Classic beer styles have been overlooked in the race towards hop-driven ales, said Balter Brewing’s Scott Hargrave as the company added a Pilsner to its range.
Balter Pilsner is hopped predominately with Spalt, the noble German variety, with Centennial and Hercules playing supporting roles, Hargrave told Australian Brews News.
But he said the water profile was just as important for the Pilsner, which is the third beer in Balter’s permanent range.
“I’ve basically got this thing called a ‘beer compass’, where I plot out what should be next,” he said.
“XPA is a hop-driven beer, then we tacked back to a malt-driven beer with the Alt Brown. The next thing I wanted to do was a beer based on one of the other elements – water.”
The soft water in the Czech Republic was integral to creating the signature rounded hop profile in Czech Pilsners, despite them being heavily hopped.
Harder water in Germany accentuated bitterness in its subsequent adaptation of the style.
“Every beer I brew, whether it’s on the big rig or the pilot, I tweak a different water profile for it, depending on what malts are going to do, what the mouthfeel should be, what style it is,” said Hargrave.
“If it’s a beer like this pilsner, it needs a certain amount of calcium, because it does so many good things in a beer. But not too much to make it too minerally or too dry,” he said.
“What the water was like was definitely a part of this beer for me, as much a consideration as [the hops and malt].
“If anything it’s much closer to a German Pils than a Czech Pils. It’s a bit drier – it has less of that Pilsner Urquel-style caramel maltiness to it.”
No sirens or flares
Hargrave said Pilsner may lack the “upfront wow factor” that attracts newcomers to craft beer, but it has its own unique appeal.
“When it’s made well, it’s magical in its own way, even if it doesn’t have sirens and flares going off,” he said.
At 4.9 per cent ABV and 32 IBU, the Pilsner has similar specifications to Balter’s flagship XPA.
“Yet the finishes in the beers are really different,” said Hargrave.
“Drink the Pils and then drink the XPA, and there’s just a vast contrast between that sort of measured, considered noble hop character and palate weight, versus the XPA, which is kind of a ‘tropical session IPA’, in another universe.
“BU-wise they’re very similar, but depending on your own palate and your genetic makeup, you might find the Pils is more bitter, or the XPA is more bitter. That’s really interesting to me,” he said.
Hargrave said it is worthwhile pouring the Pilsner into a glass in the first instance, but there is certainly no shame in drinking it straight from the can.
“Don’t pour them all into glass,” he instructs. “I really like even the way they hold up in a tin, it’s a pleasant drinking experience as well.
“I rarely tip our tinnies into glass these days. I do obviously when I want to have a look at them and see how they’ve been travelling… but there’s something heartwarming and human and primal about drinking a tinnie!”
Balter Pilsner will be available from February 1. You can find your nearest stockist by clicking here.