Monthly Archives: December 2016

Sierra Nevada–Peach IPA

This beer looks almost exactly like the brewer’s Pale Ale, an almost translucent coppery gold color.  The bright white bubbles that make up the head look the same.  The retention and lacing are about the same.  At this point, I see little that makes this beer an IPA.

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Even the scent doesn’t differentiate this beer from many of Sierra Nevada’s numerous other offerings.  I’m picking up a little pine and a little of something else that is unusual, but peach doesn’t really come to mind.  It’s a fruity note, but nothing dominates or stands out in the nose.

Finally, the peach makes an appearance in the taste.  It mates well with the flowery, piney hops.  Being an IPA, malt is mostly an afterthought, as the hops and any other fruit adjunct take up all the screen time.

The addition of sweet peaches to a bitter IPA makes for an interesting battle of dominance between sweet and bitter, and neither side wins.  Normally, sweet shows up first, then bitter in the finish, but with this beer, the two fight the whole time, giving this relatively low ABV (only 5.8%) a surprisingly medium bodied mouthfeel.

Many people don’t care for fruit in their beer.  I think this beer would be a good one for those people to try because the peach plays more of a supporting role and stays out of the limelight.  I’m undecided on how I feel about this beer, so I’m glad I still two more bottles to figure it out.

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Sierra Nevada–Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the George Washington of beers.  One of the frontiers of the craft beer industry; a beer that will be on the Mount Rushmore of beers.  One of the first and one of the best.

Pale Ales aren’t what they once were.  Back in the day, they were higher in alcohol than the macro breweries were putting out and they were far more ‘bitter.’  Not only that, they were packed with taste.

The first time I had SNPA, I could barely swallow it.  It was so ‘bitter.’  But, the flavor was there and they were giving out hats or glasses if you tried it.  This was almost 25 years ago and I was a Bud man.  As beer changed and time passed, I ventured into more and more craft beers and I realized how influential this beer was.

SNPA is not a dark beer, hence the name Pale Ale.  After the chill haze has worn off, you can see through the beer.  So, it’s translucent like macros, but a darker color of coppery gold rather than piss yellow.  A nice frothy head sits up top, with decent retention, and moderate lacing.

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With a good supply of Cascade hops, the smell is unlike the big brewers.  Gentle notes of pine and citrus tickle the nose.  Even the malts were different than macros, with a heavy dose of pale malt instead of that shitty Pilsner malt we were accustomed to.

The drinking experience starts with a crackery flavor from the malt and yeast.  As the beer continues its journey, a gentle wave of pine and grapefruit presents before an earthy, flowery taste finishes the experience.

Complexity wasn’t a word that was normally associated with Bud and Miller, but SNPA gave it up in spades.  A bit bready, a tad sweet, a kick of bitter, this beer gives it all.  On top of that, along with the bitter finish, there was a kiss of carbonation to liven things and brighten the sensation.

By today’s standards, this beer is pretty tame.  But back in the day, SNPA helped change the craft beer landscape.  We had never seen or tasted anything like it.  The thing is, this beer is still amazing and a world class example of the Pale Ale style.

Sierra Nevada–Maple Scotch

A scotch Ale is generally a European style beer known for it’s rich, creamy, sweet malt flavor and earthy, moderate spiciness.  With Sierra Nevada’s addition of maple syrup, this beer should be fairly sweet with the spices added for balance.

Maple Scotch pours a dark ruddy brown with darker red highlights around the edges.  Held to a light, the red and brown colors combine for a medium brown color with some burgundy hues.  While the beer appears thin, it’s still dark enough to keep the light out.  Each pour produces a huge head that has minimal retention, but a large lacing.

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I’m not picking up much in the nose.  It resembles icead tea.  I’m just not getting anything significant or worth commenting on.  The beer has warmed slightly, so the scents should have evolved by now, but there’s just nothing there.  I have to almost stick my nose into the foam before the syrup shows its head, but that could be because I know it’s there somewhere.

As expected, everything providing sweetness is detectable, particularly the syrup and the caramel hops.  As the beer warms, some chocolate notes begin to emerge, and lo and behold, chocolate malt was used.  I can’t taste anything resembling the spices normally found in this style of beer.

Maple Scotch isn’t overly sweet, but it’s definitely malt forward. I can only assume the hops are providing the balance to the sweetness, though I can’t taste or smell them.  There’s sufficient IBUs in this so while I can’t taste the hoppy bitterness, I know it’s in there.  The 7.3% ABV is very well hidden.

There are some red wine overtones in this beer and all the different sweetening ingredients make for an easy drinking beer that can sneak up on you with that moderately high ABV.  This is one of my favorites of this style of beer.

 

Sierra Nevada–Single Hop IPA

Sierra Nevada is one of the craft beer pioneers and this beer is a play off their classic Pale Ale, a Mount Rushmore in the beer world.  As the name implies, only a single hop variety was used for aroma and bittering.  That said, the Sierra Nevada website states, as ‘Other’ in listing of the ingredients: “Torpedo hops, Cascade.”

Cascade is basically synonymous with West Coast hops and their piney, citrus fruit notes in the smell and taste are appreciated all over the world.  I have never heard of Torpedo hops, and it seems neither has the internet as there was nothing listed for that variety that I could find.  I don’t believe there is a Torpedo hop, but there is a Sierra Nevada IPA called Torpedo, which is made with Cascade hops.  So, there is some confusion.

Regardless, I’m a big fan of Cascade hops and I’m eager to try this beer.  This is an IPA, so it should be a happier version of the aforementioned Pale Ale.  The Pale Ale is one of the great beers so this should be amazing.

Being an IPA, this beer is slightly darker than the Pale Ale and is much less translucent.  This Single Hop beer is a very dark gold color and has a milky haze to it, which makes it a bit more on the opaque side of things.  The foamy, frothy head is a couple fingers thick and remains for a while.  The carbonated head eventually gives in and a really thick, sticky lacing grabs the glass.

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The Cascade hopping gives the standard pine and grapefruit aroma, and while it’s a bit stronger that in the Pale Ale, it’s not as strong as I expected it to be.  Still pleasant, just not as aggressive as I was hoping for.  This was brewed with simple Ale yeast and just the one hop, so it’s a bit lacking in complexity, but it does highlight the hops used.

That lack of complexity shows in the taste as it’s little more than a one trick pony.  Those Cascade hops give off the piney flavor I’m accustomed to, but I can’t find any citrus, only a flowery taste.  Normally Cascade hops give off a more acidic taste, but that’s simply not there.

For a beer with a happier profile and a touch more alcohol than it’s standard brother, it lacks body.  And with the lack of complexity in both the nose and the taste, my palate is getting pretty bored.  It’s a very smooth beer up front, but all 45 IBUs hit you at once, in the swallow.  The 6.3% ABV isn’t noticed much and with the bitterness all hitting at once near the finish, that finish is very dry.

Though I wouldn’t consider this a bad beer, it doesn’t make the impression on me that I had hoped.  The simplicity makes the beer not all that easy to drink.  I much prefer the Pale Ale.

Anderson Valley–Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale

I found this beer a few years back and then never saw it again.  Was fortunate to see it in Kentucky a few weeks back and picked up a sixer.  So glad so did.

This is Anderson Valley’s winter warmer.  As such, you can expect a rich color, a spicy scent, and a nice amount of alcohol.  This seasonal ale doesn’t disappoint.

The medium brown color resembles a barleywine, though the pour is less viscous.  There’s zero clarity and no chill haze…just a nice bright brown color.  Three fingers of off white bubbles sit atop the beer, though they don’t retain all that well.  However, that head departs with a nice lacing.

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Winter Solstice smells of caramel and winter spices like nutmeg and cloves.  Mysterious notes of caramel because there is no caramel malt.  The beer has just a few varieties of malts and only one hop and yet they provide an amazing scent.  No hop presence whatsoever.

The notes of the few ingredients listed above all present in the taste and they really work well together as the spices never dominate like in many other beers.  The ratio of each is just perfect for the beer.

Not much to be improved on with regards to the mouthfeel.  Despite the spices, this is exceptionally creamy and smooth.  Again, the mix of ingredients is totally spot on.  Just enough sweetness and the lack of spices provide a party in your mouth.  Medium- to full-bodied, leaning toward full.  A super easy sipper, though at 6.9% you can really down it.

One of the best winter/holiday beers I’ve had and I’ve had a lot of them.  I wouldn’t change anything about this beer, aside from a bit more alcohol, but this beer is exceptional and the next time I see it, I’ll buy a case or three.

Tin Man–Herald

Herald is from local brewer, Tin Man Brewing.  Their imperial pumpkin ale, it’s only released when the days get short and the temperatures start to fall.

Tin Man brewed a gorgeous beer, with a deeply burnt orange, almost brown, color.  The pour is extremely rich and even the cascading head results in an orange hued khaki color.  About a finger and a half thick, the bubbles up top retain well.  Really an impressively inviting looking beer.

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Instead of being overwhelmed with pumpkin pie spices, this beer fills the nose with caramel, molasses, a few of the autumn spices, and the scent of a pie crust taken right out of the oven.  The spices are prevalent, but never dominate the graham cracker scent of a crust.  Very pleasant.

It tastes a bit more pie like, but some of the other flavors help keep the pie spices in check so the beer isn’t ruined.  Caramel, molasses, vanilla, and actual pumpkin tame the cloves.  While the smell reminds of a pie crust, the taste is more reminiscent of the pie itself.

A lot happens on the palate, Herald creates a complex mouthfeel.  The caramel malts and molasses provide the sweetness, while the various spices, hops, and 8.4% ABV give some bitterness.  However, despite the very rich look, the different ingredients, moderately high alcohol content, and fairly full bodied feel, I found it a little more watery than I’d care for.

Overall, this is one of the few local beers I’d consider buying again.  I hate paying for distribution costs when a beer is made locally, but this is a solid beer.  The fact that it comes either on tap or in a tall boy can are just bonuses.