Does every beer geek go through a hoppy phase? I know I did. Several years back, pale ale and IPA were my go-to syles. I consumed copious amounts of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, all the while snatching up any imperial or double IPA I could get my hands on. But the day came when I burnt myself out, and slowly started weening myself off the heavy doses of hops. Perhaps a bold move coming from a guy who will answer "Bell's Two Hearted" without hesitation when asked what his favorite beer of all time is. It's not to say I don't drink any hoppy stuff at all anymore. Believe me, the mood still strikes, but nothing has really given new life to my taste for hoppy beers... until now.
Behold! Sierra Nevada Estate!
Estate is brewed using barley and hops grown right at the Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico, California. Two-row pale and caramel malts form a solid base to which Cascade, Chinook and Citra hops are added. The hops are used wet, meaning they're picked from the vines and used within 24 hours, with no drying process. The beer is 6.7% ABV and has 67 IBU. It is super well-balanced, with toast, caramel and a slight nuttiness complimented by orange, grapefruit, and rich floral notes. The body is light and crisp, yet the carbonation is soft and creamy, making it dangerously easy to take large gulps. This beer exudes freshness, which I think more than any other style is the key factor in any pale ale or IPA, but it's what really makes Estate come alive. To be perfectly honest, I don't think there's a pale ale available that's this good. It was just perfect. Unfortunately, it's not something they make all the time, so if you see it, do not miss the chance to enjoy it. Cheers!