Release: Taut New Zealand Pilsner

North County's Bear Roots Brewing tapping new Southern-Hemisphere pils Friday

As part of our San Diego Homebrew Summer program, a dozen local breweries are producing recipes from local homebrewers at their breweries during the sunny season. The next to debut will be Taut, a pilsner hopped with New Zealand varietals. The recipe for the beer was developed by homebrewer Eli Palma. You may remember that name from last week when another of his recipes was brought to life on a pro level by Miramar operation, Embolden Beer Co. This time around, it’s North County’s Bear Roots Brewing that’s taking on one of his homebrew creations, tapping the beer at both of its Vista locations on Friday, July 30. Adjust your schedule to enjoy this hoppy pilsner while its at its freshest, but first, scroll down to find out about the brew day and techniques used to get four batches of beer out of a three-barrel brewhouse.

Taut | New Zealand Pilsner

Commentary from Bear Roots Brewing Head Brewer Ben Gardner

We had a great brew day. Eli has an inherent talent for brewing. Getting to know him and enjoying his style was by far my favorite part of the day. He instantly became a friend and kindred spirit. We really wanted this beer to be a faithful reproduction of Eli’s recipe, so I ordered everything ahead of time to match the recipe exactly; no swapping this for that. The only thing we could have used was well water from his parents’ spot out in East County.

We scaled his recipe up to a four-barrel size. The trick of it was we have a three-barrel system, so we had to brew three barrels, overshoot our gravity and top off with another barrel of water. The recipe was perfect and clean, and scaled up rather easily to that size. We didn’t have to limit rains in the mash tun and nailed it perfectly…a rarity on a first-time recipe. That serendipity really represented the whole brew day. Everything turned out just right, and it was relaxed and fun. It even landed on a day we had a bomb food truck and a killer band playing. Fantastic!

Q&A with homebrewer Eli Palma

What led you to submit this recipe for consideration?

I have been a fan of this style of pilsner for a long time. I tasted the style years ago while on vacation in New Zealand. It really hit that place between a refreshing, crisp lager and a dry, hoppy IPA with a distinctive, overt New Zealand fruitiness. I always envisioned trying to make a similar beer when I got back to the States. When BJCP (the Beer Judge Certification Program) finally added the NZ-style pilsner to its provisional styles, I felt compelled to make one to enter into homebrew competitions. It did well under the guidelines but I felt that sticking to the BJCP parameters made the beer less drinkable than the ones I had tasted in New Zealand, so I have tweaked the recipe several times since the original version. The latest rendition includes several big dry-hop charges and a different bittering hop. I hope people enjoy it as much as I do.

Did you learn anything when scaling the recipe up and brewing it with Bear Roots?

In my homebrewing, I have occasionally topped off the wort when I have mistakenly overshot the gravity by a few points. While brewing with Ben at Bear Roots, he purposely overshot the gravity to get an extra barrel out of this batch. He explained the process he uses and, after some rocket-science calculations, we miraculously hit our target gravity spot-on. I look forward to taking this approach to some future batches and, hopefully, be able to mimic Ben’s dilution skills.

Do you have any standout memories from the brew day?

Ben made me feel right at home at the Bear Roots facility. His easygoing style made it feel more like a fun homebrew session in a buddy’s backyard than an actual brewery. However, the hot-liquor plumbing, valve setup ad hose connections were somewhat daunting. Ben made it easy by showing me the way to use “penguin slides” to find the correct flow directions and configurations. Penguin slides will now be my go-to way of double-checking all my gears at home.

What are you most excited about with this collaboration?

I really enjoyed Bear Root’s brewpub environment. It’s a down-to-earth, friendly place where they have a familial bond with their customers. I had a great time hanging out and got a chance to try their awesome beers. During the brew day, saw Ben and [Lead Brewer Lu D’Hondt] engaged with everyone in the tasting room, answering all their brew questions without skipping a beat. Bear Roots’ “Loyalist” customers were really interested in what we were doing and looking forward to our collaboration. I am especially excited to share the finished product with them and, hopefully, gain their approval.

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