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Belt’s Beer Garden: Come a Little Kolscher

Burial’s Billows - an amazing dry-hopped Kolsch

With so many great breweries out there today, I try not to share beers from same breweries on here too often. But sometimes a brewery just makes some damn good beer and it needs to be shared. So despite Burial Beer being featured on here earlier this year, I had to give them another shout out this weekend and showcase another one of their brews.

The Asheville, North Carolina brewery, which opened back in 2013, now has four locations in the Tar Heel State - two in their hometown of Asheville, one in Raleigh, and another in Charlotte. And since their humble beginnings on a 1-barrel system, they have exploded into a craft beer giant. Burial was even named Craft Beer & Brewing’s Readers Choice #1 Small Brewery in the World in 2021 and #1 Small Regional Brewery in the World the very next year.

While they are most known for their killer IPAs, today I ventured off and tried one of their lighter options - Billows. This Kölsch starts with a base of flaked wheat and Pilsner malt before they dry-hopped it with Grungeist, Hallertau Blanc, and Simcoe hops for a nice finishing touch. It has a 4.9% ABV and each can cost $6 but...it should be worth it, as it is rated as one of the best Kölschs in the world on both BeerAdvocate (31st highest rated) and Untappd (27th highest rated).

Billows poured a somewhat murky golden straw color that was more translucent towards the bottom of the glass. Just over a finger of fluffy eggshell white heat topped it off. The dense foam took some time to dissipate and, when it finally did, it left some nice lacing along the side of the glass.

The aroma was that of flaked grains and light hops. The most prevalent smell was that of flaked wheat and Pilsner malt, which gave off some bready and cereal qualities. The hoppy qualities, while underneath the grist, were still quite easy to find. There were some notes of citrus and tropical fruits and a dash of pithy grapefruit that sat just underneath the malt.

Each sip begins with a flash of carbonation and a very light and crisp body. Unlike with the aroma, the hops hit first in the flavor.

There is an immediate punch of tangerine and lemon, giving the brew a nice and sweet start. Billows is actually quite juicy for the first few moments, with those citrusy notes really popping.

But a moment or two later it’s the grains that kick in and add some breadiness, with the flaked wheat taking the top spot in the flavor. There’s a bit of sweet honey coming from the malt as well that pairs really well with the remaining juicy hops.

Soon after though, the hops reclaim their top spot in the taste with a late push of grapefruit rind and some big herbal qualities. A surprising lemongrass quality appears and takes over the last moments of each sip. It’s a wonderful finishing characteristic that lingered for a few moments after everything else and did bring a dash of dryness to the end.

Outside of that tiny dry feeling, Billows ends super cleanly. It’s insanely crushable and very refreshing. Burial absolutely nailed this dry-hopped Kölsch.

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