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Slip Pils is a 5.2% German Style Pilsner that tips its foamy white hat to consummate Californian brewery, Firestone Walker's Pivo Hoppy Pils.

Fork Brewing brewer, Kelly Ryan, says there are some styles of beer that are, for him, the Holy Grail in terms of brewing and drinking. In particular, perfectly crafted Pilseners and Saisons.

"In the past few years, I've managed to get to Denver and to Philadelphia as part of World Beer Cup judging," he says.

"It's always great heading to the States and being inspired by some of their fantastic beers and breweries. Due to the huge amount of beers to taste in such a short window, it's not often that I will try the same beer more than once or twice.

"There are, however, exceptions, and the two exceptions have been Firestone Walker's Pivo Hoppy Pils and Victory Brewing's Prima Pils.

"These are beers I found myself coming back to again and again. Super-clean, amazing drinkability, a combination of sweetness and dryness and the most incredibly delightful German hop characters ‚Äď full of lemon zest, subtle herbaceousness and wonderfully perfumed floral aromatics."

Kelly says Slip Pils is more of a nod to Firestone's Pivo Hoppy Pils, especially because he's a big fan of the Saphir hop and wanted to see if he could get its fantastic aroma into this Pilsener.

"I'm a little limited with my plant in terms of my mashing regime and modifying temperatures in the mash tun and I had read that Firestone Walker's Head Brewer, Matt Brynildson, utilises a few tricks to really maximise attenuation of this beer."

In other words, Matt does a few magical, wort wizardry spells to make sure that when all of the sugars ferment out of the beer, it ends up with a really dry and clean finish.

"So I lowered my mash temperature for starters and put in a little extra yeast than usual and ended up with a beer that finished at a Gravity of 1.008. Nice and dry, just like I wanted! I love it when science/magic works," says Kelly.

A German friend of Kelly's, Albrecht, had just imported a bunch of fresh hop pellets from his homeland and Kelly picked up a good variety to trial with.

"I'm a massive fan of a hop called Perle, which gives a lovely floral/herbal bitterness and flavor and also the rich, oily, lemon zesty Saphir, so it was with this combination that I dosed the Pils up with.

"I went heavy on the late hop addition to really boost the aromatics and it has also resulted in a wonderful impression of perfumed sweetness, even though the beer finished with less residual sugar than is normal.

"These hops were coupled with German Pilsener malt from Weyermann, which is wonderfully clean with a very subtle bready/doughy."

Kelly says the key to a good Pils for him is excellent drinkability.

"I just had an Emerson's Pilsener recently and had almost finished the glass without even realising I had. It was remarkably quenching, crisp and aromatic, with just enough bitterness to maximise the drinking experience.

"If I can achieve something close to this with this beer, than I'll be a very happy brewer!"

With several tasters recently heard to exclaim over some sneak-peek previews of Slip Pils that they could drink this Pilsener all day long, Kelly should count himself a very happy brewer, indeed. 

Slip Pils is debuting on tap at Fork & Brewer this Wednesday! 

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Slip Pils German Style Pilsener Tasting Notes

Flavour: Initial malt sweetness balanced by a light noble hop bitterness. Smooth with good dryness and floral.

Aroma: Dominated by lemon-spice with hints of thyme honey and promises of subtle perfumed sweetness.

Look: Straw-yellow with a bright, white head.

Hops: German Perle and German Saphir.

Malt: German Pilsener Malt.

Yeast: Fork House Strain ‚Äď Cool fermented, 5 weeks lagering.

ABV: 5.2%

IBU: 28

Yellow was the inspiration behind The Upside Down, a 6.7% Soured Fruited Witbier, in a collaboration that spanned oceans, time zones and hemispheres, between Fork Brewing and Magic Rock Brewing in the UK for the Rainbow Project 2016.

You may have heard of the Rainbow Project, and if not, take a posse whilst we fill you in. This annual UK-based brew-a-thon pairs seven UK breweries with seven international breweries, with the intention of joining international brewing communities together and promoting great beer.

The brainchild of ex-Siren brewer, Ryan Witter-Merithew, each brewery pairing draws a colour of the rainbow at random and uses that colour as inspiration for their brew. Over the last couple of years, the Rainbow Project has seen some amazing beers created, some great events and a chance for brewers to work with some of their cross-global brewing spirit animals.

The Rainbow Project 2016 saw UK brewers paired with seven of New Zealand's best young breweries, and Fork Brewing was paired with Magic Rock Brewing, located in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

"It's pretty cool to be paired up with Magic Rock. We're lucky here in NZ to have a bit of their beer come in every now and then through Beertique, and as their brewery expands, I'm sure we'll see a lot more!" says Kelly.

"I brewed over in the UK for a number of years and lived just out of Sheffield, working at a brewery in the Peak District called Thornbridge. Whilst there, I met a young(ish) brewer by the name of Stuart Ross, who was a great brewer and always a good laugh. One of my favourite ever beer and food pairing videos is of him looking at the camera, eating a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich and knocking back a pint of his beer. No words. The ultimate!

"Stu went on to be the original head brewer at Magic Rock Brewery. Richard Burhouse, who started the brewery, I also knew from my time in England, so to conjure up a recipe with the Magic Rock crew was extra special.

"With The Rainbow Project, every pair of brewers get given a random colour of the rainbow and we got Yellow! Not too much of a novelty, as many beers are yellow, so we had to think outside of the hat!"

Kelly got to working with Magic Rock Production Manager and Lead Brewer, Nick Zeigler, and beginning the mystic art of developing a Yellow brew.

It happened to be fortuitous timing that Nick and Kelly were able to met up at this year's World Beer Cup in Philadelphia to put their heads together and brain spawn a beer yellow and delicious. After the standard downtime of deliberation, they settled on a kettle-soured, tropically fruity, Wit hybrid with a couple interesting twists.

"The cool thing about Fork is I have a nice little nanobrewery and do lots of small batches as either trials or one-off beers that we put on the bar at Fork & Brewer," says Kelly.

"After discussion with Nick, we started narrowing down possible ingredients that provided us with yellow inspiration: chamomile, coriander seeds, turmeric, annatto seeds, pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, lemons, etc. We threw out heaps of ideas and concepts and a recipe began to take shape."

Back in NZ, Kelly started trialling Yellow-themed beers on his small batch brew kit: Roots & Fruits, a Turmeric and Grapefruit Witbier; Bem & Gose, a Salted Mango-infused Gose; and of course, he had extensive knowledge of brewing Fork's big batch in-house yellow beer, Tainted Love, a Passion fruit & Juniper Sour Ale.

"Brewing these beers gave me an understanding of the possible ingredients that we would be using, and Nick and I continued to bounce ideas back and forth until we came up with a recipe," he says.

Nick worked on the grist (the grains used in the brew) and came up with a wonderful fruity combination of hops that would accentuate the fruit and spices used in the brew. Big, passion fruit and raspberry Mosaic, the wonderfully tropical Citra and the lemon and lime notes of Equinox would work perfectly with liberal dosings of pureed mangoes and passionfruit juice, with the spices adding a subtle background hint of citrus, white pepper and ginger.

The brew was based around the kettle souring process, and the decision was made to sour to a slightly higher pH with our Lactic Acid Bacteria strains (around pH 3.4-3.6).

A big late addition of hops was used in the brew house and the fermentation used a yeast once known as Brettanomyces bruxellensis, that has now been reclassified as Saccharomyces bruxellensis Trois. This strain is massively fruity, throwing off big tropical notes - perfect for this brew.

"I used some amazing Australian Kensington Mangoes that were intensely sweet and aromatic, even throwing off a little spicy note themselves!" says Kelly.

"The passion fruit juice was the same type that I use in Tainted Love, nice and tart with a clean sweetness and wonderful aromatics. These were both added part way through the fermentation, so that the yeast could ferment out the natural sugars present in the fruit and add to the lovely, tart, sweet-sour finish."

"After bumping a few ideas around between us we settled on a Stranger Things-influenced name (watch it already, if you haven't!), which we thought, considering the relative geography of the breweries, worked well!"

The Upside Down will be launched in the UK alongside the other six Rainbow beers at various Rainbow Project events on 17 September.

Our first Fork Brewing release post the heady days of Beervana, sees the release of Alternative 5.8% Germanic Pale Ale, a closet hybrid beer style, which exclusively trials a brand new malt variety from Gladfield Malt.

This Pale Ale is a bit of a hybrid, moonlighting between the North German/Dusseldorf-style Altbier (using fresh German hops) and a great English drinking beer called Extra Special Bitter (or ESB).

Rich and malty without being oversweet, Alternative has wonderful fruit characteristics, bursting with citrus goodness.

It also has the honour of trialling Gladfield Malt's new variety of malt (as yet unnamed, but identified by the codename, "Gabriella"), which imparts caramel flavours to the beer without the sweetness, giving an alternative option to balance the beer without sacrificing flavours.

Kelly was approached by Gladfield to trial this new malt in one of his brews, and give Gladfield a bit of feedback on how it performs in a brew. (He's the only brewer in the North Island to have brewed a beer using this new malt, so you can say you first supped it here.)  

He wanted to create a bit of a hybrid between the North German/Dusseldorf-style Alter (influenced by the German hops) and an English drinking beer called Extra Special Bitter or ESB (influenced by the trial malt).

"A few months back, a friend of mine, Albrecht, got in touch and said he was looking at bringing in some fresh German hops from his homeland. I was keen as, so I ordered a small mixture of different varieties to have a little play with in the brewery, and I thought it would be perfect to use in an Altbier" says Kelly. 

"Altbier is traditionally brewed with a top-fermenting yeast, often referred to by some brewers as an 'ale strain' and then lagered (or cool conditioned) for an extended period of time to allow the beer to develop, mature and improve flavour-wise.

"A favourite English beer of mine is Fuller's ESB from the Chiswick brewery in London. It is a little lower in alcohol in its cask form, at around 5.5%, but shoots up to 5.9% in its bottle and keg formats.

It is rich and malty without being oversweet and has wonderful fruit characteristics, bursting with citrus goodness. I wanted to give a little nod to this beer - in particular its wonderful interplay between malt and marmalade. With that in mind, I thought it would be great to trial a new malt variety from Gladfield in the brew.¬Ē

The colour of the malt is 140 EBC and Kel says it reminds him a lot of both caramalt and biscuit malt, with a lovely biscuit richness and, surprisingly, little sweetness that he often associates with the crystal malts.

"I'm super stoked as to how it has performed in this beer, especially as I am not a big fan of English Bitters that have a huge, rich crystal malt intensity," says Kelly.

"It's cool hybridising beer styles, especially when there is a goal in mind. When it all comes together and results in a delicious beer, something that isn't made a load here in NZ, it's particularly awesome."

Lastly, this Altbier/ESB hybrid took its inspiration from one of the locals who regularly frequented the Thornbridge pub Kelly lived above, when he worked and brewed in England.

"He had spent some time in the armed forces with a stint in Germany, and had a huge soft spot for Altbier as it reminded him of his favourite Ward's Bitter from Sheffield in Yorkshire, and would constantly talk about how similar the styles were," says Kelly.  

"Tim lost a brief battle with cancer this year, so I'm definitely going to be raising a glass of this to him on its launch night."

Be warned: many puns were harmed in the making of this beer.

Puns N' Goses 3.7% German Sour Wheat - or a "Gose" to the initiated beer pundit - was the source of much word play, thanks to a new beer style for Kelly to brew, over-worked in-house punny heads, and a Facebook competition.

Simcoe is one of those hop varieties that's distinctly American. It throws off a complex aromatic profile that focuses on pine needles, the peel of preserved lemons and the faintest herbal, woody hint of a freshly cut conifer branch. Underneath that it can even hint at ripe mango skin and the faintest aroma of banana passionfruit. It is one of the hop megastars.
 
With some fresh season hops in store, Kelly says it made sense for him to use these and let the variety shine in Simcode 7% American Strong Pilsener, released this Wednesday in a double launch at Fork & Brewer and Malthouse.
 
"I chose to go for a S.M.A.S.H. (Single Malt and Single Hop) approach and used New Zealand grown Pilsener malt as the base for the brew.
 
"I aimed for around 40-45 IBU to help balance any malt and alcohol sweetness and let my house yeast strain ferment long and cool to give as clean and crisp a flavor profile as possible," says Kelly.
 
This brew also took a little inspiration from The Flower Arranger, Fork's West Coast IPA. 
 
"I love the clean, light malt bill that this beer has and the thought of emulating this in a Pilsener-style definitely interested me. 
 
"Fantastic American-brewed Pilseners such as Victory Prima Pils and Firestone Walker Hoppy Pivo Pils also were inspirations. The intensity of their aromatics, the balance and incredible drinkability draws me to these beers again and again. For me, they epitomise the true session."
 
A little bit of #Brewjesus beer geek research drew him to the American Pre-Prohibition Pilseners. 
 
"These usually topped out around 6% alcohol, but were characterised by quite a clean malt base, and medium-high hop bitterness and flavour/aroma intensity. I've gone a little stronger on my take, so this is more of a 'savour' than 'session' experience.
 
"It's funny really that after just returning from the US, the highlight of the trip was actually a Pilsener (the aforementioned Victory Prima Pils). 
 
"It's the Holy Grail of brewing for me, to make the finest Pilsener that I can. If I can come close to perfecting this beer style, I'll be the happiest brewer ever."
 
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Simcode American Strong Pilsener Tasting Notes
 
Taste: Rich malt backbone with wisps of honey and wine biscuit. Smooth alcohol sweetness balanced by a clean, herbal hop bitterness. Pine wood and citrus.
 
Aroma: Burnished gold with a white head
 
Look: Subtle tropical fruit, lemon zest and a faint hint of conifer branches.
 
Hops: Simcoe
 
Malt: Pilsener
  
Yeast: House Strain, Cool Fermented
 
ABV: 7%
 
IBU: 40-45
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 11:13

Fork Brewing Judges at World Beer Cup

It's drawn both parallels to the Olympics and been accused of being a thinly disguised work jolly in the media, but the annual World Beer Cup is seriously intense stuff. 

This week, Kelly and Colin are judging at the 20th annual World Beer Cup taking place in Philadelphia, USA.

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