Cologne (Köln) Breweries
Kölsch and other beers


This a short list of the breweries in and around Cologne and the beers which they brew.

Cologne is not a city not usually associated with beer. Incorrectly, as it turns out, because not only does it have its own style of beer, but is also the only city in Germany to have a sort of 'apellation controlée'. The style is called "Kölsch", local dialect for "of Cologne".

Until a depessingly familiar sudden rationalisatin in the 1980's and 1990's, Cologne had more breweries than any other German city. Of the 24, mostly small, Köisch producers, that signed the 'Kölsch Convention', only a handful remain.

The loss has been offset a little by a clutch of new brewpubs. In a welcome deviation from the indentikit beers turned out by such establishments elsewhere in Germany, all brew examples of the local beer style.

What is Kölsch?

In 1985 (25.06.1985 to be precise) the German government and 24 breweries from the Cologne region published the 'Kölsch Convention'. It was inspired by the attempts - fiercely resisted in Cologne - of outside brewers to cash in on the popularity of Kölsch.

According to the convention, a beer may only be called Kölsch if it meets the following criteria:
  • it is brewed in the Cologne metropolitan area
  • pale in colour
  • top-fermented
  • hop-accented
  • filtered
  • 'vollbier' - 11 - 14% plato

How does Kölsch taste?

A relative of the Altbier brewed in other parts of the rhineland, Kölsch is a survivor from the pre-lager brewing tradition of North Germany, belonging to the family of Rheinländische Bitterbier. This century, under pressure from newer, bottom-fermenting beers, it has undergone a good deal of change. Most notable of these, is the lightening of the colour to pale yellow, giving it the appearance of a pils. You could call it 'the ale that wants to be a lager' and I'm sure that would many, in a blind tasting, would classify it as the latter.

There is little ale character to be found, apart from a little fruitiness. It has a very soft, rounded character and can be quite sweet. Bavarian helles and Dortmunder export are closer relatives in flavour than Düsseldorf altbier. Not beers likely to acquire the devoted and obsessive following that lambiek, trappist ale or a particularly flavoursome bitter might, but of interest as an odd, hybrid style.

Around 50% of Kölsch is sold on draught, about double the average for all beer. In a traditional "Brauhaus" (even those that no longer brew) it's often served direct from a wooden barrel. Even small neighbourhood bars often have a little plastic cask of Kölsch on the bar.

Sales of Kölsch (see below) have fallen in recent years, but at a slightly lower rate than sales of all beer.
Kölner Brauerei Verband
The Cologne brewers' organistaion and upholders of the Kölsch-Konvention.

On their site, you can discover more about the history of brewing in Cologne and Kölsch (in German, I'm afraid). Both are very extensive and well-researched - amongst the best sites on beer history I've found on the web.

Largest Kölsch brewers - Kölsch production (in hl)
Rank Brewery 2001 2002 2004 2005
1 Köllner Verbund 751,000 691,000 580,000* 540,000*
2 Reißdorf 486,000 541,000 661,000 662,000
3 Cölner Hofbräu Josef Früh 443,000 420,000 419,000 396,000
4 Gaffel 403,000 416,000 467,000 480,000
5 Dom 300,000 300,000 170,000 not known
  Total top 5 2,383,000 2,368,000 2,297,000  
  Other 174,000 126,000 188,187  
  Total 2,557,000 2,494,000 2,485,187 2,405,875
Years 2001 and 2002: Brauwelt 43/2003 (p.1300)
Years 2004 and 2005: Brauwelt 22-23/2003 (p.646)

* estimated

Cologne (Köln) Breweries
Brewery listings

Christianstr. 2,
50825 Köln (Ehrenfeld)
Telefon: 0221-2856932

Founded: 2001
Annual production:

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Helios 4.8%   Unfiltered Kölsch.
Cloudy pale yellow colour with a fine, dense head; pepper, grass and basil aroma; sweetish/bitter taste with vanilla, resin, pepper and grass aromas; very bitter finish with pine, resin, pepper and grass aromas.
About the bitterest Kölsch I've tried. Very nice indeed.
Tasted 13/03/2007.
Helios Weizen 5.3%   Unfiltered pale wheat beer.  
Ehrenfelder Alt     Alt. The only Alt brewed in Cologne.  


Cölner Hofbräu P. Josef Früh
Am Hof 12,
50667 Köln.
Telefon: 0221-26130

Annual production: 420,000 (2002)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Früh Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Pepper, basil and butter aroma; bitterish taste with butter, pepper and hop aromas; bitter finish with pepper and basil.
An excellent hop aroma - it tastes as if its been dry-hopped. Very lighyt in body, but tasty nonetherless.

Independent brewery.

Privatbrauerei Joh. Cramer & Cie.
Zehnthofstraße 66,
52385 Nideggen-Wollersheim
Fon: 02425-204,
Fax: 02425-7299,

Founded: 1791
Annual production: 13,000 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Cramer Malzbier     Malzbier. Claims to be brewed to the Reinheitsgebot, yet this is the list of ingredients: water, Gerstenmalz, sugar, hops, colouring E 150c.  
Cramer Edel-Pils 4.8%   Pils.  
Cramer Obergärig 4.8%   A blond Alt.  

Independent brewery.

Dom-Brauerei GmbH
Alteburger Straße 145 - 155,
50968 Köln.
Tel.: 02 21 / 3 76 08-0
Fax: 02 21 / 3 76 08-11

Founded: 1894 *** CLOSED 2006 ***
Annual production: 300,000 hl (2002)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Dom Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch. Grist contains a proportion of wheat malt.  
Dom Pils 4.8%   Pils.  
Rats Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Ganser Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Schreckenskammer Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch. Contract brewed for the Schreckenskammer pub. Casks are filled without added CO2.  

In 1974 the Cologne brewery on Tacitusstr. became 100% top-fermenting. In 1983 brewed over 500,000 hl Kölsch. In 1994 bought Brauerei Robert Metzmacher and their Rats Kölsch. In 1998 bought 80% of Giesler, whose brewery was shut in 2001. In 2001 moved from Tacitusstr. to the old Küppers plant on the Alteburgerstr. Now brewing 300,000 hl, 60% draught.

The former Küppers brewery - when the Küppers moved out it was bought by Dom, who closed their original brewery. Confused? After closure in 2006 production was transfered to the Erzquell-Brauerei.

Erzquell-Brauerei, Bielstein Haas & Co. KG
Bielsteinerstr. 108,
51674 Wiehl-Bielstein.
Telefon: 02262 / 82-0
Telefax: 02262 / 82-106

Founded: 1900
Annual production: 130,000 hl (2003)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Zunft Kölsch Light 2.4%   Kölsch.  
Zunft Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Dom Pils 4.8%   Pils.  
Rats Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Ganser Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Schreckenskammer Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch. Contract brewed for the Schreckenskammer pub. Casks are filled without added CO2.  

Independent brewery.

Privatbrauerei Gaffel Becker & Co.
Eigelstein 41,
50668 Köln.
Tel. 0221 - 16 00 60
Fax 0221 - 16 00 61 96

Annual production: 360,000 hl (70% draught).

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Gaffel Kölsch Light 2.4% 11.2º Kölsch.  
Gaffel Kölsch 4.8% 11.2º Kölsch.  

Independent brewery.

Gaffel (Porz)
Weselerstr. 16,
51109 Köln-Porz.
Telefon 0221 - 211320

Annual production:

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Richmodis Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Bürger Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Very pale yellow colour with a dense white head: grass, resin and pepper aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with resin, pepper and butter aromas; bitterish finish with pepper, resin and wood aromas.
A fairly bog-standard Kölsch. Hoppy in an inoffensive way. (Bottled Version)
Tasted 15.06.2007.
Garde Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Very pale yellow colour with a dense white head: perfume, vanilla, and grass aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with citrus, grass and pepper aromas; bitterish finish with wood, grass and pepper aromas.
Does a very good impersonation of a Pils. Drinkable enough but without much character. (Bottled Version)
Tasted 13.06.2007.

The former Richmodis-Bräu brewery which since 1998 has been owned 100% by Gaffel.

Richmodis moved to a new brewery in Köln Porz in 1993.

Ganser Brauerei GmbH & Co. KG
Friedrich-Ebertstr 129,
51308 Leverkusen
Tel.: 0214/ 388 - 0
Fax.: 0214/ 388 - 81

Annual production: 200,000 hl

Independent brewery.

The brewery is still independent, but Ganser Kölsch is currently being brewed by Dom.

Brauhaus Zur Garde
Höhenberg 36,
41539 Dormagen.
Tel.: 02133 50861
Fax: 02133 50870

Closed. Owned by Gaffel, but the beers are brewed at the former Richmodis brewery in Köln-Porz.

Privatbrauerei Giesler

Brewery bought by Dom in 1999 and closed in 2001.

Hellers Brauhaus
Roonstr. 33
D-50674 Köln
Tel 0221 - 24 25 45
Fax 0221 - 23 92 00
Tel Brauhaus 0221 - 240 18 81

Founded: 1991
Annual production: 1,000 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Hellers Kölsch 4.5% 11.7º Kölsch.
Pale yellow colour with a fine-beaded head; tobacco, metal, dust and sock aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with tobacco, resin, pepper and cream aromas; bitter finish with pepper, resin, hop and tobacco aromas.
Ok, I suppose, though I didn't like the aroma much. At least there is a reasonable amount of bitterness.
Hellers Wiess 4.5% 11.7º An unfiltered version of the Kölsch.  
Hellers No. 33 Starkbier   13.5º Dark beer.  
Hellers Eurobock 6.5% 16.7º Pale Bock. Unfiltered.
Yellow colour with a dense white head; perfume, grass and dust aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with grass, peach, butter, and pine aromas; bitter finish with grass, wood, chicory and butter aromas.
Not a bad bittersweet Bock, with lots of pleasant hop flavours. Some might not appreciate the level of diacetyl, but it doesn't bother me.


Privatbrauerei Hintermeier (Huechelner Urstoff Brauhaus)
Aegidiusstr. 56,
50226 Frechen.
Tel.: 02234 52248
Fax: 02234 52248

Founded: 1750
Annual production: 10,000 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Stecken Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Bartmanns Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Hüchelner Urstoff 4.7%   Unfiltered, amber, top-fermented beer.  

Independent brewery.

Kölner Verbund Brauereien GmbH & Co.KG
Bergisch Gladbacher Str. 116 - 134
51065 Köln
Telefon (0221) 96 299-0

Annual production: 691,000 (2002)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Gilden Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Kurfürsten Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Kurfürsten Maximilian Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Küppers Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Römer Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Sester Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Peters Kölsch 4.8% 11.5º Kölsch.  
Giesler Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Sion Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Felskrone Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch. Previously brewed at the Hubertus Brauerei and Römer-Brauerei (both now closed). A cheap brand sold in supermarkets.  

Owned by Brau & Brunnen. The brewery is the former Bergische Löwen-Brauerei.

Owns Gilden, Sester, Sion, Küppers, Kurfürsten.

Brauerei zur Malzmühle
Heumarkt 6,
50667 Köln.
Telefon: 0221-210118

Founded: 1858
Annual production: 50,000 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Mühlen Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Very pale yellow colour with a dense white head: grass, wort, tobacco and coriander aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with honey, grass, pepper and cream aromas; bitter finsih with tobacco, grass, pepper and butter aromas.
One of the better Kölsches. Good hop flavours and just a touch of malty sweetness. A beautifully balanced and subtle beer.

Independent brewery.

Brauerei Päffgen GmbH
Friesenstraße 64 - 66
50670 Köln
Tel: 0221 / 135461
Fax : 0221 / 1392005

Founded: 1883
Annual production: 6,000 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Päffgen Kölsch 4.8% 11.8º Kölsch.
My personal favourite Kölsch. It has a wonderfully assertive hop character.


Pfaffen Brauerei Max Päffgen
Klasberg 2,
53797 Lohmar.
Tel. 02205 - 8 53 96
Fax 02205 - 89 97 88

Founded: 2001
Annual production:

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Pfaffen Bier 4.8%   Kölsch.
Pale yellow colour; tobacco, resin and hop aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with tobacco, milk and resin aromas; bitter finish with milk, tobacco and wet cardboard aromas.
Has a good aroma but a disappointing finish. The assertive hoppiness is obviosly meant to mimic Päffgen Kölsch. Pity about the cardboard taste at the end.

A family argument caused Max Päffgen, the grandson of the founder of Brauerei Päffgen, to set up his own brewery just outside Cologne. The beer is available at Brauereiausschanks zum Pfaffen - Max Päffgen, formerly Altstadt-Päffgen)

Peters & Bambeck Privatbrauerei GmbH & Co. KG
Krummstr. 30,
Tel: 02173 - 95550

Founded: *** CLOSED ***
Annual production: 30,000 hl (2005)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Peters Kölsch 4.8% 11.5º Kölsch.  
Giesler Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  

Independent brewery. The beers are now brewed by Kölner Verbund.

Privatbrauerei Heinrich Reissdorf GmbH & Co.
Emil-Hoffmann-Str. 4,
50996 Köln.
Telefon: 02236-96550

Founded: 1894
Annual production: 541,000 hl (2002)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Reissdorf Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Very pale yellow colour; grass, vanilla and tobacco aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with fruit, grass, butter and tobacco aromas; bitterish finish with grass, butter and tobacco aromas.
Quite a soft, delicately hoppy beer. Better than I expected. A bit of hop-extract aroma, but not enough to spoil it. Even has a definite top-fermented touch of fruitiness. (Bottled version tested.)

Independent brewery.

Brauerei Peter Schoppen GmbH

Markets Severins Kölsch (brewed by Sünner)

Gebr. Sünner Gmbh & Co. KG
Kalker Hauptstr. 260,
51103 Köln.
Telefon: 0221-98799-0

Founded: 1830
Annual production:

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Sünner Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.
Very pale yellow colour; grass, pepper and vegetable aroma; sweetish/bitterish taste with butter, tobacco and cardboard aromas; bitter finish with herbal, resin and hop aromas.
A subtle beer not helped by some underlying hop-extract nastiness. (Bottled version tasted)
Severins Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Sünner Hefeweizen     Unfiltered wheat beer.  

Independent brewery. It's been owned by members of the Sünner family since 1830. It was Sünner that brewed the first beer in the modern Kölsch style (though it wasn't called that then) around 1900.

Weissbräu zu Köln
Am Weidenbach 24/Pantaleonswall,
50676 Köln (Innenstadt).
Tel.: (0221) 231 823
Fax: (0221) 247 993

Founded: 1990
Annual production: 1,800 hl (2001)

Beer alc Plato Description score (100)
Kölsch 4.8%   Kölsch.  
Weizen 5.1%   Wheat beer.  
Schwarzbier 5.1%   Dark lager - Schwarzbier.  


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