I’m tired of big beer, big flavor. At least for now. I just spent a week in California, drinking inky red wines in Napa and Sonoma, Consecration at Russian River Brewing, Cable Car, La Folie, and Pliny at the Toronado, Deliverance and Alaskan Smoked Porter at Beer Revolution, and White Oak at City Beer. I know, I know, poor me…but my palate is fatigued. Plus, it was 60 degrees there, and now back here in Miami, it’s hotter than hell. I need a summer beer – and a couple weeks ago, I had stowed a can of Harpoon Summer Beer in my fridge for precisely this purpose.
In the style of a Kolsch, this is one lame name for a beer. Why couldn’t they at least call it Harpoon Kolsch? In any event, I don’t know that I’ve reviewed a Kolsch here yet, so I’d better say a few words about the style. It originates from Germany, and should be very light bodied, crisp, and easy drinking with a touch of flowery hop bite. Very similar to a lager, except it’s not a lager, it’s an ale, therefore brewed with a top-fermenting yeast at warm temperatures.
Really, all you need to know is that it’s a refreshing blonde ale, with a mild, pleasing hop bitterness. Or it should be, at least.
It looks appealing in a pilsner glass, a clear gold with solid foam retention. The aroma is that of bread, with a slight herbal note that I’m going to call a hint of fennel. Maybe a little evergreen, too.
I never have been the biggest fan of Harpoon beers, but I have to say, this is a nice Kolsch. It hits the marks – it’s clean, carbonation is spot on with a soft-ish mouthfeel, and it finishes with a flowery bitterness that is in no way overbearing.
If it’s hot out, and you’re not in the mood for one of those beers with layers and layers of dense flavor – yet you still want a quality brew with more flavor than a Budweiser – this isn’t bad at all. And, this can be found at just about any area Total Wine or Whole Foods.
Reissdorf Kolsch is pretty good too, and can also be found locally. Pair your Kolsch with afternoons on the beach, BBQs, and tailgate parties. Again, these are very similar to your standard lagers, yet they don’t quite have the austere bitterness sometimes associated with lagers. They are actually a slight bit easier-drinking – possibly the most approachable style in the world, if you want my opinion.