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One of the largest international tool and hardware shows we attend annually is the "Internationale Eisenwarenmesse und DIY/TEC" – loosely translated as the "International Hardware Fair/DIY Show". Held in Cologne (Köln), Germany, the show attracts over 3800 exhibitors from 58 countries to display an astonishing array of tools, hardware, and building supplies.

While most famous for its twin-spire cathedral (the Dom – started in 1248 and completed in 1880), Köln is also known for its distinct beer – Kölsch, which is served in only "Kölsch glasses". Having extensively tested these glasses over a period of 20 years, we find their appearance and performance to be just right.

The Beer

Kölsch is both the dialect of the Cologne area and the name of its beer. Brewed only in the Cologne region, Kölsch beer must conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Act of 1516), which was ordered by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria. The act stipulates that the beer can be made with no ingredients other than hops, malt, yeast and water – to guarantee that only good, healthful beer is brewed in Germany.

The Glass

The pub breweries of Cologne adhere to age-old traditions by serving rounds of Kölsch beer in only special thin-walled, cylindrical glasses. Commonly available in two sizes, 200ml and 500ml (6.8 and 17 U.S. fl oz), they are called Stangen (rods). These are the champagne flutes of the beer world – tall, narrow and thin-walled. A thick bottom makes them both stable and sturdy, yet only half the weight of other glasses holding the same volume.

The Kölsch Experience

The Zappes (the tapper) fills each Stange with cold, lemon-golden, top-fermented beer drawn from a wooden cask placed on the bar counter. Because the narrow glasses are quick to fill, the keg tap is often left open with the Zappes deftly switching full glasses for empty ones, in an uninterrupted sequence for minutes at a time. The waiters, called Köbes, wear blue aprons and serve the slim beer-filled glasses from a custom-formed, crown-shaped tray (called a Kranz). Skilled waiters can carry (and dispense) dozens of glasses of Kölsch per trip.

Additional Protection

In 1985, all the brewers in the Cologne Brewers Association signed The Kölsch Convention – an agreement that outlines how and where Kölsch beer may be served and made.

In 1998, Kölsch beer joined top-class European products, such as Champagne and Chianti, in an exclusive group known as the "Protected European Regional Specialties".

Care and Maintenance

We recommend hand washing these fine drinking glasses with a long, cotton-tipped brush. They can be washed in a dishwasher, provided the glasses are handled with the same care as fine crystal or china.

Note: Although best filled with Kölsch beer, the glasses are suited to any tall, cool drink.

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