German Kölsch beers may not be very common in America, but they represent a pinnacle of summer drinking refreshment. While true versions are brewed exclusively in the Rhineland city of Cologne, Kölsch (and American-brewed “Kölsch-style”) beers pour a light golden color and offer unfussy taste with plenty of crisp, dry balance to help cool down overheated drinkers. During brewing, the beer is fermented at lower temperatures than other, heavier ales, resulting in a cleaner overall taste that works perfectly when served cold. Sound like the perfect summer sipping? You can go to just about any worthwhile beer store in Los Angeles and pick some up right now, thanks to Golden Road Brewing.
The forward-thinking Atwater Village brewery has officially released their canned Cabrillo Kölsch, a predictable “East meets West” mashup that imbues Kölsch drinkability with West Coast hop sensibilities. The Cabrillo name makes sense too, considering the surname’s ancestry around these parts. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was a Spanish-Portuguese explorer in the 1600s, often credited as the first European explorer to sail along the California coast. During his time at sea, Cabrillo interacted with Chumash tribes, sailed as far north as the Russian River and ultimately met his fate on one of the Channel Islands. You can find the Cabrillo surname on monuments at Point Loma in San Diego and along beachfront in San Pedro. The state of California has even officially designated September 29th as “Cabrillo Day,” although it’s not recommended that you wait that long to grab a can of Cabrillo Kölsch from your local beer purveyor.
This is exactly the type of beer you should be drinking right now. In that post-Memorial Day lull of early Southern California summer, you may find yourself wary of the hoppy, bitter IPAs that have begun flooding the market (as an example, Golden Road recently began canning their 8% Wolf Among Weeds IPA), but don’t have it in you to chew on a pint of porter when the nights turn cold. Instead, you could try reaching for Golden Road’s exceptionally balanced Cabrillo, which — at a low 5% ABV — will satiate your tongue without leaving your brain too foggy. The beer finishes like a smooth like a conventional lager, with just the slightest uptick in Noble Hops that let you know you’re still on the West Coast. The head is bone-white and foamy at first, before settling down into a light crown of carbonation at the top. You’ll find that same carbonation throughout your pint; it’s less the soda-style bubbles you might be thinking of and more of a slow, churning bubble that runs up along the edges of the glass. There’s crispness in there, the sort that plays on your tongue for a moment before washing back along your tastebuds. Back there is where you’ll find all the flavors of summer: field grasses and citrus, sunshine and beaches.
As always, Golden Road is committed to delivering the truest 16 ounce pint in their photo-quality cans, which means you can easily pick up a four pack of Cabrillo Kölsch brews to take to the beach, on a hike, or just to enjoy at home as you wait for the sun to set. As the seasons change, so do our tastes, and you can set your calendar by the annual roll-out of late spring and summer beer styles. But the under-used Kölsch, with its easy drinking, light body and relatively low alcohol percentage, is a true reminder that the sunshine is here to stay. And under Golden Road Brewing’s direction, the Carbillo Kölsch might be sticking around for a while too.
Golden Road Brewing: 5430 West San Fernando Rd., Atwater Village; (213) 373-4677. goldenroad.la