Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Major Major (6/23/12)

Nugget Nectar, a seasonal release from Troëgs Brewing Company in Pennsylvania, is one of the finer beers ever brewed. Though marketed as an Imperial Amber, the beer is more often compared to double IPAs than other amber ales due to the massive quantity of hops it contains. Two things distinguish it from a typical double IPA: the use of Vienna and Munich malts, which produce the beer's amber color and toasty malt flavor; and the use of Nugget and Warrior—usually used for bittering—as dry hops, which provides a unique hop aroma. This brew is our first real attempt to recreate a commercial beer.

The reason we haven't used Vienna or Munich in previous batches is that, as base malts, they must be mashed to convert their starches to fermentable sugars. We've never mashed before, but for this beer we made the effort. We mashed in a bag in the kettle for 60 minutes, using two gallons of water with five pounds of malt and aiming for a mash temperature of 150˚F. It proved more difficult than I anticipated to use the stove to adjust the temperature, so after a few minutes I just turned the stove to low heat and put a towel on the lid. This seemed to work fairly well; the mash ended at 147˚F. We sparged by pouring water (150-160˚F) through the grain bag as it sat in a colander over the kettle.

We ended up with a bit more volume in the kettle than we planned, so we performed a 90 minute boil to boil off some of the water. This increased the calculated IBUs of the beer somewhat, though we would likely have maxed out solubility of iso-alpha acids in our wort anyway. After we cooled the beer and pitched the yeast, John and Andy helped to provide more aeration (i.e., shaking of the beer bucket) than I usually have patience to perform, which should help to ensure the beer ferments to completion.

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Volume: 6.5 gal
Mash Size: 2 gal
Mash Thickness: 1.6 quarts/pound
Strike Temperature: 163˚F
End of Mash: 147˚F
Measured OG: 1.079
Measured FG: 1.017 (?)
Estimated ABV: 8.0
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 137
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast
Starter: 3 liters

Malts Mashed Amount % Max Pts.
Munich 2.25 16% 36.00
Vienna 2.25 16% 35.00
Crystal 80 0.3 2% 34.00
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 5.8 55% 42.00

Hops/Additions Amount Time AA%
Nugget 2 90 12.0%
Chinook 1 30 11.0%
Magnum 1 20 16.0%
Cascade 1 10 7.8%
Nugget 2 0 12.0%
6/30/12: Dry hopped with 2 oz Nugget and 2 oz Warrior (12 days)
7/12/12: Bottled to 2.7 volumes of CO2.

Notes: Hop bag weight insufficient to fully submerge all four ounces of whole cone hops. Dry hop aroma is less intense than expected. Possibly the most bitter beer we've ever made.

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