With warm weather approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, I figured I’d throw up a crisp and refreshing beer recipe. The New Zealand Pils is a newer style using the clean and crisp pilsner base, but it showcases the New Zealand hops giving it a very unique fruity finish. In this article, I’ll walk you through my simple New Zealand Pilsner BIAB recipe!
What is a New Zealand Pilsner?
Like the Catharina Sour, which I recently wrote an article about, the New Zealand Pilsner was one of the four provisional styles that were given a guideline by the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) in 2018. The other two were the Burton Ale (17A) and the ever popular, New England IPA (21B).
The New Zealand Pils is straw to deep gold in color, features neutral and clean fermentation characters from the yeast, and has dry and crisp mouthfeel. However, that mouthfeel is generally slightly less dry and crisp when compared to a classic German Pils. It is not uncommon for these beers to have a slight bready or crackery character from the malt.
What sets the New Zealand Pils apart from other pilsners/lagers is the showcasing of the New Zealand hop varieties, which tend to lend tropical, citrusy, melon, or most uniquely Sauvignon Blanc or lime characters!
The New Zealand Pilsner’s (X5) overall impression by the BJCP reads as follows, “A pale, dry, golden-colored, cleanly-fermented beer showcasing the characteristic tropical, citrusy, fruity, grassy New Zealand-type hops. Medium body, soft mouthfeel, and smooth palate and finish, with a neutral to bready malt base provide the support for this very drinkable, refreshing, hop-forward beer.”
How to Brew a Good New Zealand Pilsner
Start with a fairly soft water profile. You will want to use slightly more chloride than sulfate (Gypsum).
The grain bill is very simple for this beer. It should be composed of pale malt, preferably a large part being clean pilsner malt. A small amount of wheat within the grain bill is optional.
A clean lager yeast is preferred for this beer, but it does even state in the BJCP guideline that a very neutral ale yeast could suffice. You will get the cleanest pilsner through traditional cold lagering process. However, if you are short on time or do not have access to fermentation control, you could ‘pseudolager’ (ie warm lager) using a versatile lager yeast, such as Saflager W-34/70.
As noted above, the most prominent component of your beer should be the New Zealand hop characters. There are several different hop varieties to choose from. Below I will give the varieties of these hops that are available including characters these will lend.
New Zealand Hop Examples
Nelson Sauvin: Also known as Nelson Sauv, features prominent gooseberry and white-wine like aroma and flavor. Can be used as a dual-purpose (bittering and aroma) hop. Tropical fruit, lime, pine, and dill aroma/flavor also possible.
Motueka: Prominent lemon-lime characters. Can be used as a dual-purpose hop, but falls more on the ‘aroma’ end of the spectrum.
Pacific Jade: Mostly used as a bittering hop in these styles. However, it can lend a unique black pepper and citrus flavor and aroma when used late in the boil.
Riwaka: Very prominent passionfruit and grapefruit characters. Generally used as aroma hop.
Wai-iti: Peach and apricot notes. Low alpha, used as aroma hop.
Green Bullet: Used for bittering. Lends strong spicy and floral notes.
Kohatu: Solid dual-purpose hop that lends strong tropical fruit flavor and aroma.
Dr. Rudi: Intended to be a bittering hop, lends lemongrass and pine notes.
Rakau: Dual-purpose hop that lend very strong stone fruit flavors and aromas.
Moutere: Similar to Riwaka in lending passionfruit and grapefruit notes, but also sports prominent hay, spice, and pine aromas. Dual-purpose hop, leaning more to the bittering end of the spectrum.
Pacific Gem: Dual-purpose. Interesting combination of flavor/aroma including forest fruit (blackberries/blackcurrant), black pepper, and wood/oak notes.
Pacifica: Moderate alpha-acid, lends orange marmalade and delicate citrus notes.
Southern-Cross: Mainly a bittering hop. Citrus and pine flavor.
Taiheke: Dual-purpose. Tropical fruit flavor and aroma, most prominently grapefruit and lime.
Waimea: Mostly used as aroma hop, though has high alpha content (16-19%). Strong tangerine, orange, and pine needle aroma.
Some of these hops can be hard to acquire (even Amazon doesn’t stock some of them), but they are extremely worth using if you can find the ones you desire!
This recipe is for a 1 gallon BIAB batch. It can be scaled up as much as you need to for a larger BIAB or all-grain batch!
New Zealand Pilsner Recipe
Volume: 1 gallon (3.79L)
Predicted SRM 4.19
Predicted IBU 33.65
Original Gravity 1.053
Final Gravity 1.010
24oz (680.4 grams) American Pilsner
12oz (340.2 grams) American 2-Row
4oz (113.4 grams) American Wheat
0.2oz (5.7 grams) Motueka (30 minutes)
0.2oz (5.7 grams) Motueka (10 minutes)
0.2oz (5.7 grams) Motueka (Whirlpool)
Irish Moss (10 minutes)
Flagstaff Tap Water
1/16tsp (0.215 grams) CaCl
1mL Lactic Acid
Heat 4 quarts of strike water to 163°F (72.8C). Add brewing salts. Mill the grains and mix with strike water to reach a mash temperature of 154°F (67.8C). Adjust pH to 5.2. Hold mash temperature for 60 minutes. Sparge the grains with 170°F (76.7C) water until you reach a volume of 2 gallons (7.6L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, following the hop schedule. Add Irish moss at 10 minutes.
After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature. Can use traditional lagering technique or ‘pseudolager’ at room temperature. If pseudolagering, cool to about 66°F (18.9C). Aerate the wort and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 68-70°F (20-21.1C) for 2 weeks, then cold crash the beer to 35°F (1.7C). Bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes of CO2.
As noted above, there are more than a couple hops to choose from when brewing a New Zealand Pilsner. The beauty of this is that there is a fairly broad range of hop characters that fit into this style. The best NZ Pilsners that I have had feature very prominent passionfruit, lime, and white-wine notes that you don’t see all the time. Due to this, I try to shoot for hops that sport these qualities vs. the more standard citrus and pine combination.
A fun experiment would be to brew 3-4 batches side-by-side utilizing different hops in each batch to see what turns out best!
How to Warm Ferment Lager:
I did not have access to equipment to utilize a true controlled traditional lagering method with this beer. Instead, this beer was ‘warm-fermented’. Meaning that it was not fermented at standard lagering temperatures (45-55F), and instead fermented at room temperature of my house (about 65F). This method requires much less equipment, and I have had good results on several occasions using this method.
If you’re interested in learning more about the warm-fermented lager technique, click here! Some may call this a ‘pseudo-lager’, but I feel that as long as the quality of the end product is sound, that’s what matters most!
This method can also be useful in making a lager more quickly.
As this particular beer was warm fermented, it does not have the natural clarity advantage that traditional lagering provides. Time alone can do wonders for the clarity of a beer, but if you are looking for other agents- gelatin and Biofine Clear work well. However, keep in mind that if you are brewing a beer for any vegan or vegetarian consumers, gelatin will not fit the bill. Biofine Clear on the other hand is colloidal silicon dioxide and is vegan friendly.
With this particular beer, I used Biofine Clear first after cold crashing for 24 hours, and then two days later used gelatin with great results!
I wrote an article specifically about using fining agents to help clear your beer here!
Thank you so much for stopping by!
This style is such a satisfying and refreshing beer, especially in warmer weather. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Instagram or Facebook!
If you are interested in more information about brewing using the ‘brew-in-a-bag’ (BIAB) method, click here for my how-to!
For more small batch recipes like this one, click here.