I remember a spring evening years ago when I was first introduced to a style of beer I quickly fell in love with.
Its name is Kölsch, and this was before it was cool (Yes…I sound like a hipster, but it’s true). I wasn’t in a bar or restaurant. I was at the home of local brewmaster, Scott Burgess. As the sun set, we sat at a picnic table in his backyard that featured a welcoming and impressive home brewery/mini beer garden. Usually I find man caves tacky. Huge TVs and the latest Xbox do nothing for me. But this was one I could get behind.
“I’m really more of a wine drinker, “ I explained, trying to politely refuse his offer of some sort of stout. It’s not that I dislike stouts, it’s just that my palate is sated after one small sip, and then I’m left with the rest of a pint that feels as heavy and daunting as eating loaf of rye bread in one sitting. Afterwards, I usually just want to take a nap.
“Try this,” he said, handing me a curiously dainty glass filled with a light heady beer that would soon become my favorite. He described it as a beer for wine lovers. Its delicate balance of malt, water, yeast, and hops was interesting, yet accessible. It had just the right level of light effervescence that reminded me of a Prosecco, but was still something I could drink with the fellas at a sporting event (in case I ever develop the desire to attend one).
Now River Rat and Coast Brewing Company have their own versions of this delicately flavored, refreshing lager—and both are worthy. But they fail to stand up to my first Kölsch experience.
Sadly, there wasn’t much I could do about this, short of sneaking into an acquaintance’s yard Mission Impossible-style, jimmying the lock of his brew shed, absconding with a keg of the stuff in the middle of the night (probably with some help), and then getting carted away in handcuffs after botching the whole endeavor.
In 2015, Scott founded Bierkeller Columbia, Columbia’s first authentic German beer garden experience. You can read all about it here. He’ll be setting up pop up beer gardens all over the city, so you probably want to go ahead and like them on Facebook to keep up with them.
That same magic Kölsch I adore is ready for the masses, and will be available for your drinking pleasure this Saturday, May 14. Come to Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company for the release of Batch #1 Bierkeller Kölumbianer Kölsch-style beer.
There will be plenty of tables for you and your friends, and the Wurst Wagen will be there too (to complete your German experience). I was recently invited for a preview glass, and I promise it’s just as amazing as it was three years ago.
This is one Columbia beer event you won’t want to run, run, away from.