Society of Beer Advocates - Beer for all the right reasons

National Homebrew Competition 2019

Tips and Advice

Style Tips

New England IPA
NZ Pilsner
European Lagers
Porters and Stouts


21B New England IPA

This style is on a roll – Have you brewed it?

We have added this new BJCP style category to this year’s NHC so you can enter you latest creation.

A big emphasis on late hopping, especially dry hopping and for the beer geeks start reading up on yeast and hop biotransformation. Multiple dry hop additions, the first while the yeast is still actively fermenting are key to nailing this style.

A good proportion of the grist (10-50%) is unmalted grains – wheat, oats, rye. Use less speciality and caramel malts than in a traditional IPA.

Yeast is a popular topic of discussion - London Ale III, Vermont IPA and Burlington Ale are popular choices.

If you are using water salts its common to move the balance to chloride, rather than sulphate as in a normal IPA.

Mouthfeel is important - Medium to medium-full body with a smooth character. No harsh, hop-derived astringency or a raw starch texture (please no big flour additions to create haze - we’re making beer not bread).

The haze is a side effect of using unmalted grains for mouthfeel, yeast selection and huge dry hopping during and after fermentation. Don’t focus on the haze as a goal and don’t add things specifically to get haze – if you do everything else right you will end up with a banging NEIPA appearance.

Don’t go to dark on the colour as they look muddy. Think of a nice glass of fresh squeezed hoppy orange juice as a target.

Click here to view the BJCP guideline for this new style.

Are you going to enter one?

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X5 NZ Pilsner

Our own NZ Pilsner is of the latest styles to be added by the BJCP.

A favourite style of BJCP President Gordon Strong, it showcases tropical, citrusy, fruity, grassy New Zealand hops. Although hops are the superstar in this style the malt is also important. Use a neutral to bready malt – Gordon recommends Gladfield Malt German Pilsner Malt – and pick your favourite NZ hops to go with it.

A refreshing easy drinking beer you want a clean fermentation profile (no esters) and you can use a lager yeast or a neutral ale yeast.

Many of the BJCP European light lager styles require a noble hop character. If you want to make a pilsner with NZ hops consider entering it as a NZ Pilsner. Try a Liberty Halo, Sawmill Pilsner, Emersons Pilsner, Panhead Port Road Pilsner or Tuatara Mot Eureka to get an idea of what you should be aiming for.

Riwaka, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin are popular hop choices but you can use any combination of NZ hops that showcase tropical fruit, citrus (lime, white grapefruit), gooseberry or honeydew melon flavours.

New Zealand Hops does a great job looking after local homebrewers ensuring we can get the hops we want to brew with. We have better access to many varieties than big overseas breweries. Thanks, NZ Hops.

Click here to view the style guideline.

What are your favourite NZ hop combinations?

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European Lagers

European Lagers come in a wide range of styles from light and very drinkable Czech Pilsners and Munich Helles, through to rich dark and brooding Doppelbocks. Don’t just stop at Pilsners go and explore the wonderful world of Marzen, Vienna, Dunkel, Bock and maybe even a Baltic Porter (a personal favourite)

A clean crisp beer with that classic lager drinkability is the aim for these styles. Even the rich dark ones are still far too easy to drink as many a beerhall punter will attest.

Malt character is key to a good lager, hops often play an important but supporting role. In most styles, you want to taste the elegant malt character with the hops balancing the malt sweetness rather than overpowering.

Try some German malts for an authentic flavour – it can make all the difference. Weyermann produces a great range perfect for European lagers and are distributed by our NHC partner Cryer Malt.

A common mistake is to use the wrong hops in the European lager styles. Make sure you use German or local noble style hops as you want that floral, herbal and spicy character. Fruity NZ and American hops like you would use in a NZ Pilsner, Pale Ale or IPA will give you the wrong flavours and are an easy way to lose points.

The goal with lager yeast is a clean fermentation with little to no esters or other fermentation flavours as this is the first thing many judges will look for.

A top tip for brewing lagers is pitch lots of yeast – you want at least twice what you pitch for an ale – and make sure you keep within the fermentation range recommended by manufacturer. Raising the temperature 4-5C near the end of fermentation (about 20% to go) for a diacetyl rest helps stimulate the yeast to clean up the beer.

What is your favourite lager style?

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Porters and Stouts

Ahh the power of the dark side - it’s hard to beat a well-made dark beer. From toasty English porters to rich dark and complex imperial stouts there is a great range of styles.

Pay close attention to style definitions and make sure you pick the class that best matches your beer’s character. Many good dark beers lose points simply because they are entered in the wrong class.

A key thing to watch for is astringency from the husks of malts. For advanced brewers mash pH is important. Check your sparge water is not too hot, the gravity on your final running’s is above 1.010 and don’t oversparge just to hit your volumes. Some people play it safe and use Gordon Strong’s method of adding their dark malts to the end of the mash which can help.

With big stouts yeast health and a good fermentation is important as fusel alcohols and phenolics can turn a lovely imperial stout from an ‘oh yes’ to an ‘oh no’.

For those who like hops with their toast and roast check out styles like American Porter where you can really let loose on all fronts.

What is your favourite dark beer style?

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A great IPA is the nirvana for many a hop head. And speaking of hops an IPA is all about the hops - use the freshest most vibrant you can find - they should leap out of the glass.

Bitterness is the next port of call. It should be medium to high, but clean and refreshing and not harsh. The malts are the supporting act, important but in the background, balancing the bitterness and providing a platform for the hops to say hello.

Watch the level of caramel malts as a good IPA should finish clean with low residual sweetness. Too much caramel malt combined with the high alcohol can make them a little cloying.

Try hard to minimise oxygen exposure – cold crashing suck back, transfers and bottling are risk points. CO2 purging and good bottle filling practices can help if you are kegging.

A lack of hop pop is often due to oxidation, old ingredients or fermentation issues.

Pitch plenty of healthy yeast as you want a nice clean fermentation and good attenuation. Yeast character and esters are out of style and will also mask hop flavours.

Did I forget to mention IPA’s are all about the hops. You can use a wide range of hops – NZ, Australian and of course the Americans.

What are your favourite hop combinations?

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