Happy 30th Sierra Nevada!

Posted by Jim on Nov 10th, 2010
Nov 10

Tonight we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company at the Great Lost Bear with 10 different SN beers available on draft!  This included all four of the XXX Anniversary limited releases!  To get you (and myself) in the mood, here are my reviews of the first three beers in the series (astute readers will remember that I already posted one of these reviews here, sorry for the repost); my review of the Grand Cru will be posted sometime after tonight’s tasting.  Also, if you are unable to make it to the GLB tonight, all the beers will be flowing again tomorrow as part of the Thursday Night Showcase.

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary – Fritz and Ken’s Ale

A- / 4.15
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Served in my Uprising chalice at Novare Res. The beer is super dark with a thick brown foam head. As I drink the beer, a patchy lace of foam is left behind. It has a robust coffee and dark chocolate aroma (does mean it smells like mocha?). There is a great balance of the malts and just a slight bit of grassy hops. Once I sip the beer, I can taste milk chocolate, roasted malts and a bit of alcohol. There is some sweetness, but not too much–it doesn’t taste as sweet as some other RISes I’ve had. The finish features a flavor that reminds me of vanilla beans. I’m interested in how this will age, as it tastes great now. It’s neither too hot nor too sweet, a problem than can affect some fresh imperial stouts. Each mouthful feels thick and creamy. I can also feel the carbonation. The coat that is left behind is top-notch; it’s stick but not too sweet. This beer feels like an important stout. This beer is very drinkable. The alcohol is never an issue. The stickiness may be a bit much for some people, but I’m pairing this beer with a glass of water and that works for me. I think I could easily finish off an entire 750ml bottle of this.

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary – Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Bock

A- / 4.1
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Served from a just-tapped keg at the Great Lost Bear; poured into a tulip glass. The liquid is a golden orange/copper color, kind of like a sunrise. There is a good white foam head that is slowly settling. Very little carbonation is rising. It i surprisingly still inside the glass. The bock has a flowery nose, lots of hops and grain. This is a rather cold glass of beer, so I imagine that a bottle pulled from my cellar would have a more impressive nose. This has an interesting flavor. It’s hard to classify. There is a slight alcoholic vinegar blast in the finish that is it’s most striking quality. I use the descriptor vinegar, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. The rest of the flavor has a strong floral taste, lots of pale grain and whole hops. The aftertaste is a bit sweet. It’s pretty interesting. I haven’t had too many bocks, so I don’t really have a frame of reference for this beer, but I am enjoying what I’m tasting. It has a medium body and a thin mouth coat. Carbonation is average. This si a pretty drinkable beer, but the alcohol does come through a bit, which would limit consumption. I think I could finish an entire 750ml bottle myself, but I wouldn’t want more than that. All in all, a great beer to celebrate Sierra Nevada’s anniversary.

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary – Jack and Ken’s Ale

A- / 4.15
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

Served from a cellar temperature bottle into a tulip glass. The beer pours dark and opaque. It’s colored ruby brown. As I pour, a large tan head forms; it is easily 2 inches tall. After a bit of time, the foam is forming into a series of bubbles or various sizes. Looking into the head gives the appearance of Swiss cheese. Very good lacing is left behind as I swirl my glass.

This barleywine has a nice toasted malt aroma. There is a little sweetness, perhaps toffee or caramel. I can detect plenty of plum aromas. There are some nice hops that give off the essence of pine. A bit of alcohol rounds things out and lets you know you are about to sip a strong beer.

The flavor is robust. Roasted malts are present that posses flavors of plum, raisin and a touch of black licorice. Some brown sugar sweetness comes to the front as I swallow. Alcohol flavors the after taste, along with a touch of roasted malts. It is not quite charcoal, but it certainly tastes charred to me.

The mouthfeel is very impressive. The beer is thick and creamy, but not sticky or viscous. The carbonation is crisp. A little bit of sweetness coats my mouth after I swallow, but it doesn’t feel like a large coating. There isn’t any warmth from the alcohol, which is surprising to me, as it id readily apparent in the nose and taste.

I enjoy this ale. It is certainly a sipper. I’m also not upset that I’m splitting this bottle; I could drink it all, but it would take a while. I will savor this bottle, and I have a second aging in my cellar, but I don’t think I will get any additional bottles. Bigfoot, although not for sale right now, will be my SN barleywine of choice.