Hey craft beer drinker, good news! It
seems that these days more and more beer drinkers are hopping on the “good
beer” bandwagon. And that’s a good thing, to be sure. The Brewers
Association in Colorado reports that 2005 craft beer sales were up about 9%
over 2004 craft beer sales. And we can all drink to that.
Of course, that begs the question, just what is craft beer? That would be beer made by microbrewers (those brewing 15,000 barrels a year and under), brewpubs, national “good beer” brands like Samuel Adams and regionals like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Sierra Nevada was one of the very first “craft” beers I ever drink oh those many years ago (over twenty now). The brewery has expanded greatly since then, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the most widely recognized craft beers around, with good distribution throughout the land.
Still, Sierra Nevada makes other beers besides the pale ale in keeping with the craft brewery theme. Many of these are bottled, but a few “special” brews are hard to find, draft only treats that are to be pounced upon whenever they’re seen.
Such is the case with Sierra Nevada IPA. This is a beer I don’t see often, but when I do, I’ll make a special trip to enjoy some. Sure, it’s not an over the top hop monster like many American IPAs these days. Instead, it’s a more traditional India Pale Ale in the English sense. Sort of like a souped up Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, if you will.
Sierra Nevada IPA is brewed with English malts and finished with traditional Goldings hops (Magnums are used early on). Just the other day I had the pleasure of enjoying a pint, and thought I would share my feelings with you.
Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale pours to an orange amber color with a light creamy head formation and a surprisingly restrained hop nose. A thick layer of Brussels lace clings to the side of the glass as you sip and the liquid descends.
When I sip, I get some slightly chewy, caramelly malt at first. Then the hops appear, a little minty, very grassy, gentle at first but they do increase in intensity into the finish, which is long and dry. And that bitterness lingers slightly on the tongue.
By hophead standards, this isn’t a hugely hoppy beer, but it does have a beautiful English hop character to it. The bitterness is definitely there, though, and might be too much for the novice beer drinker. My Beloved Barbara loves a pint of Sierra Nevada, but found this beer to be too bitter for her liking.
I, however, could easily drink it all night. But don’t take my word for it. Hop on down to your local multitap and order up a pint. Or pick up a six-pack at the liquor store (it's now in bottles for 2007). And do your part to make this an even better year for beer.
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.