Tasting the Sierra Nevada Estate Brewers Harvest Ale

“This is one of the only estate-made ales available in the world today. Produced with hops and barley grown on the premises of our brewery in Chico, this ale reflects the flavors of our surroundings in California’s fertile Central Valley. By growing our own natural ingredients, we ensure the finest two-row barley and the freshest hops on earth, from the field and into the brew kettle.”

This is the beautiful sentiment on the front of this Sierra Nevada bottle that says it all. Everything that went into this beer was grown and tended to by Sierra Nevada with passion and care. The fields began with hops in 2003, and the first Estate Ale was released in 2008. Then by the next release (this, the 2009) Sierra Nevada also had a fresh and tall field of barley to harvest, and thus was born a completely estate grown beer. The idea was taken from the wine world, where terroir references the various geographical locations where grapes grow and how that affect the wine.  Amazing work guys.

Really we shouldn’t be surprised; I mean, this is Sierra Nevada we’re talking about. One of the original craft brewers in North America, and one of three or four brewers which single handedly proved to the world that Craft Beer is amazing! These guys helped spark the boom! Beyond that, many people consider their Pale Ale to be the definitive example of an American Pale Ale. No small feat there.

The Estate is the first in a series of four beers for Sierra Nevada known as the Harvest Series. A few months ago I wrote about the Wet Hop, which utilizes fresh, rather than dried hops, and soon I will review the Southern Hemisphere, which uses three hop varieties all from New Zealand. But back to the Estate.

It comes in a wide 750ml capped bottle at 6.7% abv. I opened it up cool around 8C (45F) and poured it into Sierra Nevada’s own pint glass. It poured out smoothly but met the glass with a rush of life and combustion. A hugely frothy head was building immediately, I had to slow my roll to let the beer catch up. Eventually a rather beautiful pillowy eggshell head was built near two inches tall. The bubbles were amazingly precise and consistent, and stood with great retention for several minutes. The beer below was a rich and glowing copper orange with golden browns and beams of red oak pouring out of it. The Estate showed great depth and was lightly hazy into the light. Very exciting so far.

The nose here is classic Sierra Nevada. Big fresh and zesty hops make their way directly into your olfactory sensors brining grapefruit, orange zest, and huge floral aromas. Right next to it though is sweet and caramely malts showing light sugar, hints of candy, and soft toffee. The hops and pale malts do come together to form a toasty, lemon peel malt aroma which is both fresh, and slightly resiny. Big blasts of refreshment come out everywhere in the nose and a deeply aromatic fashion.

In for a big swoosh of this beer brings with it smooth and mouth watering pale and caramel malt sensations first, followed shortly by quenching hop citrus bites and fresh earth. Great overall feeling here, really great. The malts are distinctly apparent showing juicy candy apple, freshly sweet toffee, hints of cookie and nougat, with light toast and creamy maltiness.

Hops definitely play a just-barely-dominant role here, but the beauty is this rich malt backbone. It really allows the hops to come to the front without blasting a painfully bitter beer at you. As such, lightly crisp but genuinely smooth hops fall straight back down your tongue and flood your cheeks with the classical west coast flavors of grapefruit peel, lemon zest, hints of pine, fresh grass, herbs and fresh cut flowers. The hops add a dryness to a seemingly mouth watering and juicy beer. This all works together to form perfectly immaculate balance. Bitter is balanced by sweet, malt by zest, crisp by smooth, and fresh by depth. Awesome guys.

The finish is hop centered and shows me and 80/20 mix of clean and alive hop zest, and creamy and gentle malt warmth. I don’t know if this beer could have been done any better. This is a mouth watering, palate quenching, flavor erupting sensational beer that will treat the hopheads to a taste of heaven, and malt fans to a soothing harmony. I’m not even going to suggest food, just have it on its own with friends.


One Response to Tasting the Sierra Nevada Estate Brewers Harvest Ale

  1. […]  Great beer minds are at work here, and I have faith in this beer after enjoying both the Estate and the Wet Hop, two other of the four beers in this Harvest Series. The whole idea is the absolute […]

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