Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. out of Chico, CA, is best known for their insanely popular Pale Ale, as well as being true pioneers within the craft beer world. They started brewing some 27 years ago, probably before many of you reading this were born, and each year they celebrate internally by brewing a special batch of beer. This year they decided that they’d celebrate 27 years of brewing excellence by releasing yet another hoppy West Coast-style India Pale Ale and share it with all of us.
Ho hum. We think they could have been a bit more creative instead of dropping yet another IPA into the market, but that’s just us. Anyway …
Anniversary Ale is brewed with two-row pale, caramel and Munich malts, bittered with Chinook hops and finished with Cascade in the kettle. It’s also dry-hopped with Cascade afterward — this hop tends to be loved or hated these days, as it can be a pleasurable hop with bold pine and citrus notes, but not so pleasurable if overused.
The thick, off-white, sudsy head leaves a chunky crown of lace at the top with a few rings of lace down the side of the glass. It boasts a bright and clear orange-amber hue with sporadic bubbles racing to the top. The aroma is complex — first with waves of soft orange zest, then progressing into a citric rind with wildflowers and a hay-like malt in the back. Fluffy medium body runs a little slick and moderately crisp. The taste unfolds into a progressively toastier mix of caramel malt flavors. Mild fruity alcohol jabs at the taste buds real quick. Hops finally come in, and they come strong, with a bitter sting to start and a rough track of dried citrus rind, tobacco and earth. Bitterness holds tightly onto the palate and does not want to let go. The finish is dry with a drawn-out, yet fading hop bitterness and flavor, with remnants of alcohol and malt.
If you really like beers with an overwhelming Cascade hop presence, then you’ll at least appreciate this beer. If you’re a hophead, you’ll probably expect more. If you’re neither, you’ll probably have a hard time celebrating this as your palate gets smacked around a bit with each intensifying sip. If you’re a Sierra Nevada fan, give it a taste.
Or try it with some food: Sierra Nevada recommends pairing this with aged cheddar, spicy dishes from Southeast Asia or India, West Coast wild salmon or bittersweet chocolates. It actually went very well with some Pad Thai from 9 Tastes [50 JFK St., Harvard Sq., Cambridge. 617.547.6666. 9taste.com].