Sierra Nevada in the house! I always like it when a brewery I really like comes to town to show off their beers! I really like it when they bring some new ones I have never tried before! That was the case when Sierra Nevada took over the taps at the Daily Pint on a recent Thursday night. They brought in nine of their beers and three of them I had never tried yet! Happy days!
They brought with them their Kellerweiss, Summerfest Lager, FOAM Pilsner, Their flagship Pale Ale, Blindfold Black IPA, Torepedo IPA, Hoptimum Imperial IPA, a Belgian Blond IPA and the new Ovila Manderin Saison. I decided that I would taste and write my impression of the three new beers I had never tried plus the Ovila Saison, which I had only had out of the bottle, and that was recently.
Up first was the FOAM Pilsner, the history of this beer is that it was intended to be served on draft at music festivals for the band PHISH but has recently been given wider release. The beer poured an amber gold color with an off color head. The lace dissipated fairly quickly and the color is dark for a pilsner. It had a solid crisp malt nose with hints of hops and citrus present. The mouth-feel was medium bodied with good effervescent qualities but still on the heavy side for the style. It tasted quite malty and crisp, very biscuit-y with a hint of corn followed by a hint of hop citrus. It had good acidity and a dry finish. Although I felt this beer was closer to an ale then a pilsner in that it was a little heavy for the pilsner style, I found it to be very drinkable and quite enjoyable. I recommended it to several friends.
Next up was the Ovila Abbey Saison with mandarin oranges and peppercorns. Sierra Nevada calls this beer an homage to the monks’ noble work, this unique farmhouse ale is incredibly complex with notes of lemon, pepper, straw and herbs balanced by the tang of Mandarin oranges and a spicy kick of pepper. The Mandarin oranges used to make this beer were locally grown, including a portion grown on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux and picked by hand by the community of monks living there. The beer poured a dark copper color with a hint of head that stayed in place well. The hint of hops and orange is very forward in the nose and competes with the scent of saison yeast with just a hint of peppercorns following behind. It had a huge solid taste profile, almost aggressive and very complex. It is slightly acidic and a good malty backbone holds up well to the flavor complexity of the yeast and citrus components. I could not actually tell it was mandarin orange in the beer and that shows how well they balanced the ingredients, the peppercorns make their appearance in the finish leaving a dry spicy note. Overall this is a big aggressive saison that shows off its complexity and will stand up to aging in the bottle.
Then I tried the Belgian Style Blond IPA. I have not heard much background information about this beer, it could be a beer camp release perhaps? It poured an amber gold color with a good white head and the lace had strong retention, it was all about the candi sugar, Belgian yeast notes of clove and banana in the nose. The mouth-feel was medium bodied but effervescent. It tasted very Belgian with the yeast profile being prominent, good clove and banana flavors present with just a hint of hop bitterness and flavor with a touch of citrus and orange. I was guessing that the hint of citrus came from the use of Styrian Golding hops used in the brewing of the beer? Someday I hope to confirm if that is true. Overall this was a very refreshing pint but for an IPA it is a fabulous Belgian beer!
Last I tried the new camp beer called Blindfold IPA. It is a black IPA, Sierra Nevada likens this beer to “blanket us in darkness while maintaining a light body and bold hop character”. It poured quite dark, near black with a good thick coffee colored head, the lace retention was solid and clingy, you could float a penny on this beer! The smell was noticeably malty almost coffee like, very roasty but it was missing the aggressive hop note, the hops were lost in the malt on this one. The mouth-feel was bright and refreshing, which was shocking given the color and maltyness present, yet it was VERY drinkable! The taste was solid malt backbone with roast grains present with hints of oak and dark coffee, then the hops make their presence known as the malt is balanced by good hop bitterness and resiny finish. As a brewer of Black IPA’s I like them to be like a tasty IPA only black, this IPA leans more towards the celebration of dark malt style black IPA’s but do not consider that a criticism, this is the beer that I had to have more of!
Lucky for me that these beers were still on the next night when we gather for Friday beers as I then got to drink the Kellerweiss and the Hoptimum. I tell people that I think the Kellerweiss is one of the best bottom fermented weiss beers commercially available made by a US brewer. With all of these examples and samples, Sierra Nevada has once again shown why they are one of of the leading brewers in California.
Cheers until next time!