From the Beer Writer: Pilsners are all the rage. Revered for their crisp, refreshing, stripped-down natures, they are the epitome of beer cleanliness when done right. That’s all well and good, especially in eternally-sunny San Diego, but when actual weather comes to town or the temperature drops, even the most pristine pils can leave a little something to be desired. Personally, from November to February, they leave me wanting more. Recently, I came across a pilsner that provides just that! University Heights’ Kairoa Brewing brewpub fashioned Back Paddock New Zealand-style Pilsner as a love letter from its Kiwi head brewer to his homeland. The beer looks, tastes and feels like a German-inspired pilsner, but with Southern Hemisphere hops adding some flavorful oomph, it feels more substantial and provides a supporting cast of citrus nuances to bolster the delightful yeast character that is this style’s calling card. As the New Year nears, I’ve been asked countless times for a recommendation on a beer that would make for a good champagne-toast alternative come midnight on December 31. To me, with its effervescence, lightness on the palate and next-level taste profile, Back Paddock is at the front of the local-beer list of answers to that query. Cheers!
From the Brewer: “A New Zealand-style pilsner was the first beer we wanted to make when we opened Kairoa. It’s a beer style I have spent a lot of time drinking, originally being from New Zealand and visiting every couple of years. On my most recent trip, I made it my mission to travel the country drinking pilsners in order to fully understand them and, in doing so, replicate what I believed to be an authentic version. I traveled as far south as Dunedin to drink the classic Emerson’s NZ Pilsner, and as far North as Auckland to drink Behemoth Brewery’s Hopped Up On Pils…and everywhere in between. Upon arriving back in the States, I started home-brewing various versions of a New Zealand pilsner until I felt like I had a recipe that was an accurate representation of the style. A New Zealand pilsner is more in the vein of a Northern German pilsner, in that it’s clean, crisp, dry and slightly hop-forward. We start with a grain bill of German pilsner malt and a tiny bit of acidulated malt in order to correct mash pH (potential hydrogen). We then hop with Wakatu and Motueka at various stages to bring forward a lemon-lime citrus character that makes this beer so refreshing. We ferment it dry with a German yeast strain and then lager for four weeks after fermentation is complete. This beer finishes clear despite being unfiltered. It is our best-selling beer and also our favorite beer to drink.”—Joe Peach, Head Brewer, Kairoa Brewing