A pils in the Summer is a wonderful thing. Only, it’s barely Summer in Seattle right now with temps around 70 degrees. Oh well. We had some low end stuff and some American craft varieties as an overview of the style. It was surprisingly difficult to find good Pilsners for some reason. I couldn’t even find Urquell. I was hoping to also have Mamma’s Little Yella Pils and Prima Pils in here as well, but it wasn’t meant to be.
We started off with some German versions with a couple low end beers to start the tasting. I have to say that the Beck’s really wasn’t that bad. It was a little bit skunked, but the flavor was better than the nose and it was very easy drinking. I really couldn’t hate this beer and might even buy it again.
The Becks above is actually brewed in the US, not Germany, but the Bitburger is. I was expecting to like this one more, but it just tasted like water after the Beck’s. I was pretty surprised by this.
Now for something a little better, the LTD 03 from Full Sail had a nice orange citrus thing going on. By far had the most flavor. It’s a beer I’ve enjoyed many times and just one of the great lagers in that LTD series.
And the Churchkey. This was one of the hoppiest pils of the night. I think it’s a solid beer and the can was a hit at Beer Club. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but isn’t that marketing?
Now on to a couple Czech varieties. Like I mentioned, I couldn’t find Urquell, but I thought this might be a good replacement. And it was. This is actually a lovely pils with soft hop tones. The Beer Club said it tasted like Au Jus. They are weird.
The Redhook Pils is my favorite of their lineup. I think everyone has probably had this beer already, but why not add it? It’s a decent beer, but watery and unimpressive in this lineup.
Summerfest is a personal favorite of mine. It definitely stood apart from the pack with a more grainy flavor. It felt somehow more refreshing than the others.
Now, I added a few oddball beers to the table, starting with this one. It’s an “Alt-style” Pilsner from Snoqualmie. They use an ale yeast for this and also add some maize. It’s a cool little hybrid of the style, but not as refreshing as the other pils.
I found this Leavenworth beer, brewed by Fish in Olympia, WA, and decided to add it. I’m pretty sure it’s not a Pils, but considering I was having a hard enough time trying to find enough beer, I figured why not. It’s not a bad beer, but didn’t belong in the bunch. The only information that I’ve found called it a golden lager.
Also not a Pilsner, the Ziggy Zoggy is Zwickelbier. And it’s good. So I added it. By far the hoppiest beer of the bunch, which I loved to end the session, but I seemed to be alone in that sentiment.
Pilsner has become a favorite style of mine. I’m so tired of having double IPAs, imperial stouts, and the like. I’ve got a bunch of beers just sitting around because I’m not interested in having a 9% beer. Kudos to Full Sail and similar breweries for really taking lagers to heart.
This is Sierra Nevada’s newest seasonal. I’ve had a couple six packs by now, but I’ve yet to review it. This beer features Pale, Rye, Caramel, and Chocolate malts with Bravo, Chinook, Citra and whatever they are referring to as Experimental hops.
Rye Beer. 6.6% ABV. 55 IBUs. California. Spring Seasonal.
Nice coppery color that also has a fine head. The lacing is especially impressive.
It’s got a hop forward nose bringing a floral and spicy note with a hint of honey.
Mouthfeel is great with a nice medium body with a medium to high carbonation level.
Floral and spicy hop profile that actually eases into a floral and fruit flavor on the mid-palate. Some stone fruits show up there, while it finishes on a more spicy note with a grainy-rye flavor left on the palate.
Just another solid brew from Sierra Nevada. At first blush, I wasn’t that impressed with this beer, but the more I drink it, the more I like it. 90 points.
This is one of my favorite beers and I’ve never even reviewed it. Not sure how that’s happened, but I had some left over from my last beer club, so I’ll finally review it. This has 2-row Pale and Caramel malts with Magnum, Perle, and Cascade hops.
American Pale Ale. 5.6% ABV. 37 IBUs. California.
Burnt orange color with a nice white head. Quite a bit of sediment in here.
Citrusy hops dominate the nose. Orange, lemon, lime, and a hint of grapefruit. The grainy malt shows just a hint of itself.
Mouthfeel is fantastic. Nice medium body with a medium carbonation.
The citrusy hops hit the palate first, which transitions to a honey and grain flavor. The bitterness shows up and it’s on the higher side for a pale. The finish is long with a lime and grain flavor.
After all this time, this is still one of my favorite beers. It’s just a classic and one of the best pale ales out there. 93 points.
February gave us a chance to try something that wasn’t just a seasonal. After the Winter seasonals and the stout tastings, I wanted to try something on the lighter side of things. The American Pale Ale is arguably the most important American craft beer other than the IPA. These beers are a nice way to show what American brewing is often about, without getting too hoppy. Besides, I love these beers because they are sessionable and go great with so many types of food.
We started with one of my favorite beers to come out last year, 21st Amendments Bitter American. It’s a 4.4% session beer that packs a great flavor punch. This beer was generally liked, but fell a bit flat compared to the bigger beers that we drank after this.
We moved on to one of my favorite party beers. The plain old Full Sail Pale. There’s nothing amazing about this beer, but it’s more than solid beer at a great price point.
Deschutes Mirror Pond is a classic. This was definitely on the malty side compared to the other pales. I think this was pretty well liked because of that, but I personally prefer on the hoppy side.
Of course, the most classic of them all is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This might have been the least favorite of all the beers we had. I was really surprised by this, especially since this was actually MY favorite of the bunch. It’s got this amazing citrus hop flavor that didn’t resonate with the other palates.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale was next and quickly became the favorite of the night. This was the biggest beer at 6.5% and was definitely on the malty side. Go figure, this was MY least favorite of the bunch, but people really loved that grainy malt flavor.
We finished the night with another Deschutes beer, this time the Red Chair NWPA. I put this last because I figured this would be the hoppiest of the beers. And it was, in terms of hop flavor, but actually had a very mild bitterness. Because of that, people actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I did notice a hint of diacetyl, that I don’t recall before, but the tasting would probably make that more noticeable.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying their day and eating a ridiculous amount of food. I hope there’s some beer in there to wash it all down. I thought this month would be perfect to do Saisons. It’s one of my favorite styles, but more importantly, they are great for Thanksgiving. Here’s what we tasted.
We started with the classic, Saison Dupont. This is usually a pretty easy beer to come by, so you should check it out. It’s got a little bit of funk, but isn’t over-powering. I was actually surprised by how well this beer was received at beer club considering it has that little bit of funk.
We moved on to the Avec Les Bons Voeux. This was a bigger version of the other beer. It’s a little darker, a little heavier, not quite as drinkable. It’s abv is close to 10%. I think some people liked this beer, where as one or two thought the alcohol was a bit too much.
This was a new one for me. The Boardwalk from Left Coast is a more American version. It’s got a bit more of a hop profile. I was surprised to get a lot of “green” on the flavor. I tasted like snap peas to me. This was probably the biggest surprise of the night. It was pretty well liked.
I finally got to try the Ovila Saison. I havn’t tried any of the Ovila beers from Sierra Nevada, but I was willing to be it would show well. Unfortunately, this was the biggest disappointment of the night. It was very light in flavor, and just bland compared to the other saisons. Pretty disappointed in this one.
I loved the discontinued saison from Boulevard, but I never got to try this one. Tank 7 was a decent beer, but again, didn’t seem to stand out that much. It’s a beer that I’d like to try again by itself.
I wanted to throw a little bit of a change in here with this “black saison” from Goose Island. I’ve enjoyed this beer in the past and love the added peppercorns to accent the yeast profile. I think everyone liked this one, and it’s a definite buy if you ask me.
This was the wild card of the night. This is an Italian saison from Piccolo Birrificio called Seson, and it’s expensive. In the neighborhood of $20 a bottle. It’s got some added spices and citrus peel. This was definitely a winner, but I found it to be a bit too sweet and cloying. It’s a really interesting beer, and worth a purchase once, but I can’t see myself buying it again.
All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by how well the saisons were received. It’s kind of a funky style, and I know some people aren’t going to be into it. I hope I’ve expanded some palates with this beer club and hope to continue with it.
This is a re-review of this beer. It showed up in my house, so I thought I’d give it another go. And it goes with my theme of German style wheat beers. Keller means “cellar” in German apparently, in this open-fermented hefeweizen. According to Sierra Nevada, this is one of only a few hefeweizens brewed this way in the US. This beer features 2-row Pale, Wheat, and Munich malts with Perle or Sterling hops. I’m excited to give this another go.
German Hefeweizen. 4.8% ABV. 15 IBUs. California.
It’s a beautiful bright yellow color, and of course, very cloudy. Head doesn’t last.
Definitely some phenols coming through on the nose with a heavy banana aroma. You get some tropical fruits, clove, wheat, and yeast. Lovely nose.
Mouthfeel is nice and crisp with a light body, but this is amazingly drinkable.
The palate is just like the nose. Lots of tropical fruit, heavy banana, some clove, hint of tartness, with a hop bitter finish with some candy banana.
Far from my favorite Sierra Nevada, but quite a good beer. I don’t think Sierra Nevada has ever made a bad one. I’m sticking with my initial review. 91 points.
This is one of the newest to Sierra Nevada’s lineup. This light bock features 2-row Pale, Europils, Munich, and Crystal malts with German Magnum and German Perle hops for bittering and German Spalter, Slovenian Aurora, and Styrian hops for finishing. So, there’s some new hops for me.
Helles Bock. 6.4% ABV. 42 IBUs. California.
Fairly pale yellow. Head has large bubbles and fades quickly. Leaves no lacing. Lots of carbonation streams.
Hops and malt both hit the nose. There are some bready malts and light fruits. The alcohol does seem to come through a tad.
Light to medium bodied and high carbonation. Crisp beer.
Light fruits meet bready malts in a crisp, clean package. The only problem I have here is the slightly hot alcohol on the back.
Not bad, and worth buying. Crisp, hoppy lager. 86 points.
It appears that Sierra Nevada has taken down their 30th Anniversary webpage, so I’ll have to use my memory for this one. If I recall this is a blend of the Pale, Celebration, and Bigfoot and then dry-hopped. I’ve been a big fan of the other 3, so I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.
American Strong Ale. 9.2% ABV. California.
This is dark copper in color with a great head.
The nose is hoppy with some pine, but also quite perfumy. Citrus and caramel also come through strong. I get some slight oak with vanilla, but I have to admit it’s not a super open nose.
Great mouthfeel, medium to full-bodied.
Citrus, pine, followed by oak and vanilla flavors. Caramel and apples follow throughout. I get this beautiful orange/tangerine component, especially on the finish. Quite a good dose of bitterness on the back, but a well balanced beer, as you would expect from Sierra Nevada.
Good beer, and well worth the money quality wise. I do have to admit that it doesn’t completely blow my socks off. 91 points.
Continuing with the seasonals, this one from Sierra Nevada is actually an IPA. That’s a little unusual, but then I started thinking, nothing is more appropriate than for Sierra Nevada to make a Christmas American IPA. This beer features Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial hops with 2-row Pale, and English Caramel malts. I think Sierra Nevada is taking some liberties with the term “fresh hop ale”. This ale is not fresh hopped, but dry-hopped with the first hops of the growing season.
American India Pale Ale. 6.8% ABV. 65 IBUs. California. Winter Seasonal.
Dark amber with a fantastic head. Lots of suspended sediment in here.
Lots of hops on the nose with a pine tree and spice component, making it perfect for the holidays. I’m getting some slight citrus and caramel as well, but mainly dominated by a fresh pine scent.
Mouthfeel is perfect. The body and carbonation are spot on.
Lots of spice on the palate with a really nice candied orange flavor. Quite well-balanced with a nice vanilla and almost mint backend. Bitterness is pretty well contained.
Again, another well-made, well-balanced, and beautiful IPA from Sierra Nevada. And again, the hops are just spot on. If I were to make a Christmas IPA, this would be it. I’m ready for the snow now. 91 points.
This is what $170/lb hops taste like. Grossman has said that he believes the hops that are grown on the brewery premises. That’s opposed to around $2/lb on the open-market. I’m not sure how many other beers can claim to be “estate”. The hops and barley are organically grown at the brewery. I remember liking this last year, and loved the Southern Hemisphere that I just had from them. Hopefully this one is just as delicious.
Organic Wet Hop India Pale Ale. 6.7% ABV. California.
Coppery, burnt orange color with just a fantastic head and lacing.
Hoppy nose, but you get the malt on here as well. Quite a bit of grapefruit and orange with some nice lemon/lime going on. Also a slight floral note, which I like.
Excellent mouthfeel, medium bodied and good carbonation.
Again, lots of hops but just fantastic balance. Really spicy, floral hops with quite a bit of spices left on my palate. Such delicious hops with a nice little caramel note, and this floral explosion on the finish. Again, great balance, but certainly some bitterness here, so expect that. The finish is actually pretty vegetal, as I’m getting this snap pea flavor that’s actually really enjoyable.
Love it. I mean, it’s Sierra Nevada, and they just do hops right. It’s a bit expensive, but completely worth it in my opinion. 92 points.