Anchorage Brewing Company - Nelson Sauvin
Serving Temperature:45–52° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Chalice, Teku, or Chardonnay Glass
Anchorage’s Nelson Sauvin, like most of Anchorage’s releases, sees only a limited amount of distribution, with only about 200 cases sold throughout the U.S. in 2018. We’ll be taking the majority of the 2019 release for our Rare Beer Club members, without around 50 to 75 cases to be sold outside of the club. This is a particularly dialed-in release out of Anchorage, and a perfect opportunity to dig into a beer 100% hopped with the delicious Nelson Sauvin hop.
This pours a bright, glowing golden-straw color, capped by off-white foam. The aromatics are super generous from the start, overflowing with tart lemon and pomelo grapefruit. It’s a lot of pithy citruses and tropical notes, from lemons and limes to green mango and kumquat. It’s a brilliant introduction to this beer, marrying the impacts of the Brettanomyces yeast and Nelson Sauvin hops into an incredible expression of tart fruits and herbaceous character. Refreshing elements of lime, especially, give a ton of brightness and lift from the moment this is poured.
The first sip reveals bold carbonation and expressive tart fruits, with that lemon-lime combo coming through with a whole bunch of vibrancy. For fans of the impactful Brett character of Anchorage, their Nelson Sauvin comes through with a whole lot of satisfying citrus and tart fruit, alongside a peppery cracker note. At this point, the acidity levels allow plenty of room to immediately dig in, with an initial punch of tartness followed by a satisfyingly smooth hit of grassy hops. There’s a subtle underlying element of oak present from the time this saison has spent inside of its foudres, offering almond and vanilla hints. Smooth, toasty undertones.
There’s a lot of complex fruit facets to dig into courtesy of the Brettanomyces and Nelson Sauvin, from the intense lemon-lime permeating the whole business, to tropical notes of mango and passion fruit and beyond, presented alongside elements of oak and herbs and its softly toasty malt. There’s so much to love about this beer, and it’s possibly the most eminently drinkable beer we’ve ever had from Anchorage. The Nelson Sauvin hops do wonders, while the Brett’s both bright and complex. Let this warm up a touch for all those elements to fully play out.
We first featured the esteemed Anchorage Brewing Company shortly after they’d opened, digging into their Galaxy White IPA right around the time that they were taking the #1 slot on RateBeer’s 2012 Top New Brewers In The World list. They haven’t exactly disappointed in the time since, with assertive release after assertive release hitting shelves in limited spots. Nelson Sauvin’s one of their masterpieces. We’ll dig in below after swinging by the brewery.
Gabe Fletcher has been a serious force in craft brewing in Alaska for well over a decade. As the head brewer for the Midnight Sun Brewery in Anchorage, he was a major contributor to their tremendous growth over the years, as well as for producing such beers as their award-winning Arctic Devil Barley Wine and their legendary M Belgian-Style Barley Wine. Despite many successes at Midnight Sun, in the summer of 2010 Gabe decided to strike out on his own to pursue his passion for brewing unique beers, aging them in wood, and experimenting with Brettanomyces yeast and other “critters” to produce flavors unexpected and exceptional.
Rather than go the traditional route and buy his own brewhouse, Gabe hit upon the unique idea of renting time on the system of the Sleeping Lady Brewery in Anchorage, as well as the space in their basement. Doing this allowed Gabe to invest his capital where he really wanted to put it: wood. Visiting the Anchorage Brewing Company is a bit like being invited into the Bat Cave. There are racks and racks of barrels—chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir, hundreds in all. And those massive French oak foudres: wooden vats holding over 600 gallons each.
Using each different barrel as a master craftsmen uses his tools, Gabe produces beers that are typically packaged into 750mL bottles for distribution via Shelton Brothers. And they’re pretty amazing stuff—with Gabe taking on a ton of adventurous terrain in recent years. The first four releases were each triple fermented: a primary fermentation in stainless steel, a long secondary fermentation in French oak wine barrels dosed with Brettanomyces... before being bottle conditioned. Released first was Whiteout Wit, brewed with Sorachi Ace hops, spiced with lemon peel, coriander and black peppercorn, and then aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels. Next was Bitter Monk double IPA: 9% ABV, with a massive 100 IBUs from Apollo and Citra hops along with Citra dry-hopping during aging with Brettanomyces in French oak Chardonnay barrels. (A mouthful.) Then came the Love Buzz Saison, 8% ABV and 40 IBUs, brewed with Amarillo and Simcoe hops and spiced with fresh Alaskan rosehips, fresh orange peel and black peppercorns. (Also: aged in French oak Pinot Noir barrels with Brett.) Finally there was The Tide and Its Takers tripel, brewed with Sorachi Ace and Styrian Golding hops and aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels with Brett. Every one delicious. With the lasting creativity and depth in brewing, Gabe Fletcher and Anchorage Brewing Company have been, for us, one of the most exciting developments on the U. S. brewing scene in recent years. It’s a treat to dig into their mouthwatering Nelson Sauvin with our RBC members this month.
This is bottle conditioned and the Brett component will likely give this some added longevity, but for maximum Nelson Sauvin effect we would definitely encourage our RBC members to check this out fresh. It seems like a fair bit of that lime and fresh herbaceous character could drop off pretty quick. We couldn’t help but want to try this one alongside Key lime pie, with that electric lime core, but the vibrant citruses also make this primed for spicy braised pork.
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