Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sierra Nevada Stout

I've been a little under the weather recently. I've had a chest cold that has given me a nasty cough. So if while I'm writing this review I need to turn away to cough, rest assured that I'm not trying to be rude to you. Besides, beer is supposed to have health benefits, so maybe I should've had more beer when I was starting to get sick.

My comeback-of-sorts is Sierra Nevada Stout, another beer from regional brewer Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. While a very brief history can be found on my Summerfest beer review, there are a couple other facts I'd like to throw out. Ken Grossman, being an "avid backpacker," named the brewery for the mountain range of the same name because he loved to hike throughout them. The current brewery opened in 1989 and was expanded to 800,000 barrels a year in 1997. Apparently, the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale wasn't the only beer that was first brewed in 1980; among them was this beer, one of the "original four," which I assume also includes their other year-round brews, Porter and Wheat. Over the past couple months, Sierra Nevada has released two long sought-after beers: their Anniversary Ale, a special beer brewed each anniversary (this year is an IPA), and Harvest Ale, an ale brewed with fresh hops flown down from Yakima, Washington, the same day. (Sierra Nevada About Us webpage, phone call to brewery, Anniversary Ale and Harvest Ale press releases)

Here are the stats:

Sierra Nevada Stout
BREWERY: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA, USA
CALORIES/SERVING: 225 per 12 oz. bottle
ABV: 5.8%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 16° Plato (1065.84)
MALTS: Two-row Pale, Munich, Caramel, & Black
HOPS: Magnum, Cascade, & Willamette
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Smoked raw oysters, shellfish, lentil stew
AWARDS: 2000 California State Fair Gold Medal Award Winner (Stout, Sweet & Foreign category)

I got all this information, except the first-brewed, calories per servings, serving temperature, and foods to pair with, from the Sierra Nevada Stout homepage. The rest I got talking to the Sierra Nevada receptionist and Theresa from Customer Support/Quality Assurance on the phone on October 9th, 2007 at 4:15 PDT. Thanks so much for the info!

Like most stouts I've encountered, the head was rather large, a very bubbly but foamy light-tan explosion once the beer hit the bottom of the glass. When it settled, it revealed a solid, dark-brown color that seemed to suck in all the light around it. It had a strong aroma of dark chocolate with a hint of fruit that was pleasant. The taste was a mixture of chocolate, coffee, and burnt (or is that "roasted"?) hops. However, it's the aftertaste that I really didn't like about this beer. Its 60 IBUs came roaring at me in the finish, which in and of itself wasn't a bad thing, but it was a bitter hop flavor, and I didn't really enjoy it.

Hop heads might though, as it seems like a combination of stout and IPA. It's a well-crafted beer with an over-ambitious finish, but don't let it stop you from picking one up if you enjoy a hoppy bite at the end.


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