Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Stout

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken's Stout
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken's Stout

Over the holidays, I had the chance to have one of Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary collaboration beers, the Fritz and Ken’s Stout, from the mind of Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing and Fritz Maytag.  Fritz is the great-grandson of the founder of the Maytag Corporation, headquartered in Newton, Iowa (which is also the hometown of Madhouse Brewing).  He essentially saved American craft beer in 1965 when he purchased the Steam Beer Brewing Company in San Francisco, now the maker of Anchor Steam.  The brewery was about to close its doors when Fritz bought the company and saved it, along with craft brewing in the process.

This beer was actually purchased about a year ago, but has been in cellar temperatures (around 50 degrees) since then.

I must say that this beer was worth the wait.  It poured very dark, with a tan head.  It smelled like roasted coffee and chocolate.  When I tasted it, I was very impressed.  It was a very nice, thick stout with a bunch of mouthfeel.  I felt it was almost porter-like because it was very thick, smooth, and chocolatey.

It was a great beer, and I am very disappointed that I didn’t save more.

Did you try the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Stout?  What was your take?

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale
Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

It’s that time of year again, when the leaves lose their green color, it becomes cooler, and football season starts.  It’s also time for the fall seasonals!

One of my favorite styles is Oktoberfest, but Sierra Nevada was first to the punch for fall seasonals by releasing their Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale in early August.

It was a nice brown ale.  It initially smelled like roasted malt, with the flavor like roasted malt.  It finished with nice roasted aftertaste with a hint of chocolate.  It was a smooth brown ale that had just a hint of hop flavor.

Have you tried Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale?  what did you think?

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2010

Sierra Nevada 2010 Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale
Sierra Nevada 2010 Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

I got a chance to have some of the Sierra Nevada 2010 Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale.  It uses hops from New Zealand that are picked then immediately shipped to brewery before drying, to be put into the brew.

The beer smells like a pine-like hop aroma with a hint of a fruity scent.

It tastes almost like it smells, with a pine-like citrus hop flavor, and finishes hoppy on back of your tongue.  The aftertaste is hop-filled with lingering bitterness.

Have you tried the Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale?  What did you think?

American Pale Ales vs. English Bitters

Just like Pale Ales versus India Pale Ales, when I began learning about beer, these two styles confused me.  The simple answer to the difference is hops.

American Pale Ales have a bitterness level similar to that of English Bitters, except they are used with American hops, usually Cascade, which gives the beer a nice citrusy quality.  Most of the Pale Ales available in the United States sit anywhere between 4.5% and 6% ABV, allowing it to be enjoyed in many different situations.  It is a very refreshing beer to have on a hot summer day, and also goes very well with almost any food.  It tends to enhance the hotness of spicy foods, so it goes particularly well with hot wings or grilled foods.  The prototypical example of an American Pale Ale is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

English bitters tend to be a bit weaker (alcohol-wise) than the American counterparts, and use European hops, usually Kent Golding and Fuggles types, which give the beer a more earthy and slightly spicy hop character.  The bitterness tends to be the same level as the typical American Pale Ale, but this depends on if the beer is a Bitter, Best Bitter, or Extra Special Bitter (ESB). The difference among these styles is from Bitter to ESB, the beer tends to be stronger and have more hops.

A lot of times, the Bitter family of styles are the ones favored by CAMRA, a group that thinks ale should not be served with additional carbon dioxide, and instead should be served naturally, which tends to lead to a beer that’s slightly warmer (55 degree F, a.k.a. cellar temperature), and less fizzy (because it only uses natural carbonation).  This lends itself to allowing the true flavor of the ale to shine through.  An excellent example of an ESB would be Fuller’s ESB.

What’s your experience with American Pale Ales and Bitters?  What’s your favorite?

What Are Harvest Ales?

Freshly Picked Hops Go Into a Harvest Ale
Freshly Picked Hops Go Into a Harvest Ale

Sierra Nevada just released their Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2010, but what are harvest ales?

Simply put, when the hop cones are ready to be picked, normal procedure is to dry the hop so it has less than 10% moisture, and then the hops are stored in vacuum sealed or nitrogen-packed bags to prevent oxygen from getting to them.  With a harvest ale, the fresh hops are picked off the vine, and then added to the boiling wort right away without drying them, so instead of ounces there are pounds because of the extra water weight.  With a harvest ale, you still get the standard flavor you would expect from the hops, but you also get an overwhelming “grassy” hop flavor, because the hops were newly picked live plants.  Talk about fresh!

Most times, the harvest ales are done in the fall, when it is harvest time in the northern hemisphere, but Sierra Nevada has agreements with hop farmers in New Zealand that allows them to have the freshly picked hops delivered to them within 12 hours, and they are placed right into the brew pot.

If you like pale ales, be sure to try one of the harvest ales because I’m sure you’d like it.  If you’ve had a harvest ale, how did you think it compared to your normal pale ale or IPA?