Monday, December 5, 2011

Sierra Nevada: Hops vs Malt

This week I seem to have had my fill of Sierra Nevada beers, first at a Steal the Pint Night at Fireworks, Arlington; and then at home comparing two special brews: Celebration Ale and Ovila Dubbel. The goal at Fireworks was to sample the Raiders Of The Lost Hops, brewed during Beer Camp #58. The beer is an Imperial Red Ale - although that style isn't officially recognized - which is basically a maltier version of an American IPA. This beer was brewed using 100% estate Chinook hops (harvested at the brewery's hop farm) and I like the use single hop varieties as with the use of Simcoe. This beer is quite balanced - not overly hoppy. Too bad it won't last long. My second beer was the seasonal Celebration Ale. The beer utilizes Cascade & Centennial hops in for both finishing and dry hopping. The result is as expected - strong aromas and strong tail. I had another Celebration a couple days later which led me to bring some home to pair with a bottle of Oliva Duppel. The Oliva series is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and the Monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, Vina CA. The Dubbel is a copper colored sweet ale with plenty of raisin and caramelized sugar. The problem, after consuming a hoppier Celebration, the Dubbel was too sweet, with no feeling of balance. The remedy - a home blend of 75%\25% Oliva and Celebration - just enough hops to counteract the sugar - but not enough to overwhelm the raisin and other spices. Sometimes, you have to drink outside the box.

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