Holy crap. Sierra Nevada has been brewing beer for 40 years. 40 years! When they introduced the world to their iconic Pale Ale, the Berlin Wall was still up, music and movies were things you could hold in your hand, and people actually talked to each other. How things have changed, but not Sierra Nevada’s distinctive hop-forward brews. It was a groundbreaking approach in 1980, but thanks to Sierra Nevada, everyone knows what a “hop head” is today. To celebrate that legacy, the brewery recently bottled 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale. It’s made with Cluster, Cascade, and Centennial hops and promises on the bottle to showcase “the bold flavors and aromas of a classic West Coast IPA,” by which Sierra Nevada means the beer they made ubiquitous 40 long years ago. Let’s taste!
This one pours an intense, peach-tinted gold with a fluffy, half-inch head. The aroma is classic Sierra Nevada with pine straw and pulpy, fresh-squeezed orange juice. There’s a bit of Dubble Bubble chewing gum also, and some buttery pizza dough in the mix. The palate is light and refreshing with a good body and a sturdy malt backbone. Lemony citrus, subtle juniper, honeyed sweetness, and a slight salinity on the mid-palate make this one an easily sessionable ale. The finish is clean and bright with a crescendo of that distinctive hoppy bitterness, although less so than the classic Pale Ale. Safe to say, Sierra Nevada still knows what they’re doing, four decades and counting.