July 19, 2016

Not Applicable Nugget Amber Recipe

Like many homebrewers I tried growing hops as another way to expand my involvement in the hobby. I'm a terrible gardener and my first several years were plagued (literally) with sequential years of droughts that brought locusts to chew up my plants. I'm starting to get some hops from the plants so it's time to start thinking about their use. I started trying to grow hops at a time when I wasn't a big fan of hoppy beers so I selected hops for their ability to grow in Texas plus the more gentler flavors that match my preference for brewing Belgian beers. Of the four varieties I selected, three were good choices (Mt. Hood, Sterling and Cascade) while the fourth, Nugget, has turned into something of a head scratcher.

I initially picked it because it is supposed to grow well in warmer climates and it's a higher alpha hop so I could use it for bittering if I want. I've yet to actually get any hops off this plant so I'm not really sure what I can get flavor/aroma-wise from it. I don't love the idea of using homegrown hops for bitterness without testing the alpha content so I'd like to find a good use for them as flavor/aroma hops. I'd hate to toss out a five year old plant without really giving it a chance.

Nugget has a solid history as a bittering hop but not much as a flavor/aroma hop. It gets panned pretty hard as anywhere between completely worthless and just not a great flavor. All descriptions tend to detail it as woodsy and herbal but not quite as woody as Chinook nor as herbal as Saaz or German noble varieties. Descriptions of the hop tend to be vague like:

  • "Nugget can be used as a bittering hop. It has pleasant, mild, herbal aromas. Aroma: Mild, pleasant, herbal aromas." -YCH Hops
  • "Its a dual use hops that has green, herbal aroma. It has a relatively low co-humulone oil content. The myrcene oil is on the high side, which helps provide some of the woody tones." - BeerLegends
  • "A very popular high-alpha hop giving clean bitterness and delicate herbal aroma. Versatile!" - Northern Brewer
  • A true hop-lover's hop, Nugget is woody, resiny and plenty bitter. Used mainly as a bittering hop due to its high alpha acidity, Nugget is sometimes used as an aroma hop to balance out the floral and citrus notes of other hop varieties." - Brooklyn Brew Shop
Basically everything boils down to the vague "woodsy" and "herbal" descriptions, which explains very little. The absence of commercial beers featuring nugget in late additions leaves few avenues but to brew up a beer myself.

I bought some Nugget for a prior recipe with enough left over to put together this test recipe out of the rest to try to explore the flavor and aroma more clearly. Taking a guess from the descriptions and typical hop pairings I opted for an amber/hoppy red recipe along the lines of the ambers and red IPAs that are frequently described as dank (from hops like Columbus and Simcoe). I'm also trying to use ingredients on hand so I pulled from my existing grain inventory and some 34/70 slurry I have on hand. This yeast seems to make a clean, crisp hoppy beer in the 60s as well, if not better, than neutral American ale yeasts like 1056/001/US-05. It may not be the greatest amber recipe every concocted but it should be a good palate for the hops. My plan is to use a large volume of hops in whirlpool and dry hopping with the ability to dial back on the dry hops if the hop flavor is overwhelming from the big whirlpool addition.

Nugget Amber Recipe

Batch Size: 2 gallons
Est. ABV: 4.6%
Est. IBU: 35.5
Est. OG: 1.046
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. SRM: 15.9
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Pale malt28270.80%
Unmalted wheat8214.20%
Crystal 604607.10%
Crystal 12041207.10%
Black patent0.55000.80%
Water Profileppm
Brun Water Pale Ale
PH: 5.2
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Epsom Salt.8g1.1g
Canning Salt.1g
Baking Soda.4g
Calcium Chloride.5g.6g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single Infusion at 152F
Mash volume: 1.1 gal
Sparge volume: 1.5 gal
Infuse 1.1 gal at 169F152F60
Sparge 1.5 gal at 190F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Nugget [13%]0.25ozFWH35.5
Irish Moss0.25tsp100
Nugget [13%]1.75ozWhirlpool0
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: 34/70 Slurry
Pitch 300ml
Cold crash 140F
Dry hop 1.5 oz Nugget 3Ambient
Bottle to 2.3 volumes
1.5 oz table sugar

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 7.10.16

First runnings: 1.075
Preboil gravity: 1.038
Preboil volume: 2.5gal
Mash efficiency: 75%
Post boil gravity: 1.046
Post boil volume: 1.85gal
Brewhouse efficiency: 68%

Gravity right on target, lost a little volume to the hops and a little excessive boil off. First attempt using new cereal killer mill. With adjustment and cereal mash of wheat could have cleared higher gravity and diluted down if desired.

7.21.16: FG reading 1.011 good for 4.5% ABV. Cold crashed overnight to 37F and then cut cooling and dry hopped in the morning.

Flavor pre-dry hopping exceeded expectations. Malt flavor is pretty much what one expects in a basic amber. Hop flavor is more noticeable than expected. Flavor reminds me of Mosaic but without the blueberry and less complex. It's also less punchy than Mosaic. Some peach and pear in the background. I don't see a problem drinking this beer in my future.

Review and discussion on nugget hops at: http://homebrewingfun.blogspot.com/2016/09/not-applicable-nugget-amber-review-more.html