A few years ago I wanted to brew a Black IPA. I searched everywhere for a good recipe but just couldn’t find anything that struck me as awesome. I then remembered a beer I had at the Copenhagen Beer Celebration just shortly before I began wanting to brew this BIPA – Brodie’s Simcoe for Breakfast. This beer was spectacular. Although it was categorized as an Imperial Stout, I knew I wanted something almost spot on to this. Except I was going to use Nelson Sauvin hops. I had another beer at the aforementioned festival with these hops and knew I wanted them to be the showcase of something that would be brilliant.
So I devised a plan to make a pretty good IPA that I had made before, and just add some color to it. I also wanted a bit of the chocolate that seemed to be present in the Brodie’s as it went well with the flavor of those hops. And I knew it would go well with the Sauvin hops as well. Kind of like a chocolate colored orange slice in the former, and grapefruit and grapes in the latter. So off I went to order some hops. There was the problem. Nobody had them in stock. Nobody. So I put a call out to the good people on HBT. A day or so later I was given some intel on a site that may have some in stock. The site was Brew Brothers. Not wanting to have to scrounge for these hops again, knowing that I would love them, I ordered two pounds. Along with some Maris Otter that would give it the maltiness I was trying to achieve. Plus it is hard to get Maris Otter in Germany so I bit the bullet on shipping for that.
Everything arrived fairly quickly, about a week I would guess. The bag of grain was destroyed, but it was all in there, so no worries. I immediately opened the big bag of hops to get a whiff to see if they were everything I remembered. YEP! I made the right choice. So far. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to arrive so I could brew up my masterpiece. But it was still about four days away. I kept busy by working and sniffing the hops.
Brewday arrived and I began the arduous task of mashing in the cold. Good thing my cooler keeps temperature fairly well. But to be safe I mashed inside. Boil took longer than usual as it was freezing outside. But the aroma from that first addition of hops was magnificent. As were the next few additions. Cooling the wort was no problem on that day. Water coming out of the hose was probably about 40 degrees F or so. Or at least it felt like it. Now that I had the beer in the fermenter and the yeast pitched all I could do was wait. Wait for the day I could dry hop with these aromatic beauties.
After another seven days or so with the hops in there I decided to not bottle and to mini-keg these, with priming sugar. I had just picked up four of the 5L minikegs from Brouwland the month prior with hopes of having a fridge full of them. I let them sit there until I had one of my German friends come over. This guy really likes American style beers and I thought we could both taste it and decide what needed to be changed. I tapped one of the little cans and began pouring the first glass.
Tons of foam. I thought it was just because it was the first glass, or maybe the CO2 cartridge had overdone it. I removed the cartridge and bled some of the pressure off before pouring again. No dice. This was upsetting. Next I thought it could be an infection. I thought I had cleaned these things and sanitized them well enough. So we let the foam die down a bit on each of our glasses and took a sip. We looked at each other and knew. It was the best beer we have both had. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but this wasn’t only the best beer I had brewed to date. But it was, seriously, the best beer I have had. If someone else had made it I would say the same.
It was everything I had wanted it to be. Perfect combination of hops with a chocolate note. Fruity, from the hops, and bitter. Actually, if there was one thing I would change it would be the bitterness. It came out to be just a slight bit more bitter than I wanted. That and I would probably bitter with a higher AA hop to reduce the amount of Sauvin I had put into it. If only to stretch the inventory more. Not much roast came through, if any at all – I sure can’t taste any, as I had just added a little bit to darken it up.
I’ll still keep tweaking this until I get it to where I want with minimal usage of my precious Sauvin hops. But so far the one time I did change it up, it came out not quite up to par. So this latest effort I kept it all the same and it is the glass pictured above. I tried to get it brewed and carbed in time for the same German friend’s trip down to Miami, but I didn’t have the time. I’ll make it again, for when I go over there, or he comes back here. Until then he’ll just have to keep begging me to make it for him.
Beersmith 2 recipe, with notes, follows:
Recipe: Sauvin Noir Brewer: Matthew Riggs Asst Brewer: Style: American Amber Ale TYPE: All Grain Taste: (30.0) Chocolate, grapefruit. There is a slight chalkiness to it, but not overwhelming. I'm sure once I get to some excellent brewing water I'll be good. Not much left to tweak to perfect this one. Next one I'll have to make without MO. Recipe Specifications -------------------------- Boil Size: 8.55 gal Post Boil Volume: 7.80 gal Batch Size (fermenter): 7.00 gal Bottling Volume: 6.75 gal Estimated OG: 1.063 SG Estimated Color: 31.1 SRM Estimated IBU: 65.8 IBUs Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 % Est Mash Efficiency: 77.1 % Boil Time: 60 Minutes Ingredients: ------------ Amt Name Type # %/IBU 13 lbs 16.0 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 84.3 % 14.2 oz Biscuit Malt (25.4 SRM) Grain 2 5.4 % 8.3 oz Chocolate Malt (456.9 SRM) Grain 3 3.1 % 8.0 oz Aromatic Malt (76.1 SRM) Grain 4 3.0 % 6.1 oz Black (Patent) Malt (609.1 SRM) Grain 5 2.3 % 5.0 oz Special B Malt (177.7 SRM) Grain 6 1.9 % 24.95 g Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 25.4 IBUs 24.95 g Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 8 19.5 IBUs 34.02 g Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min Hop 9 21.0 IBUs 34.02 g Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs 34.02 g Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Da Hop 11 0.0 IBUs Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out Total Grain Weight: 16 lbs 9.6 oz ---------------------------- Name Description Step Temperat Step Time Mash In Add 22.75 qt of water at 162.6 F 152.0 F 60 min Sparge: Fly sparge with 5.35 gal water at 168.0 F Notes: ------ Damn near perfect. If this was a commercial beer I would buy it all the time.