For those that don’t know, a SMaSH beer is a single malt, single hop beer and a perfect vehicle to really get to know a new hop variety. I have gotten very lucky so far with Nelson Sauvin, using it in a previous recipe called Saison Du Sauvin. In the saison, it took center stage with a very distinct white wine grape characteristic which paired very well with the yeast and malt bill. So that won me over, but I have been reading a bit about the great tropical fruit character and thought I could push the boundaries a bit. I chose Maris Otter since it brings some nice malty character to the table all on its own, and Nottingham yeast, which ferments fairly clean and drops clear. I added some piloncillo sugar to bring a little character and dry this out. I also built RO water to the Pale Ale profile in Bru’n Water.
[beerxml recipe=https://accidentalis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Full-Nelson.xml metric=false cache=-1]
This beer has been racked and carbonating for a week. I split the batch with a neighbor – whose version is missing 2 additional ounces of dry hops in the keg. So that skews my batch heavily in terms of aroma. So some quick tasting notes…
Changed the name because this is freaking out my tongue and nose 🙂 from Otter SMaSH Nelson to Full Nelson. My face is really trying to understand what is going in in the glass… tough
Looks: This is not dropping clear at all – it is a pale milky orange, still slightly under carbed. I will try to clarify with some gelatin later. Golden. Clears slightly at it warms. No head.
Aroma: Cat pee, dank, and this is very surprising. The dry hop in the keg is pungent and sharp. At first whiff, there is green grass and something slightly sulfur under that, and then with a full nose in and deep breath comes the ammonia. So while this sounds terrible, it is not. There is a lot of fruit going on, slightly citrus but very tropical. Think mango with a lot of lemon lime. No malt or yeasty esters at all. HOP BOMB
Flavor: Very smooth bitterness, doesn’t have the IPA sharp hit I expected. Tastes like a FWH beer, but it was not. Additions were layered in – but sharp bitterness isn’t coming through. Very dry – no residual sweetness. A bit of sweet tangerine or blood orange on the tongue, but BIG HOP FLAVOR. Some sharp acidity, but a very long finish to the taste. Sticks around. Definitely needs crystal malt to fortify and back this up. I would not put this at 60+ IBU, more in the pale ale range.
Overall: I am on the fence on this beer. It has the potential to be a great beer, but as a SMaSH, pulling back and balancing the hops is necessary. The layered additions approach is different than I usually hop (small bittering with big late hops), but I think it highlights how a hop works and its potential. The bittering is not obvious but the flavor and aroma are spectacularly fragrant and intense. I really want to see how this matures. A few weeks on gas and lagering may turn it around into a flavorful easy drinking beer. Right now – this is a palette wrecker. Juicy and pithy.
A week later: The beer is starting to drop clear, although some haze remains. The intensity of the pungent aroma and flavor is mellowing somewhat, but still strong. Curiously, the bittering seems to have intensified somewhat, perhaps as the hop flavor smooths a bit.