It’s a blisteringly cold night in January. There’s a cold weather warning in effect and the “feels like” temperature is plummeting as the sun sets. Surely, tonight would be suited to drinking something imperial-strength like a Fake News, Star Beast, Woland, or perhaps our new butt-kicking Rauchbier. But alas, here I am sitting in front of the computer imbibing in the crispest, most refreshing DMC beer to date and trying to think of the best way to tell you all how we’ve let you down. Yes, that’s right. We brewed a Pilsner.
Now, I know there’s probably a host of folks ready to post our faces all over /r/HypocriticalBrewers for our disparaging anti-Pils stance in the past, but just indulge me for a few minutes as we dive down the rabbit hole together. For those who are unaware of our history with this much-maligned beer style, in October 2018 we ran a tiny number of DMC branded t-shirts that boldly claimed
I’M REALLY INTO PILSNERS.
SAID NO ONE EVER.
Some laughed. Some cried. Some rage-unfollowed us for slamming their favorite beer style. Some got really mad at us for slamming ANY beer style at all. And that’s cool – we’re happy people stood up for what they believed in. Anyone who knows us, though, knows that we don’t take ourselves very seriously and we’re happy to be the brunt of any joke as long as people are laughing.
So there you are, you’re all caught up to speed as to why we’re not so popular in Regina. What you don’t know, though, is that when we conceived the t-shirt… after all the juvenile giggling and patting each other on the back and laughing about how clever we were subsided, there was a moment of dénouement as is typical in the aftermath of every great joke. In that moment of silence, we looked at each other and said
“You know, of course, that we’re going to have to make a Pilsner now.”
We kind of obsessed over it ever since. We were always going to make a Pilsner, but we really did call down the thunder on ourselves to make sure we got it right. More so than ever, we would have to ‘brew it to 11’. But how does one brew a Pilsner to 11, anyway? Well, we put pen to paper on a recipe to figure that out, and this is the Crispy Boi that we came up with.
Introducing: Brightwater New Zealand Pilsner
Right away we knew we needed to make this beer super-special, something that hasn’t been done very often around these parts. As we scoured for Pilsner styles across the globe, New Zealand’s famed local style was the obvious outlier. New Zealand-grown hops are some of the most prized, sought-after hops on the market as they offer a completely unique set of characteristics. So we would choose NZ hops to bring subtle qualities of white wine, tropical fruit, and lime zest to the party – Motueka, Nelson Sauvin, and Wakatu.
How do you up the malt game for a beer that’s 99% pilsner malt? You go to a craft maltster, of course, and seek out the finest pilsner grown on the Canadian prairies. We selected pure prairie pilsner malt from our provincial neighbours Maker’s Malt in Rosthern, SK. These folks are a delight to work with and know their product inside-and-out. With each sip of Brightwater you can taste the prairie terroir and minerality highlighted by the ultra-clean profile. Really, this is the backbone upon which this beer is built.
Where there’s malt, there must be yeast – so that’s our last stop in our trifecta. And from a historical standpoint, maybe this is the most exciting part of brewing Brightwater. Modern brewers select from one of a select few lager yeast strains to ferment various styles of lager. Some are more popular than others, but they really fall pretty near to each other on the spectrum of brewing characteristics. Suffice to say, diversity in the lager field is lacking. It wasn’t so long ago, though, that more choices were available. In fact, as recently as the 1940’s there was a strain that’s now referred to as TUM 35, which in the aftermath of WWII and the hyper-industrialization of beer went entirely missing… or so it was thought. Fairly recently, a stockpile of this yeast was discovered, resurrected, and tested. The findings are available in technical brewing documents like this one. TL;DR – TUM 35 does some lagery stuff and some really not lagery stuff, and it does it all really well. As far as we know, not many other breweries have used this yeast in a production setting and that’s the kind of thing that really gets us going.
With all that mentioned, you may be wondering what’s with the name. The Brightwater name isn’t exactly on-the-nose, so it’s gotta be another DMC deep cut right? Well… yeah it is! Put your science hats on, kiddos – we’re going for a trip in the Wayback Machine.
Ernest Rutherford, later known as Lord Rutherford of Nelson, was born in 1871 in New Zealand to a family of simple flax farmers. Young Ernest would grow to be an exceptionally bright young man, moving away from his hometown of Brightwater to study at McGill University in Montreal. Based on the work he completed in Canada, he would receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908 and become the eventual father of nuclear physics. His achievements are so many that it would be painstaking for me and exceptionally boring for you were I to list them all. Go ahead – Google him up and be impressed. TL;DR – our boy Ernie discovered the existence of the nucleus of the atom and that it, in fact, contained positively-charged particles that we now call protons.
This beer is an ode to all things Rutherford. The name for his birthplace. The hops for his homeland of New Zealand. Canadian malt for the country he achieved so much in. And TUM 35 yeast for the era in which he lived. Even the packaging contains references to subatomic particles, the lush greenery of New Zealand, and of course the landmark Gold Foil Experiment. Honestly, we couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to a guy who needed a tribute.
We really hope that you enjoy this meticulously-crafted beer as much as we enjoyed creating it. And to the Pilsner fans at the back of the room: we hope this makes up for the fact that we slagged your beer so hard.