Kölsch, Cologne’s beer. A tasty Pilsner-style beverage that’s light and crisp, easy to drink and served in fun, little glasses. The beer in Cologne.
If you read that last sentence in a joyful voice, beware. To many cities, beer is just a beer. But to Cologne, Kölsch might as well be the blood that keeps our city’s heart pumping. It’s a serious matter and not one to trifle with.
If you’ve been on our Brewery Tour or you’ve done a little research, it’s pretty easy to figure out what Kölsch is and where to find it, but finding the best one is a little trickier.
That’s why, not that long ago, we ran a poll in the city to figure out who brews the best Kölsch in the Cologne! We narrowed the list down to our favorites (and will even give you a few non-Kölsch options but if you tell anyone, we’ll say you’re lying). If you want to find out for yourself, there’s always this option…
Traditional Breweries in Cologne
Päffgen – Now while in our poll, Päffgen tied with our number two, we took an internal poll after and the results were clear: Päffgen is the best Kölsch in Cologne. It can only be found in Päffgen Brauhauses and a select few restaurants (and you can buy kegs if you’re up for the challenge).
Mühlen – As we mentioned, Mühlen finished a close second to Päffgen and there’s no shame there. Mühlen makes a delicious Kölsch, one worthy of American Presidents. This is the beer Clinton drank during the G8 Summit in Cologne. Well not during the summit… or maybe? Definitely at the brewery Malzmühle though!
Schreckenskrammer – The name more or less translates to Chamber of Horrors but the flavors don’t match. Schreckenskrammer is a historic Kölsch with some interesting history behind that name dating back to when Cologne still had executions! Yay!
Peters – In maybe the most beautiful Brauhaus in Cologne, you’ll find Peter’s. You can also find it in fun bottles with a pop top around the city! That helps when you can’t open bottles the German way – a.k.a. with absolutely anything available like lighters, sticks, edges, teeth, another bottle, very rarely bottle openers, etc.
Reissdorf – Probably the biggest beer on our list, Reissdorf is everything you’d want from a Kölsch; Easy to find, good on flavor, easy to drink, and historic. Not a bad combo.
For people who don’t want Kölsch all the time!
Zappes – This new Pilsner starting popping up all over the city right around the pandemic and still managed to grow in popularity and production. That alone is a testament to its quality. They have great bars too!
Hellers – Hellers also has Kölsch and it actually did very well in our poll but we moved it down here because it actually serves a wide variety of delicious beers that you’ll struggle to find in most local breweries because, you guessed it, they only serve Kölsch.
Braustelle – This is a tiny place but has some of the most creative brewing in the city. Braustelle sits in Ehrenfeld, serves great food, and even better beer. Check out anything they have on tap. Craft didn’t make much of mark on the beer scene in Germany but we’re very happy it left something here.