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Nelson Sauvin Hops

Another NZ hop variety that I have come across. Here is our profile for Nelson Sauvin Hops.

This variety was developed by HortResearch at their location in the city of Nelson, which probably attributed to its namesake. It’s a cross between the New Zealand hop variety known as Smooth Cone (which is not grown commercially anymore) and a New Zealand male hop. It was released in the year 2000.

Origin: New Zealand

Aroma/Flavor: I think this is the most unusual descriptions I have seen for a hop variety. Nelson Sauvin hops impart a grape-like flavor to beers, defined as a cool climate white wine grape flavors. Other descriptors include extreme fruitiness, Passionfruit, and “Fresh Crushed Gooseberries”.

Alpha Acid: 11 – 13%

Typical Usage: Dual, but pairs nice with American citrus-y hops when used as a bittering hop.

Substitutions: Unique – no substitutions listed

Beer Styles: American ales that you want to push the boundaries of fruitiness, specialty/holiday beers.


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  1. Michael Henry

    Interesting hop. I’m looking to do an 1.100 OG beer using 65% Golden Promise, 25% White Wheat, and 10% Dextrose. I want to use White Labs’ Chardonnay yeast and a healthy dosage of late addition Nelson Sauvin. I’m attempting to blur the line with wines and beers.

  2. That’s an intriguing plan, Michael. Please let us know how it turns it out.

  3. Michael Henry

    Ok, Ive finally managed to acquire some of these hops. Geez, what a headache. It was easier to find a half pound of El Dorado hops (which made a wicked good IPA) Here is the finalized recipe:

    08 lbs 00 oz Castle Pilsner (54.2%)
    03 lbs 00 oz Simpsons Golden Promise (20.3%)
    02 lbs 00 oz Briess White Wheat (13.6%)
    01 lbs 12 oz Dextrose (11.9%)
    1.000 Oz Magnum – 60 Mins
    1.250 Oz Nelson Sauvin – 10 Mins
    1.500 Oz Nelson Sauvin – 1 Min
    2.000 Oz Nelson Sauvin – Dry Hop
    Blend of Wyeast #4267 Bordeaux (wine yeast) & WLP001 Cal Ale

    1.070 OG
    1.007 Est FG
    4.4 SRM
    55.3 IBU (Tinseth)
    8.3% Est ABV
    90 minute mash @ 148 Deg
    90 minute boil

    the idea: super clean, brilliant straw colored beer with white wine notes and a firm bitterness…Wish me luck.

  4. Rick H.

    Where did you find the Nelson Sauvin whole cones, or did you dry hop with pellets?

  5. After finally managing to acquire these hops and changing the recipe umpteen different times…Ive finally ordered the ingredients and will be making this beer.

    Draconian Libations’: South Seas Pale

    6.00 gallon batch

    05 lbs 04 oz – Castle Belgian Pilsner Malt (45.7%)
    03 lbs 04 oz – Briess White Wheat Malt (28.3%)
    02 lbs 08 oz – Castle Belgian Pale Malt (21.7%)
    00 lbs 08 oz – Simpsons golden Naked Oats (4.3%)

    .250 oz Pacific Jade – First Wort Hop
    .750 oz Nelson Sauvin – 10 Mins
    .250 oz Pacific Jade – 10 Mins
    .500 oz Nelson Sauvin – 0 Mins
    .500 oz Pacific Jade – 0 Mins

    White Labs WLP009 – Australian Ale Yeast

    1.050 OG
    1.010 FG
    SRM: 4.3
    IBU: 25
    ABV: 5.2%

    I’ll let you all know how it turns out. Im gunning for a soft, almost saison-ish malt character with a near 50/50 balance of NZ hop character…

  6. That recipe sounds great. Please leave a comment with some tasting notes.

  7. So far, so good on this beer. I always let my ales, even lower gravity ales, sit in primary for 3 weeks. I think its invaluable to allow the yeast to fully complete and take up the compounds that give off flavors. At any rate, I took the gravity at 1.010 yesterday and got a taste. For those who say Nelson Sauvin tastes like white wine, I can totally see it. However, Ive had hoppy light ales have a similar flavor prior to packaging. I plan to bottle on Wednesday. I generally like to allow my beer to carb at room temp for 10-14 days followed by a 20 day cold-conditioning phase in my lagering fridge. I am quite excited to taste this one.

  8. Excellent recap, Michael. Let us know how it turns out once it’s ready.

  9. Well, the beer has aged for 3.5 weeks and is now fully ready to drink. I am sad to say that the hop doesn’t fit my tastes for the style. The hop is intensely fruity in flavor and doesn’t seem to belong in a lighter style (in my opinion.) The beer itself is actually quite good with a nice malt character that seems to be accentuated by the Aussie Ale strain. Its clean and crisp. The malt flavors disappear quite quickly after drinking but the hop leaves a lingering (orange juice) type flavor. Its a good flavor, but I think this hop would be better served in something with a more considerable backbone and some alcohol flavors for melding. Nice hop, nice style…but I don’t think I care for them together.

  10. Sorry to hear that the hops/beer flavors didn’t match. I think a good strong holiday ale might be a good fit.

  11. John, I completely agree with you!

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