Aaron Schmalzle & Jared Witt l November 13, 2017
At Castle Church, we say, “If you showed up, you’re one of us,” and that was certainly the case this last Saturday as droves flooded east Orlando for our largest craft beer festival of the year.
CCBC upped the festival ante again this year, adding to our solar paneled beer trailer a wind turbine, which means we are not only harnessing (ironically) the hottest thing in the solar system but the power of the wind to chill and serve our beer on 100% green energy. The line at our station was so relentless, they went through our festival parameter beer supply in just three and a half of the five scheduled hours, as a few thousand of our closest friends lined up to hear our story, spin a wheel for a chance to win a Beer for Life memberships (we had a winner!), and more importantly than all of that, to taste our brews.
No, it wasn’t just our mobile Wonka factory for beer lovers that caused a buzz. It was also our special edition of Katie’s Kölsch, our reformation era reinvention. Connoisseurs will already know what a unique beer the modern day equivalent of this style is. Here is the crash course version, so you can grab a growler and impress your friends at the next dinner party: whereas there are generally two distinct types of yeast—those that ferment from the top of the batch at warmer temperatures, giving us complex flavored ales, and those that ferment from the bottom at colder temperatures giving us clean, crisp lagers—a kölsch uses a unique strand that top ferments at colder temperatures….an ale in lager clothes.
This gives it a storied place in German brewing heritage. Five hundred years ago, no one knew exactly what yeast were or how they (still quite) magically converted sugars to alcohol. All they knew was that, with enough prayer on the brewer’s part, there were beer styles that worked better in the moderate months and a few special ones that excelled in the colder winter months. Since ales normally ferment quickly at around 70°F, and lagers much slower at around 50°F, there’s a reason that modern brewing was essentially pioneered in the more temperate countries of northern Europe. But what about the transition seasons when the weather couldn’t be relied upon? Well on the first chilly day of fall, they would move the fermentation casks to the cellar just hoping that the batch would take, one way or the other. What they thought they were doing was hedging their bets. What they were unwittingly helping to evolve was the precursor to the kölsch strain of yeast.
Unlike the very clean, crisp modern version, which, in Germany, can only be legally brewed in the city limits of Cologne (Germans take their brewing very seriously, if you haven’t noticed), our medieval version simulates the slower and more natural temperature transition of their un-mechanized world, which would’ve given the ale yeast a bit longer to bring out more of the slight fruity undertones that certain ale yeast leave behind as well as a subtle tart finish(though nothing as strong as a modern sour beer), an effect of open air primary fermentation. So even experienced beer drinkers at OBF were satisfied with an experience they’d likely never had before.
While it was the brewery’s day to steal the show, hundreds more festival goers expressed interest in our unique spiritual formation groups.
Growing our community while nerding out on beer and history…Did we mention that we love our work?
Cheers and Peace,
Aaron and Jared
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