In about a week, our flagship beer will begin hitting bars and restaurants. Red Kolsch is a cross between an Irish red and a German kolsch, with a ruby-red color and super-smooth flavor. Malt-balanced, this beer showcases pilsner malt flavor but with a very light chocolate and caramel finish.
Picking a flagship beer was no easy task. At Crooked Run, we have had over 30 different beers on tap since we opened, and many people have real favorites that they have told me they would love to see on tap elsewhere. So how do you pick a flagship? For most breweries, the vast majority of the beer they distribute are their flagship brands. These beers need to be either approachable, popular, or both. Having strong flagship brands helps give you the freedom to experiment with other beers, barrel-aging, and sour programs, which is something that I really would like to get into on a larger scale.
It is my hope that Red Kolsch will be a great flagship because of several reasons. First, it is a beer no one dislikes. It is light, but flavorful, so it has been a big hit with casual beer drinkers and people who generally go for heavier styles. Second, kolsch is a style that has been very popular in Virginia. We even hold an annual Kolsch Cup. Normally, I would be hesitant to try to sell an esoteric European style to bars. Other breweries feel the same way, which is why you don’t see a lot of approachable-yet-unfamiliar styles such as altbier or patersbier as brewery flagships. However, kolsch has become a familiar style to people. I’ve noticed no one mispronounces it! Lastly, we offer Red Kolsch on nitro as well. I enjoy both serving methods, but nitro Red Kolsch is like drinking red velvet. The good news is that after meeting with many bar managers, a lot of folks are looking to replace Guinness with another nitro offering, and have expressed a great deal of interest in this beer. Working with Beltway Brewing in Sterling, we produced 60 barrels of Red Kolsch for distribution in the DMV area. I will also have sixtel and half-barrel kegs available for sale to brewery customers as well, so if you’re looking for a beer for your party that everyone will enjoy, come on in!