Privatbrauerei Gaffel Becker & Co. - Gaffel Kölsch
- ABV: 4.8%
- Bottle Size: 500-ml
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 25
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Stange, Pilsner Glass
- Hops: Hallertauer Perle, Hallertauer Magnum
Brewing at Gaffel’s original brewing location on the road known as Eigelstein in Cologne, Germany began at least as early as 1302 when records show a brewery by the name of Zum Leysten. At the time, breweries lined the entire street, serving thirsty travelers arriving in the city. Even in 1838, there were still 18 breweries operating in this part of the city. The name “Gaffel” derives from, and pays homage to, the German term for the commercial guilds which played a leading role in the politics and administration of Cologne in the 14th century.
Over the centuries, the brewery’s location at Eigelstein 41 was always home to restaurants and usually a brewery, too. In 1888, after a pause of several years, Adam Lenzen began brewing again at the location, which was then known as “Brusselser Hof”. In 1908, the Becker brothers bought the brewery and remodeled it in the style of an old guild house, which they named “In der Gaffel”. By the 1920s, Gaffel had grown to be the largest house brewery for top-fermented beer in the Cologne tradition known as kölsch.
Deriving its name from Köln, the German spelling of Cologne, kölsch is a top-fermenting beer (the ale yeast species rises to the top of the fermenting vessel) and then cold-conditioned like a lager. (It’s worth noting that this cold conditioning only became common among Cologne brewers in the mid-18th century, as they sought to compete against lager beer which was exploding in popularity.) Much like other top-fermented German beers like altbier and weissbier, kölsch may seem unusual to those for whom German beer equates only to lager, which is bottom-fermented using different yeast strains at cooler temperatures than top-fermented ales. But, German brewing traditions are rich with a multitude of different styles and techniques, some ancient and some modern. Today, the kölsch style is very specifically defined and regulated by the Cologne Brewery Association, and the label “kölsch” is a protected designation of origin within the E.U., much like how the term “champagne” can only legally be applied in the E.U. to wines made in Champagne using the traditional method.
In 2016, Gaffel had simply run out of space at their original location in Eigelstein, so they relocated to a second facility they had operated since 1998 and set about expanding and upgrading technology and capacity. Currently, Heinrich Philipp Becker represents the fourth generation of Beckers to run the brewery. Under his management, Gaffel has grown to become the dominant kölsch among Cologne restaurants, with over 30% of the market. While steadfastly maintaining the tradition of authentic kölsch, the brewery is looking to the future and innovating. They’ve applied their top-fermenting prowess towards the introduction of a popular and award-winning Citra-hopped pale ale known as Sonnen Hopfen, as well as a traditionally cloudy beer know as Gaffel Weiss, which evokes the unfiltered cloudy beers which are the forefathers of modern kölsch. They’ve also created some unique kölsch interpretations in partnership with the Danish brewer Mikkeller. Gaffel is also now in the distilling business with their line of Gaffel Spirits. For more info, visit them at gaffel.de/en.
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