This beer which looks simple is in fact quite complex. This Kolsch has existed in DC since before the Mad Fox Brewing Company existed in Falls Church. Easy drinking, it was born at the Capitol City Brewpub before Cap City became a ghost brewery. The recipe hasn’t changed much in over 20 years which is remarkable as the beer is better than it’s ever been.
Kolsch is Chief Executive Officer and Executive Brewer Bill Madden’s baby. On the DCBeer Show, Madden said that in the 1990s DC was called “the Cologne on the Potomac” because so many breweries were brewing Kolsch in this area. “You ask a brewer to brew a light golden ale this is the perfect answer for it,” he said.
Mad Fox’s Kellerbier Kolsch appears a simple a light golden ale, it drinks more like the world-famous German Früh Kölsch, Gaffel Kölsch, or Reissdorf Kölsch, than the majority of American blonde ales. It has a faint hop character from a bountiful amount of German-tasting hops, earthy, and cellar-like with a bright lemony character that cuts through and puts dustier Kolsch-style American beers to shame. At 4.4% abv it is infinitely crushable.
The recipe reformulation was done early on in the life of this Kolsch when Madden tasted some Greman examples his friends brought back to him from the German city of Cologne. Other American brewers would be wise to visit or revisit the classics and see how their Kolsch stands up to the ones made in Cologne. Madden calls Kolsch “a beer by which a brewer stands naked because there’s nowhere to hide and if there’s any flaw in that beer you’re going to find it immediately”. This beer is a pure expression of malt and hops and subtle yeast character. Anyone can be loud in neon but it takes a skilled artist to paint a brilliant picture using only soft colors. “I’m known for Kolsch” Madden relays—and for good reason.
Kellerbier Kolsch sells for $6.59 a pint or $15.99 a growler fill at the Mad Fox Brewpub in Falls Church.