I've never had a Kölsch before. As someone who has obsessed over most things fermented for a few years this thought shocked me when it occurred to me a few weeks back as I idled before the considerable beer fridge in Bradley's. Something needed to be set right.
The ubiquitous imported Kölsch is of course Früh Kölsch, so that seemed the sensible place to start. As a devotee of German, particularly Bavarian lager, I was eager to see if a bottom fermented beer from Köln could scratch that same itch.
It looks like it can; crystal clear and pale gold is how it appears before me, while the nose gets a surprisingly thoughtful hop treatment - all leafy, herbal and fresh cut grass. Hearty lager malt and light citrus fills in the blanks.
A chewy maltiness opens the palate, with golden syrup, biscuit, clean grain and straw and just a tickle of floral back-of-the-mouth bitterness wrapping up.
It's clean, perhaps not squeakily so, but ridiculously smooth and as satisfying to drink as any Helles.
Less clean is Holzar Bier from Hirschbräu, a wildcard purchase made in Kinsale some time later. Clear copper and with a big, slightly off-white head, I'm instantly intrigued. The aroma is quiet, almost silent, only making brief suggestions of Vienna malt and a touch of some grassy highlights.
To taste it's instant gratification, because I've just been confronted with a round, hearty, malty, chewy flipper of a lager. Toffee and raisin make it more dunkel than Vienna while the purely functional, balancing bitterness pulls it back.
I'm always happy to find a maltylager with heft so this one goes down as a successful punt.
Sometimes really simple beer can be really simply satisfying. Both of these eminently drinkable beers may not impress someone looking for the bizarre and the bold, but they've left boxes well and truly ticked for me.