IPA – American: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

This week’s beer is one of Sierra Nevada’s latest offerings – Hop Hunter IPA. I was lucky enough to try this beer whilst in California, and knew I had to feature it on here. Hop Hunter is apprently coming to the UK soon, and I’m personally looking forward to it a lot.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s Description of the brew:

Hop Hunter IPA harnesses the complex flavors of just-picked hops through an all-new method of steam distilling wet hops before they even leave the fields. This revolutionary technique captures and intensifies the natural flavors, creating a unique and intensely aromatic beer. Our custom process gathers pure hop oil which, when combined with traditional whole-cone hops in the brew kettle, makes for an incredible IPA experience.

I like how this description focuses on the process, as far as I know another brewery haven’t attempted this feat yet. The hops are grown in Sierra Nevada’s farms, which is a nice touch. I think the description really understates the process utilised to get the Oil out of the Hops and distilled. The brewery use a piece of machinery previously used to extract oil from Mint leaves, the Hops are put into huge trailers and the machine steams them, collecting the vapour, cools it and distills it. The process captures the pure Hop Oil. Five Thousand Pounds of Hops go into just 100 litres of Hop oil. Impressive!

So, with that lets get onto which Hops are used. In the kettle we have Bravo, Cascade, Crystal and Simcoe. The Hops used to make the Hop Oil are Cascade, Centennial and CTZ. The Malts and Fermentables in this brew are interesting, I haven’t seen Flaked Oats used in an IPA in a while but they are in this one as well as 2-Row and Caramel Malts. This is then fermented with Sierra Nevada’s house Ale yeast.

When you pour this beer, the first thing you notice is the Golden colour of the brew and the excellent Clarity it has in the glass. A nice Medium White head forms and sticks around for most of the time you drink this one. The lacing drips down the sides of the glass whilst you drink and does not stick. The nose of this beer is incredible, Floral notes combined with big juicy Citrus and Tropical notes with Pine lingering in the background. On the Palate, you get an initial hit of bitter Pine coupled with nice Bready malts, there’s also some big Citrus notes in there. The Malt backbone carries this IPA well throughout, but the Hop notes are definitely not understated. Seeing as there is Flaked Oats in this one, the mouthfeel is quite light for an IPA. It finishes Crisp, Bitter and Dry.

I can’t wait until this one is available in the UK. Until then, ask your American friends to send as many to you as possible!

EST. CALORIES: 186   ABV: 6.2%

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Hefeweizen – American: Sierra Neveda Kellerweis

This week’s beer is in true classic Bavarian Style – Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, a Hefeweizen.

Hefeweizen is a traditional German “Weissbier” style. Weissbier means “White Beer” and it is called this because at the time of it’s invention, most German beers were dark in colour. The Hefeweizen is a term that means “Yeast White” as this is the beer in it’s truest form, unfiltered traditional form. Although this is an American version, it’s a great example of the style with it’s open fermentation and top fermenting yeast (required by law in Germany in order to call the beer Hefeweizen.) Anyway, enough history, let’s have Sierra Nevada‘s description:

Untamed, unfiltered, and unafraid.

Inspired by traditional Bavarian techniques, Kellerweis is a true artisan experience. With Kellerweis, we brew in open fermentation tanks—a process rarely seen today—to let the ingredients truly shine. The result is a hazy wheat ale—untamed, raw and alive. With a full, fruity aroma and notes of spicy clove and banana bread, Kellerweis is a truly unique brew.

A great description from Sierra Nevada as always, giving a brief bit of history along with how you should expect it to taste then there’s a few marketing bits in there. Sierra Nevada have always been quite grown up when it comes to their take on beer, so there’s no digs at “corporate yellow fizzy stuff” which sometimes can be funny, but sometimes it can get a bit tiresome.

After looking around, and realising that Sierra Nevada now put most of their recipe on their website I found this beer uses Two-row Pale Barley, German Wheat and Munich malts. I like how this is kept quite traditional, but uses the American Two-row pale malt also. It’s rumoured that occasionally Pilsen malt is also used in the brew depending on availability. Perle hops were used in this particular brew, which seems quite traditional to me as they are of German origin but sometimes Sterling hops are also used. This gives the hop profile a nice clean, noble profile with a hint of spice allowing the flavours created by the Hefeweizen ale yeast to shine through. I like it when breweries are more open with their recipes, some people won’t be interested but if breweries share their recipes it means if anyone wants to have a go, they can! Or even use it as a base for something else. Props to Sierra Nevada, one of the few breweries that give their recipe. Afterall, a lot of what makes brewing a good beer is the method anyway!

Moving on, when you pour this beer you’ll notice the fact it is unfiltered straight away, it pours a golden yellow that is very cloudy with a thick white head due to the fact it has a lot of wheat in. The initial smell is brown sugar and clove, banana and a little bit of wheat. This really does smell very inviting and refreshing. The taste is very much like the smell, but better. Lots of Banana, Strawberry and other summer fruit with a slightly pine bitterness at the end reminding you it’s American. The yeast does 99% of the work in this beer and it really is intriguing. After the pine flavours fade you get a bit of wheat and a nice smooth sweet finish. The head deceives as the carbonation is mild to medium and also takes a long while to dissipate. This truly is a refreshing beer – especially in this humid September weather.

All in all, a very refreshing beer from Sierra Nevada and one I will always purchase time and time again.

Kellerweis is a year round offering from Sierra Nevada and you can purchase in the UK at:

Beers of Europe

Beautiful Beers (In Stock at time of writing!)

For any bars or shops that would like to stock Kellerweis, James Clay import Sierra Nevada beers in the UK.

EST. CALORIES: 144   ABV: 4.8%

Special Edition – Festival: London Craft Beer Festival

Last weekend I went to the ever-growing London Craft Beer Festival. Located in the Oval Space at Cambridge Heath, it’s very close to a lot of the up and coming Craft Breweries in London.

I decided to go to the afternoon session on the Saturday, as some of the festival is outside and it’s been a little unpredictable on the weather front lately, especially at night! We arrived just before the event started at 11:40am, lucky we did as I quickly found out that the Afternoon session was sold out and the queue quickly formed behind us.

Once we got into the festival and received our free branded tasting glass, 5 tokens for our 1/3rds of a pint and our festival programme (more on that in a second!) we made our way up to the terrace before going into the space and was greeted by a great view of industrial East London.

Even from the first initial glimpses, you can tell that this is no ordinary CAMRA Real Ale fest. This a proper, balls to the wall, anything goes Craft Beer and food festival. Instead of paying on the door, paying for your glass and then paying for every beer you try at this festival everything is included in the ticket price.

We walked through the terrace ignoring the hunger coming in slowly as our breakfast wore off, as the main thing we were here for was the amazing beer!

Once we got into the hall, all the breweries were lined up and ready to go, the music had started and the beer was already flowing. I’m not sure who the DJ’s were at this particular session, but the blend of music and remixes was spot on and so were the people. Such a diverse crowd enjoying the amazing craft beers on offer.

We headed straight to the Thornbridge Brewing Stand to try some of their Parma Porter, a Porter brewed normally and then Parma Violets are crushed up and added during fermentation.

As there were 24 breweries and I tried at least 1 of each breweries beer, I’m going to keep the reviews short but sweet and want to write a little more about the event. However, there was not a single bad beer tried! The Parma Porter had a big hit of Parma Violets on the nose along with some roasty notes on the nose and was black with a tan head. When you taste this beer, you get another big initial hit of sweet parma violets and malts, which then tapers off to some roasty notes with burnt sugar undertones. The beer surprisingly finishes quite dry, but it’s a smooth brew and something I’d definitely drink in the summer.

After this, I wanted to check out what one of my favourite brewers, Founders Brewing had to offer. We walked over and I recommended All Day IPA to the friend I was with. The only beer they had which I hadn’t tried was the Porter. There’s always a lot of hype about the porter, and as usual with Founders it lived up to it’s name. A very dark, black on appearance that has a tan coloured head which dissipates quite quickly. When you smell it, you can smell the nice roasty sweet malt notes and a touch of brown sugar. On the taste you get the initial roasty, burnt sugar notes but then it finishes so crisp and clean. For me, it’s often unheard of in a porter but this one was seriously a stand out for me even though it’s such a classic style.

Next up, I had to go over to Camden Town Brewery‘s stand to check out the Australian Stone & Wood beer that was on offer – Pacific Ale. I’ve tried some Australian Craft Beer before (Little Creatures Pale Ale) and this beer from S&W meets the standards I’ve come to expect. A pale orange colour with a thick head that fades slowly leaving rings around the glass. This really is a pretty looking brew. On the nose, some grapefruit and tropical fruits. Taste is very fruity indeed but unfortunately very carbonated. Something I would definitely try again to get a full opinion on. Finish is almost crisp like a lager.

After this beer, we were going to go over to Sierra Nevada to finally try some of their Hoptimum… before this (as it’s 10%) we decided it would be a good time to go across the road to the Flanders Festival (also included in the ticket price!) to grab some food there. Although there was some great food on offer at the main part of the festival, we wanted to pop across the road to see what it was about. It was a quaint little festival with a few Belgian beers on offer as well as cooking lessons and the Flemish Kitchen Rebels. I grabbed some Belgian Frites and a freshly made and cooked Chorizo scotch egg. This was much needed at this point and went down well. I also tried a few beers over this side whilst I was there, the Westmalle Tripel which is apparently the first Tripel ever brewed, I tried the coriander and cardomon Vedett by Duvel which was very interesting. I then tried “BIIR” which was meant to be “Barcelona Craft Beer.” It was a little confusing, as it’s brewed in Belgium and I didn’t see it anywhere in Barcelona when I was there. It wasn’t the best so I went onto one of the famous Belgian Fruit beers – Liefmans Fruitesse as I sipped on it the sun came out and it was one of the most refreshing brews of the Festival with tonnes of fruit flavours and some tartness. Great example of a Belgian Fruit Beer.

After the breif tasting of Belgian beers and applying to win a case of Craft Beer (Pick us!!) we went back into the Oval Space we went straight for the Sierra Nevada stand for some of their famous Hoptimum. The beer appeared golden with not much head, as it was served from a cask. On the nose, loads of sweet malts, tonnes of pine, citrus and some grass notes. Much the same on the taste, a thick brown sugar followed by huge hits of pine and citrus undertones. Truely a tasty brew and one of the best imperial IPA‘s I’ve had to date. It finishes sweet. We then walked over to Buxton and I had one of my old favorites – Far Skyline, whilst my friend sampled their Saison. Interestingly, they told me that they are currently fermenting a new batch of Far Skyline which is even more sour and has some Brett yeast added. I’m not sure how this will come out, as Far Skyline is one of my favourite craft beers, but I’m definitely going to give it a try! I sipped on a bit of their Saison whilst chatting away and it really was a great representation of the style with all the spices and funky yeast notes. It was almost like it was from Belgium!

Next, we went across the room to check out Pressure Drop and had some of their Strictly Roots Porter. Strictly Roots is a Porter with Dandelion and Burdock added to it that has been harvested from the nearby Hackney Marshes. This one looks like a normal porter, medium body, black with a tan head. The Aroma of this beer is where it really takes it into it’s own and was one of my favourites from the day. A big bit of roasty smells and chocolate on the nose with the signature Dandelion and Burdock smell but without the sugary notes. When you try this beer, it’s a bit like dropping a shot of fruity espresso into a can of D&B and getting it to ferment somehow. Quite subtle, but you can tell it’s there and adds a really interesting taste to the beer.

After this, we popped over to Magic Rock Brewing and I had my favourite beer of the entire festival. Bearded Lady aged in Bourbon Barrels. An Imperial Stout that has been in Bourbon Barrels for 180 days. It has the consistency of motor oil and arrives thick black with a slight hint of a tan head. The smell of this one is complex. Burnt caramel, dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans. When you taste this beer, the bourbon and oak flavours hit you straight away leaving behind some great roasty caramel and brown sugar notes. It’s such a smooth beer for 10.5% and goes down very well and it’s like drinking something that has the consitancy of cough syup. I really think this beer can rival Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout. Light carbonation and believe it or not, finishes sweet. A truely fantastic effort from Magic Rock and definitely my favourite of the day.

After a quick break and some socialising with some fellow beer lovers, we moved along to Beavertown Brewery. Beavertown now have a soft spot in my heart as they’ve recently moved to my hometown in Tottenham and are helping an area become regenerated that desperately needs it. I’ve moved away from the area but as with any hometown it has a place in my heart! Back to the beer: I picked up their Lemon Phantom, a Berlinner Weiss with Lemon Zest and juice added. This beer was great and a nice deflection from the darker beers I’d just had. It arrived almost see through, unfiltered but not overly fizzy. It still had great body for such a pale beer. It reminded me of cloudy lemonade on the nose, the taste was a big hit of lacto and sour lemon, ending on a slightly sweet and sour wheat note. A lot of the Berlinner Weissbiers are so concentrated on the lacto and sourness but you could tell that the complexity of this beer was not accidental. Definitely one I need to revisit and I’m hoping I can arrange a trip to the new Bevertown Brewery as soon as possible. Hopefully it’ll still be on the tap list and I’ll be able to enjoy a pint of it!

After this, time was running out and I started rating my beers, so I’m going to be a little more brief for the rest. Plus I don’t want to bore you with endless beer ratings! Ratings are out of 5…

Green Flash West Coast IPA – Imperial IPA – 4.35 – Pine, Citrus, Golden. Dry finish.

Sierra Nevada Equinox Harvest – Wet Hop IPA – 4.5 – Bubblebum, Subtle citrus, golden colour. Crisp.

Signature Brew Candela Gold – Passionfruit Golden Ale – 4 Loads of Passionfruit, Great Lacing, Citrus. Sweet.

Brewdog / Victory Brewing U-Boat – Imperial Stout – 3.75 Chocolate, Roasty flavours, Coffee. Very dark. Dry finish.

Burning Sky Plateau – Pale Ale – 3.25 – Not my favourite of the festival, Citrus and Grapefruit. Standard American Style Pale Ale.

The Kernel Table Beer (Simcoe, Mosaic) – Table Beer – 4.35 – Complex, Bubblegum well balenced with Citrus, finishes sweet.

Redchurch Brewery Broadway Black – Black IPA – 4 – Liquorice, Citrus, Pine. Black, dry finish.

Howling Hops Rye Gose – Gose – 3.5 – White Wine, Lacto, Very dry.

Weird Beard Sadako – Imperial Russian Stout – 4.5 – Coffee, Very roasty but very sweet finish. Fantastic.

Brew By Numbers 14 | 01 Tripel – Tripel – 4.25 – Belgian Tripel with London hoppy Edge, Bubblegum from the Mosaic hops and loads of sweet malt flavours woven in. Want to try again.

After this I chilled out with a few Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and had a chat to various brewers. The atmosphere at this festival really is second to none, Amazing food, amazing friendly diverse people and last but not least Amazing beer! I also managed to grab a small haul from The Bottle Shop.

I’ll be posting about these beers where I can fit them in! I’m particularly looking forward to Green Flash – Le Freak which is a Belgian IPA.

The festival really was a great day out and I’ll be attending in the future every year, roll on the next!

Pilsner – American: Sierra Nevada Summerfest

This week comes a seasonal brew from another of my favorite brewers, Sierra Nevada. The beer is called Summerfest and is a Lager/Pilsner.

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing better than a well crafted lager on a hot day and this is no objection to that.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s description:

Crisp summertime lager.

Since their invention in the 1840s, Pilsener-style beers have become the world’s most popular style. With a nod toward the original Czech tradition, Summerfest is brewed to feature the best of Bohemian nature. Crisp, golden, dry and incredibly drinkable, Summerfest has a delicate and complex malt flavor and spicy and floral hop character—the perfect warm weather beer.

 

A nice short and sweet description that gives you a little history behind the Pilsner style. For those that don’t have a long time to trawl through the Wikipedia, here’s a quick beer history lesson – Before the 1840’s absolutely everyone drank Ale and Lager did not exist. One day a brewery in a city called Plzen or Pilsen in what is now the Czech Republic made what is regarded as the first lager. Due to the softness of the water and the nearby Saaz hops, the beer became a huge success and helped make the base for what we know as a lager today – the perfect hot weather beer! After some thought and searching around, I think Sierra Nevada use 3 different types of malt in this brew. First, the two-row pale barley malt and then some Munich and some German Pilsner malt to stay true to the style. As for the hops, most definitely Saaz hops and some Perle Hops to keep it traditional, then possibly some Spalt Select hops to update the recipe a little bit.

This beer pours quite similar to a lot of the usual lagers you find, but it’s not as fizzy. The carbonation is still live but if you slip whilst pouring you get a huge head! The head turned out to be quite generous I poured it and I did it carefully (with some vigor of course, as you want some foam when you pour!) It pours a deep yellow colour which is very inviting in weather like this. The bubbles rise up quickly like a quick torrent you see in a bottle of Sprite. The smell of this beer is great, crisp earthy hops, a little bit of citrus, a big floral hop aroma with subtle banana along with sweet malts in the background. Summerfest really is an inviting beer on a hot, humid day. When you taste this beer, the first thing you’ll notice is the light lemon zest at the beginning which then fades into some nice sweet, lightly roasted malts. There’s also a light grassy taste with a little bit of spicy hop. This really is a crisp, clean beer and very well crafted. The flavours really do compliment each other extremely well. It feels solidly carbonated in your mouth but finishes really crisp and refreshing. What a great lager!

I’d recommend this beer for chilling out in the sun, or whilst doing some summer gardening. I can’t stress how refreshing it is!

You can purchase Sierra Nevada Summerfest in the UK at:

Beers Of Europe

For any Bars/Shops looking to stock this beer, Sierra Nevada beers are imported into the UK by James Clay and Fuller’s in the UK.

EST. CALORIES: 150   ABV: 5%