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Full Circle

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New Holland Brewing Co.
Holland, MI

Style: Kölsch

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Let’s talk kölsch. Actually it should probably be spelled with a capital K, because kölsch is an appellation, protected quite virulently by the folks in Cologne, Germany, known locally as Köln, kölsch’s home. (The distinctive cylindrical glass kölsch is traditionally served in is also protected by law). The city is an old, old brewing center, serving as such while it was a colony under the Roman empire. Yeah, that’s fucking old. The actual style of kölsch came about as a reaction to pilsner. Over the, well, millennia, Cologne brewed a variety of beers, but after pilsner began its rapid enslavement of the beer world, the brewers of Cologne came up with kölsch, a top-fermenting, very light, refreshing beer brewed with pilsner malt and, sometimes, with a small amount (10-20 percent of the grist) of wheat to lighten things up even more. And that, as they say, is history. The city now boasts something like 20 breweries, all of them producing a kölsch, some of them brewing that style exclusively.

Despite kölsch being a classic world style, only a handful are produced by American craft brewers. One of those brewers is New Holland, over in Holland, Michigan. Their version pours exactly as it should: very pale and mostly clear. The head is fizzy and restrained, a spitting image of a pilsner. Except, of course, it isn’t.

A sniff reveals slightly fruity malt with a kiss of hops. The following taste also has some frutiness at the front of a SOFT, lightly malty center. The finish is a firm nip of noble hops and a tiny bit of spiciness that lends the beer a somewhat dry finish.

Full Circle is a light, clean, delicate brew, just like an authentic kölsch should be. Although this is a very nice stab at this great style—and highly recommended—it’s not quite as meaty as the real thing: go to a real German bar with a fresh keg of Reissdorf Kölsch on tap, and you’ll know what I mean.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on April 30, 2008.
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