Ah, Nugget Nectar. Very few things get me excited in the month of January. I broke all my New Year’s resolutions at 12:02am on January 1st, and my credit card bills start to pile up. But I know when the year turns, it’s almost time for Nugget. Nugget Nectar was one of the first beers to “wow” me. I actually remember the first time I had it. It was a cold day….Ok, I actually don’t remember the weather, but since it was January, I’m pretty sure it was cold. But it was at a sleepy bottle shop in upper Bucks County that I first took a chance on this brew. I got home, put away my beer purchases, and cracked it open. I was floored. This was 2004. Before Pliny the Elder, before Hopslam, and before Sculpin were even on the radar here in PA. My God, this was truly the nectar of the hop gods. This beer had the over-the-top hop flavor and aroma, yet wasn’t bitter. An hint of sweetness kept you coming back for more. Then more, then more, and then a taxi cab.
This year, as with last, Nugget Nectar is pretty hard to find. Huge demand, Troegs expanding their distribution, and possible hoarding (stop looking at me!) are all factors. Well, my simple answer is to brew your own. This way, you’ll have two cases you can call your own, and all you have to do is track down a single bottle to see how well you did!
I’m always hard-pressed to list my favorite beer, or “desert island beer”. But Nugget is in my top 3, without a doubt. I have brewed slants on this beer many times, but never really tried to clone it. Below is a very, very good recipe which is as close as I’ve gotten.
7.75 lb Vienna malt
4.5 lb Dark Munich malt
2.75 lb Pilsner malt
Mash: 150 F
60 minute boil
Extract with Grains:
3.3 lb Muntons Light LME
3.3 lb Briess Munich LME
1 lb Muntons Light DME
1 lb Pilsner malt
½ lb Munich malt
½ lb Vienna malt
½ lb Victory malt
Steep crush grains at 150-155F for 60 minutes
60 minute boil
The bittering addition will change, depending on whether you’re brewing with extract or all grain:
All Grain: 1 oz Nugget 60 minutes
Extract w/grains: 1.5 oz Nugget 60 minutes
The rest of the hop schedule is the same for both recipes:
¾ oz Columbus (also known as Tomahawk or Zues) 20 min
1 oz Palisade 10 min
½ oz Nugget 5 min
1.5 oz Nugget 1 min
¾ oz Simcoe 1 min
¾ oz Columbus 1 min
Ferment between 66-69 F (Ideally)
Wyeast 1056 or White Labs 001 (3 packs/vials, or make an appropriate starter)
When fermentation has stopped, move to secondary. Then follow below is the dry hopping schedule. All of the dry hopping happens at once, not back to back.
1 oz Nugget 5 days
¾ oz Columbus 5 days
½ oz Simcoe 5 days
After 5 days, bottle or keg as usual. Then enjoy when it’s carbed up!