Single Hop Series #3 – Nelson Sauvin

They’re coming thick and fast, and today it was time for an exciting new(ish) variety from New Zealand: Nelson Sauvin.

I remember trying this hop just over two years ago in a beer I brewed for a new years party, and I didn’t care at all for the ‘Ribena’ flavour it imparted.  The beer that changed my mind was Brewdog’s Chaos Theory.  I loved that beer.  I miss it.

Chaos Theory had that heavy blackcurrant flavour, almost to excess, but it worked very well in a big, boozy red ale. The most surprising thing was the aroma – I’m guessing it must have been dry hopped – a big, fruity, ‘catty’ aroma that is surprising, and almost offensive at first.  But like a good piece of music, it draws you in and the nuances become more apparent with every taste.

This is my attempt at something more or less in the same style.  Moloko Velocet Red Ale, hopped to oblivion with Nelsons.  It could be a disaster.

The hops themselves were highly aromatic out of the bag and the aromas coming from the brew kettle were sublime. Wave after wave of blackcurranty goodness that you could smell several streets away.

Edit: 27th April 2010

The initial aroma shortly after bottling was not at all pleasant. Kind of a damp rot, wet dog,  musky aroma, which made  me thought I had an infection from somewhere. After a month in the bottle, and the unpleasant aromas have subsided, leaving the familiar nelson character. I still get pretty heavy blackcurrant, and grape this time. Same with the flavour, like someones slipped a few glugs of Welches red grape juice in the beer. Not bad, but it’s not sitting entirely at ease with the roasted character from the chocolate malt. I think it would be more at home in a blonde ale. This beer is also needing a good hit of bitterness. I think my hop calculation (Tinseth) underestimates bitterness, or perhaps i’m losing hop bitterness to trub and yeast. I would kick it up by another 20 IBU.


  1. Oblivious · March 8, 2010

    Looks fanstastic, i just got some of these hops going to a bitter or IPA with them

  2. Bailey · March 9, 2010

    When you say catty, you mean cat pee, don’t you? That’s what someone told us NS smelled of the other day, although we thought it was elderflower.

  3. Geoff · March 9, 2010

    I don’t really get any elderflower from them. I don’t know if you tried Chaos Theory (which is the only commercial beer I’ve had with NS), but it definately had a bit of the ‘cat piss’ about it. In a nice way, oddly!

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  5. Kristen England · March 14, 2010

    I don’t get elderflower either. Its more Ahtenham than anything else I can think of. Definitely ‘pissy’, nice hop though. As for black currants, I get them much more out of the Pacific Gems than anything else I’ve ever tried.

  6. Barm · March 17, 2010

    I just get grape and a little bit of peach from Nelson Sauvin. It doesn’t blow me away but it’s nice combined with Cascade. That gives it the edge that it’s missing on its own.

  7. Leigh · March 28, 2010

    I get grape and peach, too. I love Nelson though – although i can see why people would think it a little strong/astringent. It’s an interesting hop though, and I;m seriously into NZ Hops right now…

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