Sierra Nevada are probably one of the best known US brewers in this country. As with many great breweries, they were founded 30 years ago in California by a keen homebrewer who dreamt of taking things to the next level.
Their Pale Ale is widely available in supermarkets and bars, and it’s happily easy to find the bulk of the rest of their range too.
We start with their classic Pale Ale, at 5.6%. It’s an amber ale in the glass, with quickly fading, fairly large bubbles. The nose is sweet, light with gently toasted cereal, and just hint of alcohol. There’s also an undercurrent of gentle green leaf hops.
In the mouth, it’s fresh, fruity, with a relatively light body. It’s quite full of fizz, and surprisingly unsweet considering the nose. There is some sugar right at the front, but quickly fades away into a lingering hoppy tail. Throughout there are gentle, summer fruit hints from the hops. It’s light, delicious and wonderfully drinkable.
Next up is Torpedo Extra IPA, at 7.2%. A slightly darker gold in the glass, with a thin but more lingering head. The nose is rich, filled with sweet fruit, almost honey-like – although I’m not getting the level of floral hops I expected.
It’s a big, rich beer in the mouth – a medium body for all the sweetness, it manages to avoid being too heavy and sticky. The sweet honey come through nicely, with big deep fruity hops feeding in lots of bitter dryness in the tail – more than making up for the slight lack of hops on the nose. It’s proper, big IPA. Spectacular.
On to the Porter, again at 5.6%. A deep dark russet in the glass, with a thin but fine bubbled, lingering head. There’s plenty of coffee on the nose, with some hint of dark chocolate there too.
The taste is full of burnt toast, in a really good way. It’s deliciously sweet, with a burnt sugar bitterness. The body is relatively light for all that, which helps keep it refreshing. Those sweet and bitter notes remain balanced throughout, with a shortish hop tail coming through at the very end. It’s on the lighter side for a porter, but it’s tasty nonetheless.
And so finally to their Stout, slightly stronger at 5.8%. This one is properly black in the glass, with a slim tan head on top. It has a dark, toasted sweet malt nose to it.
It’s properly big and chewy in the mouth. The first flavour you get is a deep, almost black treacle sweetness which is beaten into submission by a seriously deep bitter core. There’s a rich, creamy texture and it manages to be both big on bitter and yet leave you with a sweet stickiness to your lips. Awesome.