January is a month boldly marked on any beer lover’s calendar, an annual rite of passage due the same reverence as a national holiday. It’s the time of year when Troegs Independent Brewing releases Nugget Nectar, an excessively dry-hopped imperial amber ale. Fans travel up and down the East Coast for this seasonal offering, loading up because there is a good chance it will be out of stock by March.
Billed as an explosion of pine, resin and mango, Nugget Nectar is bursting with floral aromatics. Some fans claim to taste hints of rotten grapefruit – and, yes, that’s a compliment. During their recent Behind the Beer event at Standard Tap, John and Chris Trogner discussed their most sought-after beer.
“Nugget, to me, is pine. If you can grab a hold of a really nice nugget flower, that’s what you want,” said Chris Trogner, when describing Nectar’s leading hop. “It’s soft and piney, slightly dank and full of citrus.”
While Nugget gets all the headlines, there are several hops working together and holding each other’s hands throughout the brewing process. In addition to Nugget, there is liberal use of Columbus, Tomahawk, Warrior, Palisade and Simcoe hops.
“Nugget was the dominant hop variety, so we were trying to get as many as those oils out as we could,” said John Trogner. “So we were literally crushing the hop and squeezing it out. You see the logo with the hop cone dripping into the glass? We came up with the name late one night at a bar in Hershey.”
On this night, guests are treated to three different variations on Nugget Nectar: on draft, on cask and on nitro. There is also a “welcome pour” of Hopback Amber, which the Trogner brothers refer to as Nugget Nectar’s “little brother.” Featuring Cascade, Willamette, Nugget and Crystal hops, Hopback is a beautiful bouquet of pine and grapefruit.