Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Craft Beer Crosscut 1.10.19: A Flight of Sierra Nevada Brewing

Ron Swarner


Beer-Flights-Logo-no-wordsNov. 15, 1980: 26-year-old Ken Grossman brewed his first commercial beer, four years after launching his home-brewing hobby. There were just 40 breweries of all makes in the country, with sales dominated by Coors, Miller, and Budweiser. From modest beginnings on a 10-barrel brew system, Grossman now owns and operates the largest independent brewery in America ― Sierra Nevada Brewing. Grossman’s first batch, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, boasted 36 IBUs, at least thrice as high as Bud Light. Peaks and Pints doesn’t know how many times we’ve heard someone say they tried a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on a whim in the 1980s, and that was all she wrote. Sierra was their introduction to the world of craft beer. The bitter hops were a palate shocker — a proverbial beer awakening. In celebration of tonight’s release party for Sierra Nevada’s Resilience Butte County Proud IPA — a benefit for the devastating Camp Fire that destroyed a good chunk of Northern California — Peaks and Pints presents a flight of Sierra Nevada craft beers, Craft Beer Crosscut 1.10.19: A Flight of Sierra Nevada Brewing.

Craft Beer Crosscut 1.10.19: A Flight of Sierra Nevada Brewing

Sierra-Nevada-Sierraveza-TacomaSierra Nevada Sierraveza

5% ABV, 18 IBU

Inspired by the classic cervezas served ice-cold on a Mexican beach, Sierra Nevada created their take on the easy-drinking lager. Light and crisp, this American lager has a woody, spicy hop aroma supported by traces of unsalted oyster crackers. The beer offers a balance of citrusy hops, light fruit and crackery malt pulled together by a moderate soft bitterness. The beer is clean and crisp with a medium light body and medium carbonation.

Sierra-Nevada-Storied-Golden-Ale-TacomaSierra Nevada Storied Golden Ale

6.5% ABV

Buffalo Wild Wings asked craft beer legends Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman, New Belgium founder Kim Jordan and Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione each to brew a golden ale for their restaurants. Hop-forward and juicy, Sierra Nevada Storied Golden Ale shows off the best of new school hops, El Dorado and Amarillo, giving the beer a punch of citrus and tropical fruit flavor, while oats create a hazy appearance and a silky smooth mouthfeel.

Sierra-Nevada-Pale-Ale-TacomaSierra Nevada Pale Ale

5.6% ABV, 38 IBU

Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale has been the beer drinker’s gateway craft brew for more than 37 years. Peaks and Pints doesn’t know how many times we’ve heard someone tell us that, for some reason, they ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at a bar instead of a Bud or Coors. And that this seemingly insignificant decision in their life was transcendent. No longer would they settle for watered-down corporate beer. Sierra was their introduction to the world of craft. To the possibility of bitter hop flavors. It was a palate shocker. The proverbial beer awakening. BTW, generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.

Sierra-Nevada-Celebration-Ale-TacomaSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

6.8% ABV, 65 IBU

Now that it’s wintertime, where do all the hops go? They’re currently hibernating in this yearly seasonal from California’s Sierra Nevada Brewery. In the midst of the many big and malty winter ales, Celebration Ale provides a comfortable winter home for the season’s displaced hops. A little darker than the average American IPA, this ale has a citrusy, piney and resinous hop character and a medium body.

Sierra-Nevada-Torpedo-Extra-IPA-TacomaSierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

7.2% ABV, 65 IBU

On a bar napkin in the early 2000s, Ken Grossman and his Sierra Nevada crew sketched a new way to dry hop beer. Traditional dry hopping uses nylon sacks stuffed with hops and suspended in the tank. We found that as we removed the hop sacks, even after weeks suspended in beer, we’d occasionally find the center to be dry, meaning that the hops never came in contact with the beer. Sierra Nevada thought there had to be a better way and in 2009 that idea became a reality with the invention of the Hop Torpedo. The Torpedo is a stainless steel device packed with whole-cone hops and sealed against pressure. Fermenting beer is circulated out of a fermenter, through the column of hops, and back into the fermentation tank. This circulation method is easily manipulated through time, temperature and speed. They can control what types of flavors and aromas they extract from the hops and how those aromas will appear in the finished beer. The Chico brewery fired up its hop torpedo and brewed Torpedo Extra IPA. The device’s namesake beer is an aggressive yet balanced beer with massive hop aromas of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit.