Life and Limb Rhizing Bines from @SierraNevada and @dogfishbeer

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I’ve had good luck with beers from both Sierra Nevada and DogFish Head, but I’ve never had one of their collaborations. When I read about this release, I was eager to try it. It’s a double IPA and I’m a big fan. It’s using some expiermental hops, something as a homebrewer always piques my interest. You never know which HBC will become the next Amarillo or Simcoe.

The beer is sold in 750ml bottles, in the new Dogfish head bottles. I have to admit I’m not impressed with custom bottle molds, this one pours kinda funny, and looks strange too. However the label has a real nice look to it.

The beer glugs from the bottle, raising a foamy head, typical for a hoppy ale. The beer is not bottle conditioned and pours crystal clear and golden. There isn’t a citrus note from the it’s much more woody, floral, and earthy. It’s not your typical west coast ipa, citrus and pine, and I’m kind of disappointed. The body is fine, not overly thick, not syrupy, but the hop flavors I can’t get beyond. I taste mellon, and woody, and theres a faint soapy taste. I even dumped part of a glass, and washed my glass to ensure I didn’t have some sort of residue in my glass tainting the beer. Alas it was just the flavor. 

Vital Stats: Served at 45F in a willi beecher. 8% ABV.

Taste: B- Atypical for a west coast ipa, plenty hoppy, just not the right kind.

Drinkability B+: Subltle for 8%, not hot or too thick.

Packaging: A-. Some info, hop variety, bottled on date, and nice technique info (continuous hopping and torpedo). Missing IBU, and it’s got the funky bottle, that maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t like.  

Value: B. It’s a solid beer, some hop flavors don’t agree with some people, this is one of those beers for me.  

 

 

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Enjoying the Estate ale by Sierra Nevada

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It seems like every season Sierra Nevada has a release that’s interesting enough for one of us to check out. Jim’s earlier review peaked my interest in the fresh hop ales from Sierra. When I spotted this at my local craft beer store for 7.99 in a large format bottle, I had to pick it up. The Label, and wax dipped bottle are eye catching at a reasonable price point. While not as fresh as it could be, released in early October, but I don’t think this beer suffers for it. Beyond the label, and the fact it’s a fresh hop ale, the locavore in me is excited to note this beer is crafted from organic grains and hops grown on the Sierra Nevada Estate. This is Impressive, but not unheard of in this time of sustainability, and Sierra Nevada is known in the industry as one of the thought leaders in the sustainable brewing movement.

Light Golden orange, one of my favorite colors for a beer. There is lots of lacing, and a thin fine head that has persisted the entire time I’ve been drafting this review. This is a real easy beer to enjoy. It’s not hop forward, thin or watery. It has a slight grassy flavor, can be attributed to the use of fresh hops. The aroma of this beer is flowery, grassy, and midly grainy much like the flavor. As Derek pointed out fresh hop beers don’t generally have the same hop punch of traditional IPA’s or Pale ales, the roundness, and subtleness is more the calling card.

To summarize, this is another fine Sierra Nevada offering, if you find it fresh, it’s a worth while beer.

Vitals: Served at 45F in a Perfect Pint. 6.7% ABV. Organic, estate grown hops.

Taste: B+. Simple, enjoyable, neither fruity, or overly bitter.

Drinkability: A. No problem enjoying this large format bottle, looking for more.

Packaging: B. Elegant and beautiful, but missing what I’d consider the important details. No grain, hop varitals, or bottled / brewed date.

Value: B+ 7.99 a bottle bigger than a bomber is a reasonable price to pay for an organic fresh hop ale.

 

Craft Beer Threesome! Sierra Nevada Narwhal #stoutday

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When I mentioned I had a bottle of Sierra Nevada Narwhal to review for #stoutday, Chad and Matt quickly suggested we do a 3-in-1 review. So get your heads out of the gutter. This review is strictly PG. 

I’ll offer my pics/insights and then pass the baton to Chad. Matt will wrap up the post and hopefully this post hits before the end of the day. 

This beer wasn’t even on my radar until my local beer guy pointed it out and suggested I give it a try. Who am I to say no? 

It pours a deep, dark black. I was able to coax a nice, tight head in the pour and it lingers nicely, leaving nice lacing on the glass. 

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It honestly doesn’t give me a lot in the bouquet. Very slight coffee, a little bit of charcoal, but not a whole lot, so we’re going straight to the taste. 

Nice carbonation, tight flavor profile, but a bit underwhelming. It doesn’t have the depth I’ve come to expect in big imperial stout (ahem, Founders Breakfast Stout). There’s some coffee and bitter chocolate in there, but there’s not the richness or smooth finish I like in this type of beer. It’s actually a little bitter on the finish, but not in a good way. 

I really wanted to like this beer and while it’s not bad, there better examples of the style readily available (Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, FBS). 

Vitals: Served at 45F in my trusty tulip. I let it warm a bit before doing my review. 10.2% ABV.

Taste: B-. Not memorable. 

Drinkability: C+. Too hot to drink more than one. 

Packaging: C. Basic info, but not keeping pace with the market. 

Value: B+. $10 for a 4-pack. Reasonable if you enjoy it. 

p.s. I dug out an FBS to see how it compared to Narwhal and it wasn’t even close. The FBS is a different beast altogether, justifying it’s spot in the Craft Beer Social Hall of Fame. Now I will go take a nap and give Chad the floor….

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When Jim asked me to be part of this Sierra Nevada Narwhal review I thought to myself “Good heavens, man! I already wrote one review this year! Do I look like some sort of machine to you??.” Fortunately I was able to summon the stamina to give this one a go, all in the spirit of National Stout Day.

I purchased this beer with high hopes. The description on the label appealed to all the things I love about a delicious imperial stout: the roasty malt flavors, hints of coffee, the cocoa and richness. I actually found myself hoping for a spontaneous snowstorm when I cracked this one open (sort of like the Coors Light commercials**, only this time with good beer).
** p.s. anyone who can accurately interpret what the hell that commercial has to do with beer wins a lifetime membership to Craft Beer Social, free of charge.
I took this Narwhal out of my beer fridge and set it on the counter for a while while I fiddled with my camera taking photos. Stout aficionados will tell you it pays to let an imperial warm up a bit, since too much coldness can prevent you from experiencing the more subtle flavors. I thought I was doing everything right. The pour was silky smooth darkness with barely a hint of foam. The aroma was exactly what I’d hoped for: roasty deliciousness with the hint of coffee bean. I even bought a deep dark chocolate bar to go with it, hoping it would coax out even more of the flavors on my palate.
Founders Breakfast Stout – was this going to be your new competitor?! My hopes were high. I tipped it back for that first sip, shunning the chocolate bar so as not to be corrupted in any way. And then…
Booze. That was the first word that came into my mind. This one weighs in at 10.2% ABV, and I could taste every single one of those percentage points. Founders Breakfast Stout & Great Divide Oak Aged Imperial Yeti wrap me up in their delicious flavors to the point where I almost forget I’m drinking a relatively high alcohol craft beer. I’m sorry Sierra Nevada, but this was not the same experience. I could sip this one and appreciate what they were trying to accomplish with it, but the alcohol overwhelmed my enjoyment. I can’t see myself buying this one again.
Vitals: 10.2% ABV, served at around 50 degrees in my favorite “Look at me, I’m a sophisticated stout drinker” glass.
Taste: C+ It tasted like rich, boozy adult beverage. I did get a hint of bitter coffee, but it wasn’t enough for me to put this in the class of other great imperial stouts.
Drinkability: C I won’t say the “b–zy” word again because I’ve already beaten it into the ground. I can’t imagine drinking more than one of these in a session.
Value: Let’s see… paying $10+ for a 4-pack of a beer I wasn’t that fond of after 2 sips? Not what I’d consider “high value”.
Label Design: A I actually thought they nailed the label design for this type of beer. It’s too bad I’d want the beer itself to go down with the ship that mutant unicorn whale is apparently crushing.
Ok, so Chad’s not buying this one again. What about Matt? 
After seeing that both Jim and Chad were going to review Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal, I decided to grab a bottle and give it a go myself. It has been a while since I have had a beer from Sierra, but their small bottle offerings typically do not disappoint. The beer poured very dark, mostly black with some brown highlights on top with a small tan colored head on top.

The aroma has lots of roasted malt, some cocoa, dark chocolate, and a little bit of espresso. There is a hint of pine and grapefruit right at the end. The flavor profile is quite similar to the aroma with more roasty malt, almost charred, with some dark chocolate and licorice. I picked up a little bit of mint in the middle as well.

Vitals: 10.2% abv poured into a tulip glass after sitting out a few minutes. Consumed over the course of 45 minutes.

Taste: B, A solid stout with most of the characteristics I am looking for in the style

Drinkability: B+, not a beer I am going to drink a lot of, but found this 12oz bottle pretty easy to drink and tasted none of the 10.2% abv.

Value: A-, Picked up a single bottle for $2.99 which was not marked up from the 4 pack for $12. A pretty good deal for a beer this big.

Label Design: A-, Yes, it still sort of looks like every other Sierra Nevada bottle, but I am digging the black label and the narwhal image.

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So there you have it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While it sounds like Matt is in love and I wouldn’t kick Narwhal out of bed, Chad’s not so sure… he’s looking for another lover. I hope you enjoy our first “threesome” here at Craft Beer Social. ūüôā 

 

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest

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When it starts to cool down here in New England, it’s time to seek out the “wet hop” ales before they’re all gone. I’d never tried this beer from Sierra Nevada, but since I credit them with bringing craft beer to the masses with their pale ale, I hunted until I could find it. 

A wet hop ale is brewed only with fresh, whole hops, which makes it typically a fall brew, when most hops are being harvested. They’re not the hoppiest brews you’ll find, but the fresh hops impart some unique flavors that make them worth the effort to seek out. 

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This beer pours a beautiful clear red/orange color, with a nice head that leaves traces of bubbles all over the glass as it fades. It doesn’t smell pungent, but instead is a nice balance between the hops and the malt. It’s bitter, but not overly so. There’s just the right combination of citrus to make it one of the most drinkable beers I’ve ever had. Yeah, it’s that good. 

Don’t bother with wet hop beers if you love a fruity hop “bomb.” They don’t pack the same whallop as some of the top beers in the IPA category. But if you want an enjoyable, hoppy beer that says goodbye to summer and ushers in the Fall and Winter with style, give them a try. And by all means, find this one, because it’s a great example of the style. 

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Vitals: Served at 45F into my trusty tulip. 6.7% ABV. 

Taste: B+. Balanced and beautiful. 

Drinkability: A. I’d love to find this one tap and then call myself a cab. 

Packaging: B+. Good story and all the vitals… I only ding them for no brew date. 

Celebrate good beer w/ @SierraNevada’s Celebration ale.

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Sierra Nevada’s celebration ale is a beer I really look forward to every year. Before I was really into craft beer, I was into this beer. This american IPA has been around since 1981, and as far as I’m aware the recipe hasn’t changed. It’s said to be a bigger version of their flagship pale ale. 

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It pours with minimal head, the aroma is your typical C hop (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus) aroma of bitter grapefruit / pine. To be honest I’m having a hard time picking up the nuances, and describing this beer, as I’m coming off a week or two long cold, and my sence of smell and taste haven’t fully recovered.

What I can tell you is this is a solid offering, I’ve had it too many times to count, and I buy it every year.

Drinkability – Despite it’s abv, you certainly could drink mroe than a few.

Taste – malty, bitter, hop balanced ipa.

 

Vitals. ABV 6.8 (sneaky, I’d have never even guessed it was above 5). Poured too cold into a perfect pint.

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Sierra Nevada Torpedo

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This is a beer you can find in most liquor stores (I found this in a grocery store in the Northeast Kingdom of VT) and you may just brush it off and look for something more exotic. That, in my humble opinion, is a mistake. 

Sierra Nevad's Torpedo is a classic IPA. It smells of pine and grapefruit and packs a whallop on first sip. Theres's enough malt to stand up to the hops, leaves you looking for that next sip. It has none of the metallic aftertaste that beleaguers lesser IPAs and comes across as a drinkable, well-rounded IPA. Very balanced. I like this one. 

Give it a try the next time you have a brain freeze in front of the beer chest and can't make up your mind.   

Vital Stats: Served at 45F from a 12oz bottle into a glass that you can clearly see in the picture. ABV clocks in at 7.2%. 
Taste: A- (I need to try this next to Racer 5)
Drinkability: B+ (the only knock on this one is the ABV, which will knock you down if you have too many)