How many Kölsch breweries are there?

Kölsch is “one of the most strictly defined beer styles in Germany” according to Wikipedia. Use of the term Kölsch is governed by the Kölner Brauerei Verband (Cologne Brewers Association) through the Kölsch-Konvention and the EU’s Protected Geographic Indication legislation.

I’m writing an article about Kölsch, and I want to explain the rules that control the use of the name. And I want to illustrate this by telling the readers how many breweries may legally call their beer Kölsch. (Ignoring those outside the EU, which use the term with impunity.) It’s not many, and I’m hoping that the small number will be telling. Given all the rules in place, it ought to be fairly simple to figure out how many there are. But it’s not.

I interviewed a brewer in Cologne recently (5 May 2020). He told me there are eight Kölsch breweries. But he meant only those within Cologne itself, and I know the Kölsch-Konvention allows for an unspecified number of breweries in neighbouring towns and cities to also use the term. Plus he was speaking off the cuff so may not have been 100% accurate.

Time to check other sources for corroberation.

Checking a first-hand source

The Kölner Brauerei Verband website lists nine Kölsch breweries.

That should be an easy answer straight from the horse’s mouth. But another page on the site has many references to “today” being 1990, which doesn’t inspire confidence that the site has been updated anytime in the last 30 years! Elsewhere on the site an image celebrates 300 years of Kölsch brewing. This anniversary happened in 1996. Oh dear. On the other hand, the press archive goes up to February 2020, which seems more promising.

Still, it seems like it might be a good idea to keep on investigating.

Checking secondary sources

English Wikipedia has this to say on the matter.

Currently thirteen breweries in and around Cologne meet this convention, anchored by Früh, Gaffel, Reissdorf and Kölner Verbund [de]. Smaller brewers include Mühlen-Kölsch and Bischoff-Kölsch [de].


The page was last edited on 29 March 2020, at 22:57 (UTC). It doesn’t list the thirteen breweries.

Meanwhile, German Wikipedia, last edited on 13 April 2020 at 16:31, says this:

Insgesamt brauen elf Brauereien in Deutschland Kölsch.


In case you don’t speak German, that means: in all, eleven breweries brew Kölsch in Germany. The page also goes on to list them, which is helpful. They are:

But now I’m scratching my head. It seems the total is either 8, 9, 11 or 13 breweries… Any advance on 13?

And so, a request

I’m inclined to go with the German Wikipedia figure of 11. But can anyone corroborate one of these sources? Or, failing that, point me to a definite answer that I haven’t yet found? Please let me know in the comments!

My new book, Gin A Tasting Course, is “a flavour-led approach to the world of gin” featuring over 100 gins reviewed and grouped by flavour profile. It’s published by DK and available in all good bookshops, or you can order a copy online »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.