So, how old is your favorite microbrewery? Five years
old? Ten? Fifteen at most? When it comes to American craft brewers, its safe
to say that very few can cite a history as long as that of Chico,
California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Founded in 1980, the company is
truly no longer a microbrewery, and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s now
considered a regional brewery, albeit one that distributes its beer
For 2007, Sierra Nevada is releasing its Anniversary Ale in bottles for the very first time, and distributing it far and wide, much to the delight of beer enthusiasts everywhere. The brewery describes it as an American IPA, and it certainly has the hop character for that appellation.
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale pours to a bright orange amber color with a thick creamy head formation and a robustly resiny hop nose. A quick sip reveals the kind of firm malt body that is essential to a beer like this. Slightly chewy, rich caramel malt coats the tongue upon sipping and sets the stage for the hops. And they don’t take long to make their presence known, creeping up on you softly and then steadily increasing with a piney, grassy herbal bitterness that literally explodes on the tongue in the finish. Despite that, a bit of sweet malt still manages to poke through, too.
There’s a lot of herbal, flowery Cascade hop aroma here, too, that permeates the beer, especially as it warms in your glass. All this works very nicely against the malt body and makes this a truly delightful hop blast. Anniversary Ale is most assuredly more hoppy than the standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale , and even reaches to the levels of the legendary Celebration Ale
Both Celebration and Anniversary Ale use the Chinook hop for bittering, but it seems to be more pronounced in the Anniversary Ale. The time at which the hops are added can make all the difference, and quantities may well be different. Both ales use Cascades as well and both are dry-hopped with them. Celebration also uses Centennials, however, both in the boil and for dry-hopping. And although Celebration has a higher IBU rating (62 to 46 for the Anniversary Ale), it also has a higher original gravity, which will serve to balance off some of that bitterness.
Obviously, this is a beer for hopheads, but don’t let that fool you: if you enjoy Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, you’ll probably enjoy this, too. But be forewarned: this is a fall seasonal beer, and once it’s gone, its gone. And after waiting 27 years to get it in bottles, you wouldn’t want to miss out on it, would you?
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.