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NorCalBoozer
10-06-2007, 11:49
I've been really disappointed with the current Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I've slowly noticed a decline in flavor depth and hoppiness with SNPA over the last year or so.

Has anyone else noticed this? SNPA is my go to beer. I went to college in Chico and started drinking it back in the early nineties so I have a softspot for it. You'd drink a bottle and see that large yeast sediment deposit in the bottom. OF course now you never see that, I have no idea if that means anything in regards to flavor.

I don't drink it on a real regular basis anymore but purchase a 6 pack maybe every 2-3 months. Sierra Nevada always seemed quite dedicated to preserving their quality but has sheer growth led to this? or am I just loopy? has anyone else noticed this?

craigthom
10-06-2007, 12:22
SNPA used to be my regular beer, but I haven't had many lately. I've never thought it was nearly as good in the bottle as draught by a long shot, and I've written off the not-too-good bottles at bars to old stock. Maybe not.

That sediment in the bottles has been gone for a decade, hasn't it?

I visited Chico last December (I was in Roseville for a business trip, so I took advantage). You'd never tell by the tour and the bar/restaurant/tasting room that they aren't still as serious about the beer. Maybe they have, but the tour gave me the warm fuzzies. I've toured a lot of breweries, but I've never been in one that size where it was all about the beer, not the technology.

The main reason I haven't been drinking as much SNPA the last few years is that there are so many other IPAs and APAs being made these days. I try to pick up something local wherever I am. I've turned into a bit of a hop head, and those options have increased, too.

DrinkyBanjo
10-06-2007, 12:51
If you like hoppy beer try Dogfish Head 60 or 90 minute Pale Ale. Very, very hoppy and very, very good!

Barrel_Proof
10-06-2007, 12:53
I haven't noticed a decline in the Pale Ale, but I did remark to several here that the Celebration Ale this past holiday season did not seem up to its usual fabulous standards. The folks from Chico set the standard for micros with their Pale Ale, long before the explosion of fine brewers from Washington and Oregon, elsewhere in California, and now all over the country.

craigthom
10-06-2007, 13:39
I haven't been impressed with any of the dogfish beers. They've got the finishing hops thing down. The nose is full of it. There's just not much bite on the finish, and the body seems thin (even on the 120).

The finishing hops do travel well in the dogfish bottle, better than most.

Tyranena Brewing Company's Bitter Woman is just about exactly what I look for in an extremely hoppy beer, but they don't sell outside of Wisconsin. There's a couple from Michigan, New Holland's Mad Hatter and Bell's (formerly Kalamazoo's) Two Hearted, that get reasonable distribution. Those are both terrific.

robbyvirus
10-06-2007, 15:59
I don't drink SNPA very often...it's never been one of my favorites. It just seems a bit bland to me. However I recently had one of their new releases (new to me, at least), the Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, which I thought was outstanding...a delicious, full-bodied ale. I highly recommend trying it!

Barrel_Proof
10-06-2007, 17:14
I don't drink SNPA very often...it's never been one of my favorites. It just seems a bit bland to me. However I recently had one of their new releases (new to me, at least), the Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, which I thought was outstanding...a delicious, full-bodied ale. I highly recommend trying it!

Let me second that impression -- I enjoyed a bottle of the Anniversary Ale a few weeks back (thank you Jeff). It is very good indeed.

Gillman
10-06-2007, 17:16
I find these beers essentially the same as ever. Celebration probably changes from year to year somewhat, but in general all the beers of this pioneering microbrewery are still tops. Cliff was right about their huge influence on the U.S. craft beer industry and microbrewed beer styles, it is possible SNPA was responsible for the American Pale Ale phenom, certainly it gave it a huge boost.

While I still like the best micro beers, I still like some commercial beers too, and maybe this is partly nostalgia since I started drinking them just before the micros and imports hit big in the late 70's. But also I think some of them have a good inherent quality.

Last night I had an excellent Molson Export Ale, which was "the" beer in Montreal when I grew up there. Good product, it has the same taste as I recall from then.

I was looking through Jim Robertson's 1978 beer book recently. It does not contain systematic stylistic descriptions in the way M. Jackson's books did but was informative enough and it brought back a wave of memories of beers sampled in the 70's and 80's, everything from the homely Dunk's of central Florida -made in Auburn, don't ask me how I know that - to Genny 12 Horse to the late lamented Ballantine IPA to Henry Weinhard (is that still made?) to the well-hopped Schaefer of the 70's (Robertson thought it was too bitter!) and, well, a 1000 others. Roberston chronicled the early emergence of micro and Belgian and other imports and gave them a fair hearing but his main focus at the time was mainstream U.S. beers (many of which were made by small companies at the time though). He wrote more in the style of one content to describe the palate of 1000's of beers rather than get involved in the intricacies of style and situate the beers in the national drinking cultures as Jackson did. Indeed Robertson is probably best known for his Beer Log series which is an invaluable source of information on what beers were available in the U.S. market in the 80's and 90's and what they tasted like. His first book from 1978, called The Great American Beer Book, was a great book for me for that time because it identified many beers I felt were worth trying and just gave a ton of information.

And, to this day, there are things in it I am quite sure I read nowehere else, e.g., that the white beer style (which Dane was talking about recently) was first developed in England. So he didn't ignore national tradition and historical aspects but his main task was to chronicle the names and tastes of the 1000's of beers still available in the mass domestic market then.

Anyone up for a Maximus Super!?

Gary

Gillman
10-06-2007, 17:38
I just looked up the Dunk's entry in Robertson's book, it was actually in Auburndale, Fla. The full name was Duncan, the name of its brewer, who founded the brewery in the early 70's after relocating from the North East. Robertson's reviews are so-so but I recall liking Dunk's German Style, I think it came in those stubbies that were popular then (probably in cans too).

Not bad for a 30 year memory.

Gary

Gillman
10-06-2007, 18:21
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the Robertson book, which again was issued in 1978 and later revised, but I am referring to the first edition.

It is about Straub's, which still exists in Pennsylvania and probably makes the beer the same way:

"Sixty-two-year-old brewmaster Gibby Straub was recently quoted in a local newpaper: 'We only make so much and that's it. All the Straubs like to hunt and fish too much; to hell with making all this money. Besides, we're selling all we make now'".

See, that's a story about beer, and America too, and it doesn't make any difference if you're talking about micro beer or any other kind.

Gary

NorCalBoozer
10-06-2007, 21:12
I don't drink SNPA very often...it's never been one of my favorites. It just seems a bit bland to me. However I recently had one of their new releases (new to me, at least), the Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, which I thought was outstanding...a delicious, full-bodied ale. I highly recommend trying it!

I've tried the Anniversary Ale and thought it was quite good as well. I should try one next to a standard SNPA. Any other good hoppy beer recommendations?

THanks Greg.

NorCalBoozer
10-06-2007, 21:14
If you like hoppy beer try Dogfish Head 60 or 90 minute Pale Ale. Very, very hoppy and very, very good!

Yes i love hoppy beers, i'll look for the DogFish, Thanks for the reccomendation! I always get lost in the beer section (of good stores) because of the incredible variety.

Greg

nor02lei
10-07-2007, 09:57
I've tried the Anniversary Ale and thought it was quite good as well. I should try one next to a standard SNPA. Any other good hoppy beer recommendations?

THanks Greg.

I did like that one to Greg. Here is a real hoppy one that I like better still: Gordonís (double IPA) from Oscar Blues brewery. I had one yesterday and it is marvellous.

Leif

SBOmarc
10-07-2007, 10:38
I am curious if these comments concerning SNPA is just from the product in the bottle,or if the same can be said when the beer is on tap? It tastes remakably better when I can get it that way. That can be said of all beer, but the contrast in this case is huge.

NorCalBoozer
10-07-2007, 10:44
I am curious if these comments concerning SNPA is just from the product in the bottle,or if the same can be said when the beer is on tap? It tastes remakably better when I can get it that way. That can be said of all beer, but the contrast in this case is huge.

I'm talking only of the bottle version and from most responses seems that others arn't seeing a difference. Weirdly it seems to have coincided with them going from a twist off cap to a crimped on cap, which I now hate.

I'll give some tapped SNPA a try next time I can.

Phischy
10-10-2007, 10:39
I'll toss my 2 cents in:

Back in the '90s SN was most likely bottle conditioning their beers. This is pretty much how most breweries start off, and with smaller fermenters they were producing a lower volume per batch. Thus you'd see more yeast in the bottom of each beer.

As they became popular and grew as a company they purchased larger fermenters (which leads to a cleaner beer) and a bottling line. Thus the need to bottle condition it's beer is gone and the yeast is likewise gone at the bottom of the bottle.

If your perception of the beer is declining in flavor, this could also be to the abundance of hoppy beers on the market. Whereis SNPA used to be the ONE hoppy beer it would constantly blow you away in comparision to the BMC's. Now with a much larger variety of hoppy beers SNPA is more in the middle of the pack, esp compared to IPAs and Double IPAs that are becoming easier to find. Just like with bourbon, the more you taste the more you know and suddenly what was so awesome when you started is more middle-of-road compared to the vast variety out there.

IMHO

I was in Philly this past weekend and I FINALLY had the chance to have 90min on tap. I did not care for it, there wasn't any balance, it had a nice hoppy nose, but the body was incredibly sweet...almost as if the bittering hops was ommitted completely. I was just very dissappointed.

For west coasters....the creme-de-la-creme for hoppy beers is Russian River's Pliny-the-Younger. It's a seasonal beer and VERY had to find but it is pure liquid golden awesome. They're located north of San Fransisco and while I've yet to go there it's one place I'd like to visit!

Look into local beers in your area and I'm sure you'll find something really good. A lot of great beers never make it past the market as they're local and not regional, ie Port Brewing, Ale Smith, Alpine etc... in my area.

But for bigger guys, the stone IPA and PA are also pretty good, but their Arrogant Bastard is just garbage. But to each their own!

craigthom
10-10-2007, 12:06
I was in Philly this past weekend and I FINALLY had the chance to have 90min on tap. I did not care for it, there wasn't any balance, it had a nice hoppy nose, but the body was incredibly sweet...almost as if the bittering hops was ommitted completely. I was just very dissappointed.

I agree with you about the dogfish, for sure. That they can get that kind of hop nose in the bottle is an impressive thing, but there's just no bite to it.

You may well be right about the changes in the beer landscape. I have been drinking increasingly bitter beers over the last several years. I still love the balance of SNPA, and I look for that kind of mouth feel and malt taste, but I want more hops.

doubleblank
10-10-2007, 12:12
A large group of SBer's went to the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa this past July. In addition to myself, there were Gary and Libby, Dane, Christian.....who am I missing? They make a wide range of beers and ales including numerous belgian styles. Some are definitely an acquired taste and many are not for casual consumption at over 10% alcohol. My favorites were their pale ales. Parking Violation is a classic american style pale ale. Dead Leaf Green was deadon as an english style pale ale. Lap Dance was also a good pale ale. We did a large sampler before ordering full pints. Probably tasted at least 15 of their beers as samples. Definitely worth a stop when in Santa Rosa.

Randy

Gillman
10-10-2007, 12:38
Fully agree, and the Dead Leaf Green was sensational. I think actually that day their sour-style Belgian was not available because still aging.

Gary

pepcycle
10-10-2007, 14:10
This topic of discussion came up at a recent BJCP class.
The consensus is that SNPA is the same. Its brewed the same. The ingredients haven't changed.
What has changed is the tolerance and interest in hopped beers. The benchmark has moved.

Phischy
10-10-2007, 14:18
Russian River's Pliny's are my favorite. As a homebrewer I'm 100% stumped how the manage to do that. I can only imagine the years of trial and error....for just 1 style of beer!

I like hops, the more the bite the better...but it's a real fine balance. I'd imagine many users here would like a hoppy beer, after all, we like bourbon's. Gimmie flavor and spice!

I don't care nearly as much for scotch or european beers.

I'd agree SNPA has remained the same, the landscape as just shifted.

TBoner
10-12-2007, 04:55
Phischy,

On some of the homebrewing boards, guys have posted recipes that have been circulated by Vinnie Cilurzo as "very near clones" of Pliny the Elder and Younger. I know brewboard is one place I saw them. Don't have them handy, though. Anyway, a place to look if you're interested in brewing something like that..

Phischy
10-12-2007, 14:56
I'll have to look into that. But since I'm doing extract at this point I don't believe I can achieve the right malt profile w/ a single extract syrup. I'm unfortunately limited severly by space at this time that negates my purchasing of all grain equipment. Basically I'm lacking a garage! I only post on northernbrewer.