Get to Know Your Hops: Nelson Sauvin

Mmm...the Nelson Imperial IPA from Widmer Brothers.

Grab your passport — our latest hops lesson plan takes us to New Zealand, a land turned upside down. In that island nation adrift in the southwest Pacific Ocean, fall is spring, pests are few and far between, and, most crucially, there are no known hop diseases. This fortuitous quirk in the ecosystem — made possible by the country's remote location and the relatively late arrival of meddlesome mankind — has allowed New Zealand to grow some of the world’s most unique hops.

While I could sing the many praises of hop varieties such as Motueka, Riwaka and the sparkling Pacific Jade, today’s featured hop is the curiously delicious Nelson Sauvin. The name tells the plant’s tale: Nelson refers to a region in central New Zealand, while Sauvin is shorthand for the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc. Much like that wine, the Nelson Sauvin hop presents a fruity, tropical profile, with detours to lychee and mango. Sip an IPA dosed with the Kiwi hop, and, like a lightbulb flickering in the dark, you’ll faintly make the connection: “Man, this tastes just a bit like white wine—but better.”

Any questions? Good—class dismissed. Now that you understand Nelson Sauvin, try these five IPAs crafted with the hop. Consider it extra credit.

Which Nelson Sauvin–spiked IPAs should you try? Check out my full story at Food Republic. Drink it up!