the “purity law”, it became “outlawed” – before the European Court of Justice in 1987 allowed not to apply the law. In 1993, Germany introduced a less strict version, but it still prohibits the use of molasses and honey in beer. So even in our time of craft freedom, Kottbusser is still considered a somewhat “rebellious” beer.

Kottbusser is a light beer, often cloudy despite its long maturation, with a golden tinge from a small addition of molasses. In the aroma, delicate German noble needles with herbaceous and floral notes are combined with weak notes of honey. The finish is clean and balanced, often with the same white wine character as Kölsch. And this is not accidental: for this style, the same strain of yeast is often used as for the Düsseldorf altbier and light “hybrid” Cologne ales with cold maturation.

Kottbusser is as refreshing and delicate as the best examples of kölsch. But usually less hospitable, and thanks to oats and wheat, he usually has a more pronounced body and sensation in his mouth. Few beers will be more refreshing than a brewed and aged Kottbusser.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse from Colorado, specializing in traditional German styles. This is one of the few commercial breweries in the world where Kottbusser is brewed. A variety called Snow Drop is part of their permanent lineup. Brewer Don Chapman shared his homemade recipe, which later became the commercial Snow Drop variety.

The main part of the backfill – 58% – is malt pils. It gives a clean, fresh background on which other ingredients can play, with a more pronounced taste, and also facilitates filtration. This is important since there is a lot of wheat and oats in the fall asleep.

“Because of this, you can not use rice husks. In fact, we rarely use it when cooking at all. I usually make sure that at least half of the fall asleep is made of barley, and there are no problems,” says the brewer.

Approximately 30% of wheat malt adds body and improves foam, and also gives the grain a sweetish taste. A generous part – 7% – of flakes of unsalted oats compacts, thickens the foam, makes it more resistant, and also gives the body silkiness, velvetiness. Less than 1% is honey, which is added on the “knockout”. This is enough to add a complex floral character to the fragrance and dry the finish a little. Snow Drop adds only a little molasses — less than 0.05% of all fermented raw materials, in this recipe — under 20 g. Although this is a necessary ingredient of style, Chapman says that it is easy to overdo it, and it can “clog” other delicate tastes.

  • Since molasses can give a taste of iron, I leave it at the very small.

Only noble hoses are used. Chapman makes a very small hosp of the first wort with Hallertauer hoses. Then, to give moderate bitterness, there is Magnum, at the end – another Hallertauer additive for taste and aroma. And finally, on the “knockout” is added a dose of Saaz for the herbaceous aroma.

Chapman recommends the use of soft water and prefers not to make any changes in the composition. This is due to the quality of the water they use.

  • We have very good water, and so, if the style does not need some special salts, I try not to interfere with the water. My guess is that brewers in areas with much harder water will need to soften it a bit.

This is especially true if water with a glandular component is used; Molasses can enhance the metallic taste and spoil the balance.

In this beer, a dry, refreshing finish is desirable, so good attenuation is important. Traditional recipes recommend protein pauses and decoction mashing. Reasonable foresight would be a beta-glucan pause for oats. But, with a composed Snow Drop backfill and a modern modified pils malt, Chapman found that, at least, these extra steps were not needed on their equipment. And the beer turned out well and with a single infusion mash. He recommends a low-temperature pause of an hour at 67 °C and a temperature rise of up to 76 °C for filtration.

As for yeast, Chapman uses White Labs WLP029 German Ale/Kölsch and ferments at 21 °C to make a pure refreshing ale. Although not necessary, it is also possible to leave the beer after the fermentation is complete for cold ripening for two to three weeks at 4 ° C or below. This will allow the often “dusty” yeast to settle, lighten the beer and further enhance the classic soft, dry lager-like finish.

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