The Hop Brief: Nectar Ales Nectar IPA
Enjoyed on 7/28/2010
Brewery: Nectar Ales
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer: Nectar IPA
Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style India Pale Ale
Hops: Bittering – Chinook
Late Kettle – Mt. Hood, Cascade
Whirlpool – Cascade
Dry Hop – Chinook, Centennial
Malt: Premium Two Row
White Wheat Malt
Commercial Description:Our IPA is created from a base of Pale and Crystal malts and is aggressively hopped throughout the brewing process with a final hop addition in the conditioning vessel. A beautiful flowery hop aroma will greet you as you dive into this hop lover’s dream. A middle caramel malt presence balances high hop bitterness with hop flavor end to end… learn to love hops!
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 97 (3.63)
Nectar Ales is a label that falls under the Firestone Walker umbrella. It didn’t always. The three Nectar Ales beers were originally brewed by Humboldt Brewing Company of Arcada, CA, which was acquired by Firestone in ’05. I don’t know for sure if the recipe is the same as it was originally, but I do know that Firestone Walker is a mind-blowingly good brewery, and they sure as hell wouldn’t attach their name to anything sub-par.
I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever had this beer before. Even though Firestone’s existence in WA is still fairly shiny and new, it seems like Union Jack and DBA are on tap and in bottles almost everywhere. That is not at all the case with Nectar. I would expect to see this IPA on at Brouwer’s Hop Fest, but that’s about the only expectation I have for its appearance on draft in the Seattle area. You know what? Maybe it’s just not all that exciting. I either don’t know or don’t recall. Let’s remedy that shall we?
The brew pours a pale amber color with a large white head of varying sized bubbles. With some time the head subsides but never fully dissipates. A good centimeter or two of white foam remains throughout my time with it. a respectable amount of lacing is found in various sections of the inside of the glass. Visually, the carbonation seems just about perfect, with little bubbles rising from the depths at regular intervals and building upon the white foam cap.
The scent is fantastic! Very floral to my senses. I am reminded of honeysuckles, which in turn reminds me of the house I grew up in. This is a very pleasant feeling. I get the impression that this beer isn’t all bitterness. The C-75 makes it’s presence known, and for that I am thankful. A more potent scent of candied hop flowers has been experienced before, but considering that this is a single IPA brewed year round, I’d say that the ratio is weighted in Nectar IPA’s favor. Very impressive!
The mouthfeel is a bit thin, and the carbonation that appeared hearty doesn’t seem to translate on the tongue.
The flavor is very pleasant. I could surely drink this in succession and be full of smiles. The hop element is juicy and matches the floral scent. Some herbal notes seem to fight through and lend a slight medicinal quality. Most of the bitterness is found in the aftertaste. Balance is definitely there, and that’s big for me – I need a little sweetness to combat the bitterness, and I’ve found it. There is a definite caramel glaze whisked into this one.
The aftertaste is the only place for improvement here. All of the bitterness seems to converge in this area, and most of the best flavor elements seem to wash away. It feels slightly watery in the end, which is sad because it starts off so well. This attribute could actually work in Nectar IPA’s favor because it begs you to take another hit and revel in that most succulent of opening experiences.
Well we now know, this isn’t a rare tap for a lack of worthiness. Most likely just a matter of supply (a major lack of) versus demand.
I’ve never really been fond of scoring beers. It’s all so subjective. I would most likely score the same beer two completely different ways on two different days. But…this column is all about growth, and with the outrageous quantity of hoppy beers on the market, I feel the need to assuage my desire to whittle them down to an elite few. Thus, I developed the following scoring system. This method just sort of came to me on a whim, so chances are it will evolve with time. The goal was to rate each beer on a 10 point scale. Some areas are weighted more heavily because I feel they are more important to the overall experience of enjoying a hop forward brew.
As I rate each category, I am generally thinking in terms of a letter grade (A through F, in comparison to the greatest and worst elements of all hoppy beers I’ve tried to this point) and then converting that into a score out of 100. I then multiply that score by the weight of the category. At least, that’s how it works tonight. Any suggestions for improvement would be appreciated.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.93
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.80
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.64
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.76
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 8.89
Disclaimer: This was not a free sample, but I’d gladly accept any offers.