Sierra Nevada

SIERRA NEVADA

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was founded by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi in 1980 in Chico, California.  Their most popular beer is their Pale Ale; this is the beer that put them on the map and made them known across the nation. They have their own hop farm on their land and they have erected one of the largest private solar arrays in the United States. This solar project produces over 1.4 MW of AC power for the brewery. They produce year round and seasonal brews. They also provide specialty ales such as their Northern and Southern Hemisphere Harvests and their Ovila line of Abbey ales.

www.sierranevada.com

Year-Rounds/Seasonals:

Specialty/Limited Release:

BIGFOOT (2012): 94 Points

Drink two of these, you’ll see Bigfoot

This Barleywine has a yearly release and produced in limited quantities. It is available in 12 oz. bottles. Enjoy!

Brewer’s Description: “Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.”

My Description: You know that if Sierra Nevada is making a barleywine it is going to be on the bitter side, which this definitely is. And this bitterness is strong and good. It has a nice sized light tan head, with a great retention and really good lacing. The aroma smells like you are in a hop forest; it has fragrant notes of sweet woodsy hops with a touch of toffee. This beer is full bodied, very smooth, and has a lip smacking dry finish. Up front you will taste flavors of dark caramel malt and as the beer warms up, dark fruit flavors develop that are a welcomed addition. The alcohol is nicely hidden behind the strong woodsy/citrus hop flavors. The aftertaste has a moderately high bitterness level that lingers. It is best served around 60°F and pairs nicely with pork chops, swordfish, or steak burgers.

ABV: 9.6% Color: Brown, Red Hues Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 7/10

BLINDFOLD IPA: 88 Points

Surprisingly lighter bodied

Surprisingly lighter bodied

This Black IPA is released randomly in the IPA variety pack in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Blindfold blankets us in darkness yet maintains a surprisingly light body and bold, hoppy character. This black IPA emerged from our Beer Camp program and builds on Sierra Nevada’s legendary love of hops with roasted malts for depth and complexity. Like its namesake, Blindfold is a bit disorienting—the color of a stout and the intense, hop-forward flavors of a classic American IPA.”

My Description: I found this Black IPA to be less bitter than other West Coast styles, which surprises me a bit because Sierra Nevada is not known to hold back on the hops. Either way it is still a great everyday Black IPA that delivers a good amount of flavor in a lighter bodied ale; even though the alcohol is 6.8% the body does feel light. This ale pours a large and fluffy, tan colored head with an amazing retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a wall of lacing. The aroma is pleasant with pine hop notes dominating along with some citrus fruit notes, roasted malts, and coffee. Blindfold IPA is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Similar to the aroma, pine hops take center stage in the flavor profile along with notes of chocolate, coffee, and hints of citrus hops. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with an interesting molasses note that lingers. I wouldn’t mind seeing this ale in an imperial version. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with smoked ribs, roasted lamb chops, or Gruyere cheese.

ABV: 6.8%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 5/10

CELEBRATION: 93 Points

Hoppy Christmas

Using freshly picked Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial hops, this Winter IPA has an IBU of 65. It is available seasonally in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Wonderfully robust and rich, Celebration® Ale is dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma.”

My Description: The reason this is a winter seasonal is because they make this beer right at hop harvest time, which is in autumn. The fresh off the vine hops really make a difference because you get a slightly fresher and cleaner hop taste that makes beer drinking that much more enjoyable. The head on this beer is average but does have a good retention and produces some good lacing. It has a huge woodsy hop aroma that can also smell piney or grassy; the hop fragrance makes you crave what’s to come (a big hop taste). The beer is medium bodied with a normal carbonation level. Immediately you will taste all hops from start to finish. They taste fresh with a woodsy hint and accompanied by that big bitterness flavor. The beer is of high quality and really hits the spot if you like IPA’s. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with chicken wings, fish and chips, or spicy meatballs.

ABV: 6.8% Color: Orange/Bronze Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 7.5/10

FLIPSIDE: 96 Points

I love it!

I love it!

This Red IPA is released seasonally in late Summer in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Just when it feels like the dog days will never end, suddenly, the switch is flipped, the air gets cooler and it’s clear that autumn is on the way. Featuring a ruby-red hue and abundant tropical fruit and citrus hop flavors, Flipside Red IPA is the perfect beer for the final flash of summer.”

My Description: Sierra Nevada created a beer that is very smooth and an excellent choice for this time of year. It begins with a large and dense, off-white colored head with an excellent retention level and it leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma smells great and is extremely inviting with strong hop notes of pine and peaches, really nice. Flipside is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. A noticeable malt backbone is exactly what a Red IPA is known for with delicious toasted malt and caramel notes. Of course, this is an IPA and should be hop forward, in which Sierra Nevada doesn’t disappoint. Clean pine hop notes and tropical hop notes take over in the finish and linger for some time. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with some citrus hops notes that makes this beer addicting. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with steak fajitas, light cheeses, or caramel cheesecake.

ABV: 6.2% Color: Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

GLISSADE: 85 Points

Gold Color, Silver Taste

This Golden Bock has an IBU of 42 and is available in the spring months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “With restrained sweetness, we emphasize subtle malt flavor, balanced against delicate aromas of spicy and floral European hops. This complex balance helps Glissade slide across the palate.”

My Description: This is a good bock that is definitely smooth and crisp but it just felt pretty average to me. The quality is great but it doesn’t separate itself from your run-of-mill bocks. The head is decent with minimal retention and little lacing. The aroma is sweet and malty with a touch of floral and citrus hops that smells pleasant. It is an overall medium to full bodied beer with a slightly higher carbonation level. Once you drink it, you will notice that it coats your mouth giving you a big beer feel. At the front of your mouth will be a more malty-sweet taste that is followed by a slightly bitter aftertaste with just a minor hint of alcohol. Overall the taste is pretty balanced but nothing special. Good everyday beer. Best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with burgers, fried fish, or grilled chicken.

ABV: 6.4% Color: Deep Gold Sweetness: 5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

GOLDEN IPA: 82 Points

Subdued IPA

Subdued IPA

This IPA is available randomly in the IPA variety box in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We’ve always had a passion for hops, but in today’s hop-heavy beer landscape it’s easy to forget where that passion came from. In the early days, one variety changed everything—the Cascade hop. It captured us then, and the flavor is still gripping: floral and grassy with a pronounced resinous pine and grapefruit aroma. Our Golden IPA pays homage to the mighty Cascade and wonderful world of hop flavor it inspired.”

My Description: I’m assuming with the name Golden IPA it is not just referring to the color but also to the Blonde/Golden Ale style beers because it is lighter bodied with a crisp texture and the flavors are rather subdued and basic. It begins with a good sized, white colored head that fades to a film holding the majority of the way leaving behind some lacing. The aroma is pleasant enough with notes of pale malts and toasted bread accompanied by citrus hops with an almost grassy-like scent. Golden IPA is light/medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Even though the alcohol is almost 6%, it still tastes light making it very easy drinking. The flavor profile isn’t fancy; notes of pine hops and some resin intermingle with toasted malts and hints of citrus hops. However, the hops don’t taste fresh like I’m used to with Sierra Nevada, they taste stale and old. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and overall nothing stands out in this ale and it is forgettable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with fish tacos, roasted vegetables, or goat cheese.

ABV: 5.9%  Color: Golden/Light Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

HOP HUNTER: 95 Points

Great everyday IPA

Great everyday IPA

This IPA is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Hop Hunter IPA harnesses the complex flavors of just-picked hops through an all-new method of steam distilling wet hops before they even leave the fields. This revolutionary technique captures and intensifies the natural flavors, creating a unique and intensely aromatic beer. Our custom process gathers pure hop oil which, when combined with traditional whole-cone hops in the brew kettle and makes for an incredible IPA experience.”

My Description: The steam distilled hop oils used in this ale taste and smell great. The hop oils smell fresh and the addition of actual hops still gives this beer that vegetative feel. It begins with a decent sized, white colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is bright and welcoming with Cascade hop notes of citrus and floral along with notes of pale malts, some grass, and pine hop notes. Hop Hunter is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Not surprisingly, this ale is hop forward with pungent notes of grapefruit, floral, and grassy hops. Some bready malt notes help to give this beer character while a lingering pine hop flavor delights the palate. The aftertaste is moderately bitter but overall this beer isn’t a bitter monster but more of a showcase for hop flavors. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with wood grilled salmon, smoked ribs, or a soft cheese.

ABV: 6.2%  Color: Gold  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 6/10

HOPTIMUM (2014): 100 points

Hop Bliss

Hop Bliss

This Imperial IPA has an IBU of 100 and is available seasonally in late Spring in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Hoptimum is a hurricane of whole-cone hop flavor. Hopped, dry hopped and torpedoed for incredible hop flavor and complexity, Hoptimum is the pinnacle of whole-cone hoppiness and the biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced. It features resinous hop varieties: Magnum, Chinook, Simcoe and a new experimental hop variety exclusive to Sierra Nevada. With intense hop flavors and aromas of grapefruit rind, pine, herbs and tropical fruit, Hoptimum is an aggressive drinking experience. Originally created as part of our Beer Camp program, Hoptimum throws down the gauntlet to all other IPAs.”

My Description: This is one of those brews where every aspect of the beer is not only amazing on its own but when paired together create a memorable drinking experience, for hop lovers at least! It pours a large, white colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma sucks you in immediately with bright tropical and grapefruit hops with a touch of pine hops. The aroma smells fresh and fills up the room. Hoptimum is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Upon first sip, you immediately feel how bitter this beer is but there still is a satisfying and apparent malt backbone that keeps everything in check. Bright hop flavors taste fresh and pronounced with notes of woodsy hops, tropical hops, and a touch of citrus. Pale malt notes are also present and the alcohol flavor is completely hidden but definitely felt. The aftertaste is high in bitterness and a surprising and welcoming hop spice note can be detected while the beer lingers slowly after you drink. This beer is masterpiece to hop heads and should be purchased immediately, make sure to get the four pack. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with aged Monteray Jack, citrus seasoned white fish, or spicy fish tacos.

ABV: 10.4%  Color: Orange/Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 8.5/10

KELLERWEIS HEFEWEIZEN:  91 Points

Beautiful Lacing

This is Sierra Nevada’s Hefeweizen and is available year-round. I’ve only found this beer in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity. Our hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sunny day. To serve, pour two-thirds into a glass, swirl and pour the rest.” Deeply complex, flavors reminiscent of ripe banana and spicy clove. Hazy golden beer glows with suspended yeast creating a velvety texture.

My Description: Nice and thick head that is white in color. The lacing is great as you can see from the picture. Once you put your nose into the glass you will instantly smell the clove and bubblegum aroma that is traditional with hefeweizens. The body is relatively light which gives the beer a smooth and refreshing feel. The hazy-golden color is beautiful and welcoming. Once the beer touches your tongue you will taste the clove and spices all the way through to the aftertaste which will linger. You will also receive a minor lemon note at the front of your mouth if you look for it. This beer is easy drinking beer with complex flavors that makes you want to keep on drinking. If you let the beer sit for about 10 minutes you will also taste a bit of honey, but this beer is best drank at around 40°F. In my personal opinion this is one of the best hefeweizens I’ve ever drank. Damn good. You can pick this up in many states at around $9-$10 for a six pack. Well worth it if you enjoy hefeweizens.

ABV: 4.8%  Color: Hazy Gold-Yellow  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

NARWHAL (2012): 95 Points

Strong sipper

Strong sipper

This Imperial Stout is released seasonally in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.”

My Description: This beer will age nicely, bringing out more dark fruit notes and the making the alcohol more mellow. I opened this bottle roughly one year after I purchased it. It pours a large, dark beige colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is bold and welcoming with notes of cocoa, dark fruits, and some roasted notes. The texture feels creamy and smooth. Narwhal is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The proportion of flavors in this ale are nicely balanced and work cleanly together. Upfront, there is a deep malt backbone accompanied by notes of molasses, tobacco, roasted malts, raisins and other dark fruits. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a delicious lingering roasted coffee note. The alcohol adds to the complexity is felt only slightly. Overall, this a great choice for an Imperial Stout. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with chocolate mousse, braised short ribs, or a raspberry cheesecake.

ABV: 10.2%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4.5/10

NOONER: 93 Points

Who would say no to one?

Who would say no to one?

This German Style Pilsner is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Gather your friends, pack the gear, and head out to wherever the day may take you. A midday go-to, Nooner is our take on the classic German-style pilsner—one of the original session beers. Nooner is easy drinking yet packed with the big flavor of spicy and floral whole-cone hops. Its brilliant golden color begs you to take a sip and sink your taste buds into an extremely welcoming beer, full of flavor and balanced by a crisp, dry finish.”

My Description: I can’t argue with how crisp and refreshing this beer is. It leans much more on the bitter side making it very easy to drink. It begins with a good sized, bright white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind some spotty lacing. The aroma smells great and clean with a strong noble hop character and notes of hop spice and floral hops along with a touch of pale malts. Nooner is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a very dry finish. Noble hop notes take center stage, which taste slightly spicy, and are accompanied by notes of bread, pale malts, and herbal hops. This transitions smoothly to the aftertaste that is moderately bitter and lingers for some time. There is nothing fancy about this beer and each component works harmoniously together to deliver a great session beer. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with cured ham, Portobello mushrooms, grilled Mahi Mahi.

ABV: 5.2%  Color: Straw/Gold  Sweetness: 1.5/10  Bitterness: 4.5/10

OKTOBERFEST: 84 Points

Respectable Version

Respectable Version

This Oktoberfest/Märzen is released seasonally in the Autumn Variety Pack in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Germany’s Oktoberfest celebrated a royal marriage and the health of the fall harvest—which in Bavaria, means brewers, barley and hops! Today, Oktoberfest is considered one of the world’s greatest parties, and in honor of that rollicking bash we bring you our version of the classic festival beer. Oktoberfest is medium-bodied and rich with bready and toffee-like malt flavor but maintains a crisp finish marked by floral and spicy hops.”

My Description: Sierra Nevada’s version of this popular style is easy drinking, very smooth, and enjoyable but the flavors in this beer do not satisfy me like their German counterparts. It begins with a large and dense, off-white colored head that lasts the whole way through leaving behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is malt forward with notes of caramel, toasted bread, and some nuttiness. Oktoberfest is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile tastes just like it smells with rich malt notes dominating accompanied by toasted bread and soft floral hop hints. The beer also comes off a bit roasty with an earthy presence that adds a bit of character but not necessarily needed. A minimal bitter aftertaste is welcoming but the malt notes continue to linger as this beer is more on the sweet side. This is a nice take on an Oktoberfest but nothing memorable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with German sausage, mild Cheddar cheese, or apple strudel.

ABV: 6.2%  Color: Deep Amber  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

OTRA VEZ: 93 Points

Again and again

Again and again

This Fruit Ale/Gose is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “On our search for the perfect warm weather beer, we wanted something light bodied and thirst quenching, yet filled with complex and interesting flavors. We stumbled across the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, native to California. This tangy fruit is a great complement to the tart and refreshing traditional gose style beer. Otra Vez combines prickly pear cactus with a hint of grapefruit for a refreshing beer that will have you calling for round after round. Otra Vez!”

My Description: This beer crisp with a delightful and easy drinking body, this is an easy choice for a session ale. It begins with a large, white colored head that lasts for some time leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and bright with notes of citrus fruits, some barnyard presence, and a hint of salt. Otra Vez is lighter bodied with a moderately higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is refreshing and follows the nose closely. Crisp fruit notes accompany a slightly tart barnyard feel. Grapefruit and other citrus notes can be detected along with an interesting fruit note that I guess would be the cactus fruit. The flavors blend nicely together to deliver a tasty and satisfying quencher. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with grilled mahi, Thai noodles, or a light salad.

ABV: 4.5%  Color: Pale Yellow  Sweetness: 1.5/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

PALE ALE: 93 Points

Classic

Classic

This American Pale Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. cans and bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Pale Ale began as a home brewer’s dream, grew into an icon, and inspired countless brewers to follow a passion of their own. Its unique piney and grapefruit aromas from the use of whole-cone American hops have fascinated beer drinkers for decades and made this beer a classic, yet it remains new, complex and surprising to thousands of beer drinkers every day. It is—as it always has been—all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold.”

My Description: As classic as they come, this beer highlights the Cascade hops that made the West Coast so popular with beer drinkers. It pours a decent sized, off-white colored head that dissipates quickly to a thin film that leaves behind hardly any lacing. The aroma is subtle but the pine hop notes definitely come through along with hints of bread and light citrus notes. Pale Ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Easy drinking and clean, the flavor profile satisfies. I like the balance of this beer. Malty upfront with pine hop notes but this ale quickly transitions into a moderately bitter finish that lingers slightly. This makes for a great everyday pale ale that you can’t go wrong with. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with BBQ chicken, grilled sausage, or your favorite burger.

ABV: 5.6%  Color: Dark Gold/Amber  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

RUTHLESS RYE: 98 Points

Ruthless = Delicious

This Rye IPA has an IBU of 55 and is available seasonally for the spring in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed with rustic grains for refined flavors—combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole-cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to spring.”

My Description: I love the rye addition to this beer, it adds a hint of spice while still delivering a world-class IPA taste. It has a big and fluffy off-white colored head that leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The retention is also great, leaving some head to the very last sip. The aroma is clean and fresh with a big citrus hop nose and a minor woodsy hop scent as well. The taste is where this beer stands apart from the rest. The ingredients taste fresh and of high quality, the flavors work really well together, and it tastes just as good from start to finish. It begins with a creamy, big mouthful taste with flavor notes of spice, grain, and a hint of hops. The hops here are mainly for bittering and not so much for flavoring. The finish is strongly bitter and slightly dry with no alcohol taste. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with steaks, lamb chops, or a quality cigar.

ABV: 6.6% Color: Smokey Quartz Sweetness: 1/10 Bitterness: 7/10

SUMMERFEST: 87 Points

Nice Summer Lager

This Lager is available in 12 oz. bottles in the Summer season.

Brewer’s Description: “Our Summerfest® is a refreshing, pilsner-style lager. Its incredible smoothness comes from an extra-long lagering period. Lighter in body than our ales but just as complex in character, Summerfest® quenches your thirst with big aroma and a tangy hop bite.”

My Description: This is a pretty good lager; the flavors work nice together, it is refreshing, and easy drinking. It has a large, white colored head with a really good retention level and a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is fresh and pleasant with notes of floral hops, light malt, grass, and a touch of spice. It is roughly light/medium in body with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Up front, flavors include a mild malt taste accompanied by a delicious floral hop flavor which leads into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and crisp. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with burgers, fish & chips, or grilled shrimp.

ABV: 5% Color: Clear Straw Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3/10

TORPEDO: 96 Points

Big and Bitter

 This Double IPA has an IBU of 65. It is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a big American IPA; bold, assertive, and full of flavor highlighting the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.”

My Description: You have to really enjoy the bitter taste of hops to get into IPA’s. I enjoy the bitter taste, which is why I really enjoyed this beer, bitter all the way. It has a fluffy off-white colored head that retains very well and leaves great lacing. The aroma is filled with hops, citrus and piney, with a slight hint of malt. It is roughly medium/full bodied and nicely carbonated. The taste is nothing surprising, it is big and bitter. However, it is the quality of the taste that separates this beer from other Double IPA’s. The hops taste fresh with a bit of a woodsy/citrusy flavor to them. It is smooth and refreshing with a slight hint of malt and no apparent alcohol taste. The finish has a lingering bitter profile that satisfies. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with burgers, Thai food, or ribs.

ABV: 7.2%  Color: Light Bronze  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 8/10

TUMBLER: 92 Points

Autumn is a great season

This Brown Ale has an IBU of 37 and is available in the early Autumn months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We use malt within days of roasting at the peak of its flavor to give Tumbler a gracefully smooth malt character. So pour a glass, and grab a window seat to watch as the leaves come tumbling down.”

My Description: Tumbler may remind you of other brown ales, however this brown ale will stand out because the quality shines through and the touch of smoke malts helps to define the season that it is brewed in. It has a great sized, light beige colored head with a good retention level and leaves behind some good lacing. The aroma is warming and welcoming with notes of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a touch of coffee. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a rather dry finish. Immediately you will notice the strong roasted malt taste that dominates the flavor profile. This is accompanied by flavor notes of some smoky malts, chocolate, and a touch of pine hops. The beer is smooth, delicious, and the alcohol is invisible making Tumbler a very easy drinking beer. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, baked ham, or a dark chocolate dessert.

ABV: 5.5%  Color: Dark Brown  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

VIENNA: 89 Points

Excellent Autumn Lager

Excellent Autumn Lager

This Vienna Lager is released seasonally in Autumn in the Fall Variety Pack in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Vienna-style beers are among the world’s first light-colored lagers and were on the brink of extinction until American craft brewers helped revive the style; it’s a good thing they did. These delicate and extremely balanced amber beers rely on semi-sweet and bready malt flavors but walk a fine line with both malt and hop character shouldering equal weight. Our take on the style features whole-cone European hops, which add to the dry finish.”

My Description: This is a great lager for the season; there is a good level of depth in the taste, it’s satisfying on those cool nights, and even the color of the beer reminds me of Fall. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with an excellent retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is faint but there are pleasing notes of bready malts, biscuits, and floral hops. Vienna is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is nicely balanced with sweet malt notes upfront transitioning cleanly into a slightly bitter finish that lingers for a second. This beer also has a nutty presence throughout along with some bread notes and hints of hop spice. This beer is easy drinking, smooth, and overall a pleasure to drink. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with beef tacos, roasted chicken, or baked squash.

ABV: 5.3%  Color: Amber/Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

ESTATE HOMEGROWN: 96 Points

Gotta Love Homegrown

This IPA has a limited release and is available in 750 ml. bottles. “From our fields comes a remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery here in Chico.”

Brewer’s Description: “This Estate Ale is rich with the flavors of the valley—featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors.”

My Description: You can definitely taste the quality of these ingredients, from the malt to the hops. It starts off with a big and fluffy, light tan colored head that retains greatly and produces great lacing. The aroma is mild with a touch of sweetness and grapefruit hops. The smell is welcoming and clean. The beer is medium bodied, smooth, with a good carbonation level. The flavors are nicely balanced and the beer tastes fresh. You will get flavor notes of malty sweetness (caramel) intertwined with a earthy hop flavor that is of moderate bitterness. The fresh hops gives the beer an almost hop oil presence that makes a nice addition. The finish will leave your lips wet with a lingering bitter feel. Overall, the beer has a great mouth-feel and is easy drinking. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with beef brisket, vegetable pizza, or a good burger.

ABV: 6.7%  Color: Reddish/Brown  Sweetness: 3.5/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10

HARVEST SINGLE HOP (Yakima #291): 97 Points

A delicious hop

A delicious hop

This IPA is part of their Single Hop series and is available in limited quantities in 20 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Whole-cone hops, the whole time—our philosophy since the beginning. We use hops in their purest form, and we’re fortunate to get first crack at some of the rare and exciting varietals new to brew kettles. This single-hop IPA showcases newly developed hop 291’s fruity, berry-like aromas, complex floral character and hints of pepper. This intriguing varietal kicks off our five-bottle Harvest series which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers.”

My Description: Sierra Nevada did a great job highlighting this hop by creating a delicious and clean beer. By creating an IPA, as opposed to something like a Stout, all the hop notes from the aroma to the taste really shine through. It begins with a large and dense, white colored head that lasts forever and leaves behind an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma smells amazing and woodsy, this hop delivers notes of pine and floral along with a hint of hop spice. Some grain notes can also be detected in the aroma. Harvest Single Hop is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Of course the flavor profile is going to be hop forward but there is definitely a welcoming malt backbone that comes through nicely and smoothly. This hop delivers many notes from citrus to pine to a minor note of floral. Hints of spice linger throughout and the alcohol is completely hidden. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and will linger. Dank yet delicate, this hop gives this beer a tasty and addicting personality. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with steak tacos, an arugula salad, or aged cheddar.

ABV: 6.5%  Color: Deep Gold/Orange  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 6/10

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE HARVEST: 95 POINTS

Northern Goodness

This IPA uses freshly picked hops from the state of Washington to produce a beer with around 65 IBU’s. It is released in limited quantities in 24 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Created in 1996, Harvest Ale features Cascade and Centennial hops from the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington. These hops are harvested and shipped as “wet” un-dried hops—the same day they are picked.”

My Description: I enjoy the wet hopped IPA’s every now and then if they are done right, and this is definitely done right. It has a big and fluffy light tan colored head. The retention quality is great and the lacing is superb. The aroma is so nice, it feels like you are smelling floral and citrus hops right off the vine, with a slight touch of malt. It is more of a medium bodied beer with a crisp carbonation level making this an easy drinking ale. There is some malt presence in the beer but it is slightly more bitter than the Southern Hemisphere Harvest. You will feel the hop oils coat your mouth leaving a smooth and pleasant bitter finish. Overall this beer is of high quality and is best served around 45°F. It pairs nicely with grilled chicken, burgers, or fried shrimp.

ABV: 6.7%  Color: Hazy Brown  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 6.5/10

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE HARVEST: 94 Points

From New Zealand With Love

This IPA uses freshly picked hops from New Zealand to achieve an IBU of 66. It is released in limited quantities in 24 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “The fresh hops in this beer are dried right after being picked then shipped immediately to Chico for brewing so that they retain their peak aromatics and flavors.”

My Description: Sierra Nevada deserves some credit for getting these hops from New Zealand so quick, but then you still have to create great beer, which they did. It has a big and fluffy, light tan colored head that has an amazing retention and leaves some good lacing. Seriously, the head holds the whole way. The aroma smells great, a mild and fresh dose of floral/citrus hops with a touch of grassy hops. There is also a hint of malt in there as well. It is roughly medium bodied with a crisp carbonation level. Clearly you are going to be tasting hops throughout but there is also a good caramel malt presence to add some sweetness. Hops taste fresh with flavor notes of woodsy hops, citrus hops, and earthy hops. The finish will leave your lips wet with a slightly harsh lingering bitterness. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with BBQ chicken pizza, Rib-eye, or a good burger.

ABV: 6.7%  Color: Hazy Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 6/10

 ÓVILA DUBBEL: 97 Points

Óvila Dubbel

This Belgian Dubbel is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and The Abbey of New Clairvaux.  It was released in March, 2011 in 750 ml. bottles.  A portion of the sales goes towards restoring the Santa Maria de Óvila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

Brewer’s Description:  “Óvila Abbey Dubbel features a complex and rich malty sweetness with hints of caramelized sugar.  The aroma is a heady and layered mix of fruit and spice with hints of clove and black pepper from the unique Belgian-style yeast.”

My Description:  This is a well done dubbel, I’ve tried several dubbels and this definitely competes with the best, including the Trappist Dubbel’s.  The head is dense and foamy with an off-white color.  The head produces minimal lacing but does leave a film on top of the beer for around 15-20 minutes.  The aroma is mild, sweet, pleasant, and smells fresh with notes of spices.  Once you start drinking this ale is when you really understand why it is rated as high as it is.  First off, dubbels were originally created for monks to drink during fasting so they could get their nutrients and fill their bellies.  Well this beer lives up to tradition, it is medium to heavy bodied and you can substitute this for a meal, if you drink the whole bottle which I did; it is easy to do so because this beer is delicious.  I began drinking this around 40°F, which is a good place to start, and I immediately noticed the sweet malty taste which is accompanied by a spicy/black pepper aftertaste which is crisp and refreshing.  The body is smooth and I could not pick up a hint of alcohol which goes to show the quality of this ale.  As the beer warms, a more roasted malt flavor develops which gives this dubbel an almost bread-like flavor and body.  This is so good, I enjoyed it the same from when the cork popped to the last sip. This bottle is around $12-$14.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Medium Brown/Red Tint  Sweetness:  5.5/10  Bitterness:  1.5/10

ÓVILA GOLDEN: 93 Points

Warning, cork will fly right off!

This Belgian Golden Ale is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and The Abbey of New Clairvaux. It was first released in June, 2012 in 750 ml. bottles. A portion of the sales goes towards restoring the Santa Maria de Óvila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

Brewer’s Description: “It is brilliant golden and layered with notes of summery apple and pear and pepperv spice from the use of a traditional Belgian yeast strain. At first glance, this golden ale may seem delicate, but as it warms, its full flavor and dry, drinkability character come into focus.”

My Description: This beer has a strong carbonation presence, which you will soon find out after removing the metal casing over the cork. Once that fun experience is put to the side, this beer tastes great and is right on with the style. It has a big and fluffy, off-white colored head that retains well enough producing a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is delicate with malt undertones accompanied by faint notes of citrus, bubblegum, and light fruits. It is medium bodied with a high carbonation level and a dry finish. It has a nice and refreshing taste with notes of malt, apples, and other light fruits. The aftertaste has some bitterness in it with a welcoming spice addition. The texture is almost creamy and the alcohol is nicely hidden to the point where you can’t even taste it, but you will feel it. This beer is very easy to drink and is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled chicken salads, hummus, or roasted duck.

ABV: 8.5% Color: Hazy Gold Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10

ÓVILA SAISON: 92 Points

Farmhouse Love

This Farmhouse Saison is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and The Abbey of New Clairvaux.  It was released in June, 2011 in 750 ml. bottles.  A portion of the sales goes towards restoring the Santa Maria de Óvila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

Brewer’s Description:  “Hazy blonde in color, these rustic ales are designed to be complex and contemplative but also refreshing and drinkable after a day in the fields. With earthy and spicy aromas this Saison has notes of green grass, and a faint citrus tang. The body is light and layered with fruit and spice accents and a dry, peppery, and refreshing finish.”

My Description: This is a nicely done saison that is super smooth and really enjoyable. It starts off with an amazing head that is huge and fluffy like a cloud that stays around for a while but produces minimal lacing. The aroma is earthy with some citrus and grass notes that is accompanied by some minor spice. It also has the fragrance of Belgian yeast that is similar to the aroma of a Belgian Wit Ale.  The body feels light and is highly carbonated. It starts off with a nice and mellow earth flavor that is accompanied by some grassy notes and citrus notes.  You will also pick up on some spice as well and I couldn’t taste or smell and alcohol which is nice because if this is an everyday beer it needs to drink like one. The aftertaste is where this beer shines. It is semi-dry with a pepper flavor that is refreshing and delicious. Everything about this beer screams quality. It is well done and enjoyable. It is best served around 40°F and would pair nicely with salads, ratatouille, or fish. The bottle is around $13.

ABV: 7.0%  Color: Hazy Light Orange  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 1/10

ÓVILA QUAD: 94 Points

Quadruple

This Quadruple is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and The Abbey of New Clairvaux. It was first released in November, 2011 in 750 ml. bottles. A portion of the sales goes towards restoring the Santa Maria de Óvila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux.

Brewer’s Description: “This silky ale is rich, mahogany brown in color with a velvety malt aroma, spiked with hints of dried cherry, fig, raisin, and plum notes. A full and creamy body offers layers of flavor including a perfume-like wave of intense dark fruits and caramel-like maltiness.”

My Description: This Quadruple is big, strong, and a very appreciated addition to the Óvila family. The head is light beige in color and bubbly with some decent retentive qualities producing minor lacing. The aroma is sweet and malty with a rich caramel note accompanied by some yeast, raisin, alcohol, and some minor vanilla. The aroma is complex and lovely, definitely worth every breath. This ale is full bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level. In the front of your mouth you will taste the sweet malty flavors with notes of dark fruits like raisins and plums. You will taste some alcohol notes and some spice notes as well. It is a sweeter beer but has a very slight bitter addition in the aftertaste that is most welcoming. The flavors and quality of this beer are top notch, pick it up. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with glazed duck, lamb chops, or Thanksgiving dinner.

ABV: 10.4%  Color: Dark Brown/Mahogany  Sweetness: 5/10  Bitterness: 2/10

ÓVILA QUAD WITH PLUMS: 93 Points

Sweet Plums

Sweet Plums

This is a limited release Quad ale and is available in 4-packs.

Brewer’s Description: “Ovila Abbey Quad is heady with aromas of caramel, rich malt, and dark fruit balanced by the spiciness and delicate fruity notes of a traditional Belgian yeast. This complex beer is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. It features sugar plums grown on the grounds of the Abbey and harvested by the monks in Vina. We hope you enjoy this collaboration ale.”

My Description: The idea of brewing with plums make sense since plum notes may natural occur in Belgian Quads.  However, this addition makes the plum notes undeniable, and the beer tasty. First off, it has a good sized, beige colored head that fades to a film but holds and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is on the sweeter side with sugar notes and plums. There is also a hint of alcohol and yeast spice. It is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is complex and also on the sweeter side. Plums are instantly recognizable and add a pleasing character along side other dark fruit notes, a clean yeast flavor, and a caramel back bone. The alcohol is beautifully hidden but will be felt. The aftertaste is minimally bitter and does nothing to balance out the sweetness of this beer. This beer is definitely worth checking out but may be a bit sweet for some palates. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with Gouda cheese, smoked game meat, or a plum-walnut tart.

ABV: 10.2%  Color: Dark Chocolate Brown  Sweetness: 5/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10