A Lager-ish in its natural habitat: Great Heights Brewing Company.

The kolsch is arguably the perfect summer beer. Brewed like an ale but conditioned like a lager, it has a lot going on but comes off pretty effortlessly. It has a slightly sweet, fruity taste, and yet drinks crisp and clean with little to no bitterness. You can have multiple on a warm day.

It’s also a great beer for those who don’t want something totally clean like a pilsner, but also don’t want to get smacked with bitterness, big juices, and herbal flavors.

Great Heights, who has been really knocking IPAs out of the park recently, has a standby kolsch, and it’s appropriately titled Lager-ish. It stays relatively true to the defined style, though there are a few tweaks along the way. But in the end, it’s like a lot of Great Heights’ offerings: easy to drink and not taking itself too seriously.

Settling gold with a moderate white head, it looks like a lager and, moreover, a welcoming treat on a summer day. Smelling it, I get a malty punch of caramel, which feels a bit more aggressive than what I’d typically expect out of a kolsch.

The aggressiveness continues after tasting it, as Lager-ish is malty up front with just a bit of a biscuity, bready backbone. Hints of lemon, or at least something acidic, come through, too, which is a fun discovery. No bitterness here, which I’m not missing.

So in the end, it’s a little too sweet, but otherwise totally enjoyable with a little surprise. This isn’t a definitive kolsch or anything, but it’s a fine option when it’s a bit warmer outside.  

Rating: 6.1/10

Explanation of ratings: 9.5-10: as good as the best beer in America; 9-9.4: the best beer in Houston; 8-8.9: among the better beers in Houston; 7-7.9: really good beer; 6-6.9: try this beer at least once; 5-5.9: if you’re stuck, this won’t hurt; 3-4.9: among the lowest-quality beers in Houston; 0-2.9: as bad as the worst beer in America.

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