American Homebrewers Association’s Nancy Noll On Homebrewing, Snowboarding, Dyslexia, Her Membership to the AHA, Who Inspires Her and More….
By Julia Herz, American Homebrewers Association Executive Director
Nancy Noll has homebrewed since 2014 and has been an AHA member for many years. She spends her time in Northern California and Central Oregon, where she loves to snowboard in the winter, float on the river in the summer, and homebrew all year round. This Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization (COHO) member reached out to me after hearing me present at the Women’s International Beer Summit. We met in person at Homebrew Con this past June in San Diego.
Nancy’s enthusiasm was infectious. I gave her a hose clamp ring, and as we walked around Club Night, we became instant friends. After Homebrew Con, she sent me the above photo with an email that said, “A big thanks to you and all your crew for such a great event. Everyone was so open and informative and FUN.”
Julia Herz: Nancy, what first inspired you to homebrew?
Nancy Noll: I drank a lot of wine, which gave me a headache. I used to carpool with a guy up to Mount Bachelor. I’m an avid snowboarder; that’s one of my passions. He always said, “Have a beer, have a beer.” One day, I was in Bend, Ore., and started drinking beer. Being the extremist that I am, I started brewing. I went to the Humboldt Homebrew Festival, where they had a raffle and silent auction, and I won a homebrew kit. That was it. I then escalated from a cooler standing outside in the rain with a gas burner to a HERMS (heat exchange recirculating mash) system I bought during COVID.
It’s been great. Homebrewing’s been a really positive experience for me. I’ve listened to many women about their experiences. Here I am. I’m older than most people, and I’m gay. I really have to say that they’ve embraced me.
I absolutely love it. I love the culture. Such positive things with people. In Oregon, the club does lots of events. Every month we have a group brew at somebody’s house, which winds up with somebody making beer, and everybody has a good time.
JH: Fast forward from 2014 to today—how often do you brew, and what are you brewing right now?
NN: My signature beer is my Nasty Woman IPA. It was 2016, and I thought, Oh hell, I’m just going to throw all these hops in at the end. This was before I knew about whirlpooling. I kept building on the recipe, and in 2017, I went to the Sisters Brewfest. I was by myself and thinking, I’ll be so happy if somebody puts a coin in my jar, or what if somebody spits it out?
Long story short, I won the People’s Choice and the Brewer’s Choice awards! I got to brew two 10-barrel batches with Three Creeks Brewery. It sold out. That was a real boost for me. I make my IPA every winter.
I also make a stout called Snow Rider Stout. A woman named Maura from Washington, D.C., who won our club brewer of the year, taught me things like cold pressing my dark grains and adding them in the last 15 minutes. I make a marinade with organic cherries, organic chocolate nibs, and vanilla beans and marinate it in top-shelf rum because I’m too old to drink cheap booze.
My partner doesn’t like really hoppy beer, but then I’ll make a beer, and she’ll like it. I make a Kölsch, but instead of a Kölsch yeast, I use an ale yeast and Cashmere hops. It’s an easy drinker.
I’ve made some fruit beers with mango. The yeast used to wake up and eat the sugar, and it kind of came out like a sour. So I started cold crashing it and then adding the fruit. Once the keg is cold, I recommend rolling it around and getting the fruit to mix.
I make Belgians, made some hazies with Myers lemon, and used experimental hops too.
JH: What has the AHA helped you with to up your homebrewing game?
NN: The discounts and the AHA are like a family. The most exposure I’ve had is at the great conventions. I also love Zymurgy magazine. The AHA resources help me!
JH: Why did you initially reach out to me?
NN: I heard you speak at the Women’s International Beer Summit. You were talking about becoming a beer judge and that you were concerned about the test and that you had dyslexia. I am dyslexic. When I was growing up, it was terrible in school. Somehow, I managed and was able to carve out a successful career.
JH: Any positives from dyslexia?
NN: It makes you figure out how to be resilient. Like martial arts, which has really helped me. I had never heard of dyslexia until 15 years ago. You learn to get around it and figure out ways to get it done. I love the process of brewing beer, even if it doesn’t always come to what I want it to be. It’s kind of like meditation.
Nasty Woman West Coast IPA Recipe
Nancy Noll shares her West Coast IPA recipe Nasty Woman. She shares the following:
I originally nicknamed this beer Crazy IPA because I dumped in a bunch of Citra hops at flameout with no idea how it would turn out. It was well received by friends and colleagues, and after studying hops and whirlpooling and picking up tips from my brew clubs and classes, I refined the recipe to its current state. At the time I was working on this recipe, I heard an intelligent woman express her informed opinion and get called a “nasty woman.” In other words, if a woman has self-esteem enough to speak out, she is considered “nasty.” So, cheers to all nasty women!
- Batch volume: 10 U.S. gallons (37.9 L)
- Original gravity: 1.064 (15.7°P)
- Final gravity: 1.011 (2.8°P)
- Color: 8 SRM
- Alcohol: 7% by volume
- Efficiency: 70%
- 11 lb. (5 kg) American Vienna malt
- 11 lb. (5 kg) American pale 2-row malt
- 2 lb. (807 g) flaked wheat
- 2 lb. (907 g) German melanoidin malt
- 4 oz. (113 g) honey malt
- 2 oz. (57 g) Citra, 12.6% @ 60 min
- 2 oz. (57 g) Citra, 12.6% @ 30 min
- 13 oz. (369 g) LUPOMAX Citra, 18.6% a.a., whirlpool 20 min, 165–170°F (74–77°C)
- 8 oz. (227 g) LUPOMAX Mosaic, 17.5% a.a., dry hop 3 days
- 3 sachets Fermentis SafAle US-05
- ADDITIONAL ITEMS
- 1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 5 min
- Wyeast Nutrient Blend @ 10 min
Recirculation mash at 152°F (67°C) for 60 min. Sparge at 168°F (76°C). Boil 60 min., adding kettle hops as indicated. Cool to 170°F (77°C) and add whirlpool hops, allowing 20 min. contact time. On 11th day, dry hop for 3.5 days. Cold crash for 2 days and keg.
Extract Recipe Version
Dissolve 7 lb. (3.2 kg) pale liquid malt extract and 7 lb. (3.2 kg) Munich or Vienna liquid malt extract in hot water. Bring to a boil and proceed as above.
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Love homebrewing and the AHA? Email me your story. I’d love to learn more and possibly share in a future column. Cheers.
Julia Herz is executive director of the American Homebrewers Association. You can follow Julia’s homebrew talks and travels on Instagram @ImmaculateFermentation.