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Seven sozzled SOBA-ites (OK, we weren't that sozzled, and there were 8 of us by the end but that doesn't sound as good) gathered at Galbraiths on Saturday to explore what seems to have become a vexed question - what (if anything) is NZ Pilsner? I'd proposed the theme following a brief discussion with the guys at Croucher in Rotorua and it sparked off a heated debate on this forum - 11 pages of which I printed out and took along to the meeting.

We sampled the following beers, made notes on the key characteristics and scored them out of 10:
Galbraiths Bohemian Pilsner
Emerson's Organic Pilsner
Tuatara Pilsner
Three Boys Pils
Wigram Bavarian Pilsner
Pilsner Urquell (as a sylistic benchmark)

It was a fascinating experiment, and very enjoyable. Precisely what I'd been hoping for when I suggested these regular meetings. So what were our conclusions?
- if Pilsner Urquell is a benchmark for Pilsner, Galbraith's effort is closest to style.
- the other NZ brews are quite different from the style. They all exhibited (to a greater or lesser extent) a level of sweetness which was not found in the Urquell or Galbraiths.
- however, all of the brews exhibited the lingering hop bitterness in the aftertaste which seems to be a characteristic of the style. So all the beers seem to spring from a common heritage.

Certainly not a definitive result, but a fascinating exercise. In case you're interested, the scores on the doors (overall) were:
Emerson's 57
Three Boys 44
Galbraiths 40
Wigram 40
Urquell 39
Tuatara 38

Next meeting will be at The Shakespeare Tavern on Saturday 14th June at 2pm. Hopefully see you there.


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We had a excellent little gathering at Galbraiths on Saturday. I hope the others present will post their opinions and don't mind me jumping in?

Martin has posted the results of our tasting, as overall score based on everyone's mark out of 10.

We tasted: Galbraiths Bohemian Pils
Emerson Pilsener
Tuatara Classic Pilsener
Three Boys
Wigram pilsener
Pilsener Urquell (as a defining classic Czech style)

I remember the Emerson's was the favourite. The Urquell came in about middle. I thought this was quite significant, given it was the definition of the classic Pilsener style. IMO, I think this is quite worth noting because (as I stated at the meeting), our palate is not for the classic pilsener style. Which, in my opinion is why we are getting so much variation on the style.

I think we agreed that the Pilsener style had:

A light straw clour- EBC around 6+/-
was clear but a slight chill haze was acceptable. The 3 boys appeared to be bottle conditioned(?) and a couple of us had a very cloudy/ almost wheat beer clarity rating, which I think we all found to be a little off putting. Possibly the result of a bad pour from the bottle as not all had this.

In the Tuatara and the 3 boys there was not a strong aroma (if any). This didn't appear to be a factor. The favourites, including the Urquell had a definite aroma- citrus/hops/herb.

I think most of us agreed in a definite bitter aftertaste, in most. They all had different palates in the front. This proved there was no defining palate as far as this style was concerned, but a bitter aftertaste was definitely acceptable if not expected.

In conclusion: The Pilsner style had an EBC 6-8, was clear (slight chill haze acceptable), ABV 4.5-6%, aroma wasn't a defining factor, the palate depended on the brew but a varying level of bitterness is ok if not expected.

I don't know if this goes any further to defining our style or settling our debate? But we agreed that all the beers above were a pilsener in style. I think most were brewed with a saaz hop, but we could not tell if all had. Perhaps someone can clarify that for us?

I have uploaded a couple of photos of our gathering. I still have my marking sheets if anyone has any questions and I am sure the others have their own views.

We agreed to meet at The Shakespeare Tavern next month.

Thanks Martin.


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