Are You Tasting the Pith? - 8th May 05
I was surprised, after re-reading portions of this site, that I hadn't yet lavished any hyperbolic praise on the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This is a serious omission, as it is without doubt one of the more exciting micro" breweries in the USA. For innovation, it ranks second only to the Broklyn Brewing Co., and dare I suggest that Sierra Nevada beers tend to me a little more accessible? Perhaps, although for me, Brooklyn still has it for character by a whisker.
Siera Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale (9.6% abv) is a year-dated brew that distills the very essence of the Sierra Nevada style. It is deep, ruddy-copper colour, slightly viscous (as many strong beers are), and quite an assault on the senses from the off. The big burst of hop aroma fills the room as you pour the beer, mouthwatering in its pungency, and lending an intense, dusty dryness to the nose. On the palate, the initial impression is of intensity - a powerful fruity malt body, with its slight sweetness immediately attenuated by an intense, dry hoppiness. The finish blossoms into a bittersweet orange marmalade flavour, with hints of smokines lurking in the background. Wonderful, and one of those great beers that whereby one reaches satiety long before capacity.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6% abv) is a much lighter, more drinkable cousin of Bigfoot, although this is really damning it with faint praise. Attractive to the eye, nose and palate, this beer demonstrates great structure and balance, from the first dry sip to the long, gently bittering finish. If there was ever a beer that epitomises the phrase "orange-pithy hop bitterness" (which, incidentally, I rate very highly as a quality in a beer), then this is it. A firm favourite, and a classic with genuine broad appeal.
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