Posts tagged Sierra Nevada
Posts tagged Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Chico, CA
Russian River Brewing Co. - Santa Rosa, CA
Brux Domesticated Wild Ale
One of the things I really like about collaboration beers is that it gives people the chance to sample an offering from a brewery they might not otherwise get to try. Recently, there’s been the New Belgium/Lost Abbey Brett Beer collaboration, and of course all the collaboration offerings from Stone. In South Carolina, we don’t get Lost Abbey or most of the breweries Stone team up with, so it’s nice to say you’ve tried something that at least has the name of an out-of-reach brewery on it.
And while ‘round these parts we get plenty of stuff from Sierra Nevada, we’re a long way away from anywhere that stocks Russian River. (Although that hasn’t stopped me from getting my hands on most of their sours and Pliny the Elder.) Fortunately, we can now count Russian River among the ranks of East Coast beers thanks to Brux, the “domesticated” wild ale they cooked up with Sierra Nevada.
Coming in at 8.3% and bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brux is a cellerable sour that promises to develop nicely over time. But I have little patience, so let’s get into it.
Brux pours a gorgeous sunset orange color that’s beautifully clear. There are a couple fingers of a head on top but it barely lasts long enough to appreciate it. No lacing on it but some fairly strong alcohol legs.
A big punch of Brett funk hits you first on the nose, exactly what you’d expect from a beer that trumpets the yeast of its label. It smells very effervescent, bubbly, light and crisp. There’s a big yeasty note to it and a chewy breadiness as well. That’s topped with a touch of sweetness, a bit of grass and a wisp of peppers, apples and lemon.
On the front of the tongue is a big pinch of tartness. The carbonation completely washes over your mouth and pops open the taste buds. It’s got a medium but bubbly mouth feel. The tartness is very mild on the back at first but then explodes into this sweet yeast, along with some light raisins, green apples and grapes. There are very mild hints of apricots, bananas, honey and some citrus. It’s topped with a nice dry finish on the back and a slight white wine note.
Sours are a new territory for Sierra Nevada, but the folks at Russian River know what they’re doing when it comes to making a great tart beer. Brux is a departure from many beers in the style as it’s pleasantly tart on the front, but settles more on the back, stopping just shy of being lip-puckingly sour. The “domesticated” part of the name makes sense when you look at it that way.
Bottom line: Get a bottle for now and a bottle for later. This one should be even better than it already is with a little time on it.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
When it comes to barleywines, I’m partial to the English style of brewing, which focuses more on the malt than the hops. With English-style barleywines, you get those rich dark fruit notes with hints of plum, molasses, brown sugar and cherries that make them excellent for sipping and slowly enjoying.
American-style barleywines, on the other hand, focus more on the hops. They’re dry compared to the across-the-pond style with a stronger hop bite backed up by a deep, rich malt character. Still, they’re a bit more biting than I’d like them to be.
That being said, barleywine is still one of my favorite style of beer, and I’m never one to pass up a good offering, especially something as classic as Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot. Considered the quintessential American-style barleywine, Bigfoot is an annual release by the historic California brewery. As with most Sierra Nevada beer, Bigfoot is hopped out, yet still very well-balanced with a strong malt profile.
Bigfoot pours a deep redish brown, verging on an amber, and is fairly hazy. The finger of head on top dissipates fast and doesn’t leave much lacing behind. But, of course, at nearly 10%, it’s got alcohol legs that stick around.
The booziness hits you right out of the bottle, but is balanced with a piney hop note. Typical of what you’d expect in an American-style barleywine. As for the smell, there’s hints of toffee, caramel and small hints of orange and citrus from the hops. There’s also a nice oakiness to it as well.
The taste is sweet on the mid palate but the hops kick in like crazy on the back. The bitterness from the hops comes through something fierce, too, and lingers for a good long while. The alcohol is very present as well. The hops impart a big pine taste, and that oak quality is present as well. It’s a somewhat biting finish, but still an easy one.
While much hoppier than the barleywines I’ve had lately, Bigfoot is still an excellent example of what Americans have done to the style. I’m still heavy on sweeter and more mellow barleywines, but with the history and clout behind this one, it’s one every beer geek should have.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Hoptimum Imperial IPA
Last year was the debut of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum, a whole-cone imperial IPA clocking in at 100 IBUs and hopped to the high heavens. It was a much-hyped and sought after beer.
And for me, it’s was met with a resounding “meh.”
For a beer that screams “hop” - from the name to the color of the label to the fact there’s some freaky Silent Hill looking dude on the label with a hop cone for a head - I was quite underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad so much as it was just a major disappointment.
I’m guessing they went back to the drawing board with Hoptimum, because this year’s batch is simply astounding. First, a tribute to the hopping process:
First, the beer is brewed with German Magnum and Simcoe as well as some secret proprietary hop variety. Following that, it’s dry hopped with more Simcoe and proprietary hops, and then “torpedo hopped” with Citra and Chinook. Torpedo hopping is described as an “espresso machine for beer,” releasing the resin and essential oils without imparting any additional bitterness.
Anyway, on to the beer.
Hoptimum pours a crystal-clear brownish orange color. There’s a good two fingers worth of a bubbly rocky head, but it dissipates very quickly. (This is a 10% beer, after all.) Some really nice alcohol legs.
The Simcoe hits you on the nose to start. You get those wet pine and resin characteristics. There are hints of sweet fruits, oranges and peaches. There’s some astringency and a little malt note but otherwise just a really sweet, juicy smelling beer.
There’s a muted bitterness on the front of the tongue, but it just explodes in the middle of the mouth. A real nice bouquet of pine, bitterness and sweeter fruits take over the palate. The grapefruit really comes through on the back. There’s a slight maltiness that works well balancing out the hops and kind of a sweet finish, but the bitterness masks it slightly. It does have a nice bitter dry finish to it, an interesting end to an otherwise rich and flavorful beer.
Kudos to the folks at Sierra Nevada. This year’s batch is a vast improvement over last year, and I like the break from 22 oz. bombers for 12 oz. 4-packs. Makes an already drinkable yet ass-kicking beer a bit more accessible.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Sierra Nevada needs no introduction. As one of the pioneers of craft beer - hoppy West Coast ales in particular - the brewery is one of the juggernauts of the industry. They’re one of those consistently good breweries who occasionally goes out on a limb with new offerings.
One of those newer offerings is their Ovila series, a collaboration with the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA. Together, they’ve produced three beers designed to be baseline examples of their respective styles: A Belgian dubbel and quad, and a saison. I’ve seen mixed reviews on each, but with saisons being one of preferred warmer-weather styles, I figured now was a good a time as any to try the series.
The pour is a nice golden sunset orange with yellow around the edges. There’s a big fluffy head on top, typical of saisons, with a little lacing and tons of carbonation streaming up the glass.
The smell is classic saison: Esters, spice and pepper, a good bit of funk and a great citrus smell, with lemon peel being the most prominent. Saisons are designed to be the quintessential warm weather beer - malty and hoppy, but never leaning to far to one extreme - and this is a good example of what the style starts out as.
The taste, again, is classic saison. There’s good carbonation at the front of the mouth and a really crisp, floral taste throughout the mouth. The citrus and grassy notes are very projected. On the back is that classic bite of funkiness.
Nothing outstanding, but for an example of what a classic saison should be like, this is a good start.