This beer is not meant to be a clone. The style was meant to be the only similarity--an IPA brewed with rye and Nelson Sauvin hops. While I do know that Alpine Nelson is brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Southern Cross hops, I went about formulating the hop bill from scratch. It is very easy to "over Nelson" a beer so the supporting hops are important. I wanted to be sure to make the Nelson shine, but still add something a little bit different in the background. At the end of the day, I decided to go with Mosaic, one of my favorite new American varities, since it has a similar profile to Nelson Sauvin with dank tropical fruit and a slight cattiness, but it is different enough to be interesting. The second supporting hop I went with was Ahtanum. To me, Ahtanum is citrusy and earthy hop. I thought the citrus notes in the background would make the tropical, grape, berry, and melon notes from the Nelson Sauvin and Mosaic not appear too out there for an American IPA. And the earthy notes from Ahtanum mix well with the earthy and spicy notes from the rye.
As for the malt bill, I wanted this beer to be an American IPA with rye, specifically an IPA first. Therefore, I avoided most of the darker malts that many rye beers include. I find this gives many people a false impression that rye is a dark malt, when it's really only about 4 Lovibond (the Rahr 2-row I use is 2 Lovibond). In my normal IPAs I use Vienna Malt and CaraPils with the 2-row, but I did decide to make this a little bit darker using Light Munich and Crystal 40 in order to make sure the rye is noticeable but not overpowering. As for the Flaked Rye, I use it in my saisons so I always have some, I saw the half opened bag and threw it in. I really don't see a need for it since nearly 20% Rye Malt is more than enough to be noticed. All it really did was force me to make an emergency LHBS run for the next saison I brewed. So I'd probably leave that out next time.
Brewed 26 August 2013, by myself
Batch size: 5.25 gallons
60 minute boil
7 lbs. Rahr 2-row
2 lbs. Weyermann Rye Malt
1 lb. Weyermann Light Munich
8 oz. Crystal 40
8 oz. Flaked Rye
5ml CO2 extract @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Warrior @ 60 min. (16% AA)
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ 0 min (30 minute hop stand) (11.2% AA)
1.00 oz. Ahtanum @ 0 min. (30 minute hop stand) (4.6% AA)
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin dry hop
1.00 oz. Mosaic dry hop
1.00 oz. Ahtanum dry hop
WLP001, 1L starter made 8/24
Carbon Filtered DC water with 3.2g gypsum and 3.6g CaCl2 added to the mash
Ca: 87 ppm
Mg: 7 ppm
Na: 20 ppm
Cl: 79 ppm
SO4: 99 ppm
1/4 tsp. of yeast nutrient and 1 Whirlfloc tablet added with 15 minutes left in the boil
150F for 60 minutes
Collected 6 gallons of 1.050 runnings (72% efficiency)
Chilled to 85F, put in fridge to get to 65F
Pitched decanted starter, solid fermentation after 12 hours, blowing off in 36 hours
9/6/2013 - Added 1/2 the dry hops after crashing to 50F overnight
9/8/2013 - Added the other half of the dry hops
9/15/2013 - Kegged
9/27/2013 - Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Golden, light amber, beautiful beer color. Slight haze from the rye and a two finger head that lingers around with lacing around the entire glass.
Smell: Dank, tropical fruit, with a nice caramel sweetness in the background
Taste: Sweet tropical fruit start, maybe mango? papaya? that leads into a nice white wine musty flavor with nice earthy note, possibly from the rye, and Ahtanum. The finish is bitter and spicy from the rye but the caramel malt flavor is just apparent enough to keep the beer balanced.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light carbonation, slightly chewy and dry enough (1.009!) that the crystal malt doesn't compete with the hops. Pretty much exactly where I want my beers to be.
Overall: While Alpine Nelson is a vivid memory, there's no way I could possibly remember all the intricacies of it's taste. I'd love to taste Nelson next to this just for comparisons sake. I know there are different (as was my intention), but they're probably my two favorite Nelson Sauvin forward beers, and I'd love to see how different they really are. I couldn't be happier with this beer.
9/28/2013 - The beer won the Best of Show at the DC State Fair Homebrew Competition. Scoring a 45 (non-BJCP) and placing first out of 79 beers. Cool!