From the Beer Writer: One of the things I enjoy most about North Park Beer Co. is that it’s a place for people who genuinely enjoy a variety of styles made to style. Sure, the house IPA has plenty of punch, but even it exhibits the great balance that is the trademark of owner and brewmaster Kelsey McNair‘s ales and lagers. It’s beers like these—session and mid-level strength brews that are flavorful and easy-drinking—that will convert more people to the glories of finely crafted brews. Primed for accomplishing that on the Pilsner front is North Park Bird Park, a Bohemian-style Pils that goes down easier than most local takes on the style, which often end with a sharp, almost biting sensation. While classic Czech Pilsner flavors of herb and earth are all present, newcomers to craft will not be challenged by a slap-in-the-throat finish, making Bird Park a fine candidate to become many future craft-beer drinkers’ “breakthrough beer”. Of course, if you’re already into craft, as well as Pilsners, you will be able to appreciate it for its light body, cohesive layers of flavor and the great deal of thought that went into its composition. For that, I’ll turn it over to its creator.
From the Brewer: “To me, there’s nothing like a well made Bohemian-style Pilsner. Moonlight Brewing‘s Reality Czech is my favorite version and easily one of my top-ten beers. Anytime I travel to the Bay Area, I make it a point to drink a lot of that beer. Several years ago, owner and brewer Brian Hunt of Moonlight was at The Linkery for an event where several of his beers were featured. I happened upon a seat next to him at the bar and struck up a conversation. As a then-avid homebrewer, I hoped to get some recipe nuggets from him so that I could take a stab at making my own version of the style. He went into this long rant: ‘In order to brew this style, first you need to go to Prague and drink as much Pilsner as you can. You have to understand it that way.’ I walked away from this conversation without any new knowledge about his recipe or procedures. I generally never aimed to clone beers as a homebrewer, I would just get inspired by commercial beers and make my own recipes. Some Internet sleuthing told me that Reality Czech used Perle hops, so I figured I’d include them in my pils, too, as an homage to this superb Pilsner. But, I never made it to Prague and I never actually ended up brewing a Bohemian Pilsner as a homebrewer. Fast forward to now, I finally put the recipe together and just went for it. For our version, we used German Pilsner malt and some Melanoidin Malt to add some malt richness and body. We kept the water profile balanced and very soft. We hopped it with the classic Czech Saaz and also German Perle. We borrowed some lager yeast from the local lager master in town, Doug Hasker of Gordon Biersch, and fermented it low and slow to make sure the beer turned out as clean as possible. The result? An impeccably clean Pilsner with lovely nuances of bready malts and spicy, floral hops that has a firm, well-integrated bitterness. The body is medium-full and the finish is snappy, dry and refreshing. With the temperature on the rise, Bird Park is the perfect beer for your backyard barbecue or a day at the park.”—Kelsey McNair, Owner & Brewmaster, North Park Beer Company