DevESTATEtion | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
121 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mverity on 09-07-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 121 | Ratings: 572
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage.

Pours a clear dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. A foamy lattice of lace coats the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and slight char aromas. I am not getting any real hop aromas from this one. Taste is much the same with cocoa and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that reminds me much more of a hoppy stout or porter than a black IPA, especially with the aromas I am getting.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

When life gives you lemons... make beer! With or without this year's estate barley crop, Sierra Nevada vows not to leave their fall fans hanging. DevESTATEtion ale is a tutorial in the close relationship of the earth and the brewer- terrior at its best, and worst.

In almost obvious fashion, of course it had to be a "black" ale and of course it has to be hoppy. This allows for the dark brown ale to shed a massive, creamy, light tan head. With high retention and sticky lace, the ale is true to both its toaste and hoppy roots.

Burnt citrus and light chocolate play out on the nose with the scent of a hoppy Porter. Grapefruit, oranges and pine all seem of the scorched variety while heavy toast, nutty, and slight coffee scents abound. A starchy note of heavy whipping cream allows a slight "Whoppers" candy scent to pull from the sweetness underneath.

But that sweet cream flavor is short lived as the beer sheds its burnt toffee flavor early in order to prefer coffee roast, cocoa, and charred embers in the middle. Its hoppy counterpart is also of the burnt citrus of the nose until the ale trails into a dry toast and bitter wood finish.

Medium bodied, the ale comes dangerously close to that "porter-type" creamy sweetness. But there's just enough of that IPA crispness to cause a crispness, cleaness and drinkability that's common to hop heads. Assisted by resinous pine bitterness, char and alcohol warmth- its finish is malty-dry.

Black IPA is a fickle genre of beer. If it's a hoppy Porter, its does little to excite. But a drier, cleaner and simplified toast character really accents the hop bitterness for fuller lupulin effect. DevESTATEtion sits right on that line.

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Photo of brentk56
3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear mahogany, with an impressive three fingers of khaki foam; great retention and impressive lacing

Smell: Burnt bread, dark chocolate and piney hops

Taste: Very roasty, up front, with burnt bread and chocolate flavors; the hops jump in quickly, adding a piney element with citric undertones; the roastiness persists from start to finish and complements the bitter flavors in very assertive fashion

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: This beer charts a very aggressive course in both the roasty and bitter directions; not something I would want to drink a lot of, but a pretty good take on the style

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Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with interesting label art and waxed-over branded pressure cap acquired at me Whole Foods HQ and served into an Avery stem-snifter in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are average given the brewery. 2013 vintage. 6.70% ABV confirmed. Reviewed as a Black IPA because the label identifies it as such. "Organic." "Wet hop ale."

Served cold - straight from me fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a 1.5 finger wide head of light khaki colour. Good creaminess. Nice thickness. Inconsistent spotty lacing/legs clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes. Head retention is good - about 5 minutes.

Body colour is a predictable opaque solid black. No yeast particles are visible.

Appears well-carbonated - possibly overcarbonated.

It looks as most black IPAs do, but it's not unique or special. There are no obvious flaws. Standard fare.

Sm: Caramel, dark malts, cream, chocolate malt, hints of milk chocolate, floral hops, cocoa, vague biscotti, and pale malts. Pine, spruce, and mint surface more and more as it warms. Maybe sage too? Something else in the mint family. Vague anise, but luckily no licorice. It doesn't deliver much diversity or depth in terms of hops, but the chocolate is quite appealing here. I don't know that I'd peg it as a Black IPA if I tried it blind. I love the cocoa and biscotti notes - wow.

A surprisingly appealing aroma of moderate strength.

No alcohol or yeast character is detectable.

T: Anise comes on heavier in the taste than it did in the aroma, and is joined unfavorably by mint, sage, evergreen, and prominent pine needle hop character. Too herbal. I'd like a different hop profile - citrus, nectar, oily, fruity, anything - pine is not ideal. Caramel. Has plenty of cocoa and chocolate malt. The cocoa is lovely on its own, but unfortunately - like with many black IPAs - the "dark" aspect of the beer clashes with the hoppy aspect, yielding an imbalanced flavour profile. Far from gestalt, but it does have a decent loose cohesion. I guess some roasted barley would be nice. Most of all, I just wish the hop presence was toned down - that this weren't trying to be a black IPA at all.

Sadly, the biscotti note I was so looking forward to is nowhere to be found here. It's too bitter as well, featuring the bitterness both from the hops and from the chocolate.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. It has a forced complexity, but no subtlety.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Overcarbonated. Unrefreshing. Lightly oily. Chewy. Smooth and wet. Has a good body and presence on the palate; it's a shame the flavour profile isn't better. Good thickness. Suits the flavour profile well in a general sense, but the texture doesn't seem custom-tailored to the taste.

Not astringent, harsh, boozy, hot, gushed, or rough.

Dr: Huge ripoff for the (lack of) quality. This is the type of beer many people forget about when they claim that Sierra Nevada is the best value brewery in the country. Where's the roasty character they brag about on the label? I'd honestly recommend just setting this one down for a few years; maybe age will get rid of the lackluster hop character and let the well-executed cocoa powder and chocolate malt notes take over. Hell, if they don't want it to be aged, why are they waxing it? I wouldn't get this again, nor would I recommend it to friends. Not the strongest Black IPA I've had so far, but not the weakest either. Another mundane brew in an emerging young style. I appreciate the effort to scrap together something new due to a failed harvest, but who are we kidding? Drinkable but underwhelming.

I do have to concede it's above average for the style, but perhaps only because so many beers in the style are fundamental failures - especially with regard to balance.

Low C+

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Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish hued deep walnut brown witha large sticky off white head atop,wow it sticks like glue to the glass and glides down very slowly.Roasted and light earthy notes in the nose along with more mild chocolate and piney hops.Quite dry and earthy on the palate up front,very earthy in fact,light bitter chocolate provides scant sweetness,herbal and pine hops linger in the finish.A solid beer,one of the dryer ABA's I have had to date.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled 9/27/2013. Pours lightly hazy deep reddish brown color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, orange/lemon zest, chocolate, cocoa, toast, roasted malt, coffee, floral, grass, pine, and floral/roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of hop and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big grapefruit, orange/lemon zest, cocoa, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, coffee, floral, grass, pine, and floral/roasted earthiness. Fair amount of earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, orange/lemon zest, cocoa, chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, toast, floral, pine, grass, and floral/roasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance and complexity of hop and malt flavors; with a great hop/roasted malt balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a fairly creamy, moderately sticky, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent Black IPA. All around great balance and complexity of roasted malt and hop flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of mactrail
3.08/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown brew with a big beige foam in the tall Petrus goblet. Very attractive with an abundance of lacing, plus the appealing sudsy mouthful. A rather earthy and musty smell with a note of tea.

Medium body with a malty mouthfeel. Quite bitter right from the start. Hints of chocolate (bitter, natch) and a little cedar. Strong herbal tea and serious dankness. Dirty dreadlock bong water dankness.

I'm not entirely sure what's the point of this exercise. Guys who own hop farms shouldn't have to prove it. This is massively bitter and hard to get down. A beautiful but deadly brew. From the 22 oz bottle.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.17/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Big khaki head. Sugary legs. Deep brown body.

Smell - Nutty with some grassy hops. Smells like a hoppy brown.

Taste - Grassy and grapefruit hop. Lots of deep caramel malts. Some bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Well carbonated.

Overall - It's ok, but it's not a black ipa. Just a hefty brown ale.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The bottle I just cranked was from 2013. The color was a dark ruby amber with frothy white head that left some lace. The scent carried floral and citrus notes. The taste was mostly roast and earth with good pine and citrus back drop. The mouthfeel was medium in body with good carbonation. Overall it was good...but not the best BIPA ive had.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a Dogfish Head old style IPA glass.

This is a real looker of an ale. Out of the bottle chestnut brown, but hits with dark walnut brown/black colors, and has this gorgeous ruby red hue to it. Head forms like nothing, 4 fingers tall clumpy retention, and island cap with a little bit of swiss cheese bubbles not totally but closely uniform. And absolutely gorgeous looking beer.

Nose is a bit of a one note wonder, but it's a good one. Large aromatic dark cocoa powder just bursting. Slight juicy fruits and grapefruit quality possibly hiding. Not very complicated, but it's a very enjoyable aroma.

Palate brings much of the same. However, the chocolate notes are toned down as dark roasted malts compliment but take a backseat to some wonderful juicy hop fruit character. Nice mellow grapefruit, complimenting roast to go with it hinting at drip bean coffee. The mouthfeel does bring a little bit of silky quality, and the dark chocolate comes with more sweetness as it warms.

This is a nice wonderful "diversion" from what Sierra Nevada had in mind, wonderful job.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a very dark mahogany brown with a two finger light tan head with good retention and lots of lacing. Nice aroma of piney and citrus hops, orange, grapefruit and dark toasted malt. Flavor is a nice citrusy caramel malt with citrus and pine hops, somewhat earthy; hints of chocolate. Finishes with citrus rind and pine needles, herbal hops. Medium bodied with peppery carbonation. A very nice Cascadian dark ale with a very well integrated toaste malt and fresh tasting hops. I expect the best from Sierra Nevada and this one delivered in full. I will have to get another bottle of this while it's still around.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a foamy black, with a good head, and lots of lacing.

One of the better versions of a kind of silly style here, this is definitely more black than IPA, with a nice nutty, roasty, and chocolatey backbone, with a heavy bitterness. Not much in the way of fruity hops for me. Pretty nice stuff.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From the 750 ml. bottle. Sampled on December 24, 2013.

The pour is dark amber with ruby red hues and a good supply of tan head that leaves a decent amount of lacing in its wake.

The aroma is mildly hopped but more focused on the medium dark malts and mild sweetness. Good grainy character. A bit of butter.

The body is medium with the slightest astringency happening. Hops can do that.

The taste has a decent caramel maltiness at first that is quickly offset by vague fruitiness and medium hop finish. It does finish well but the finish lingers. A decent Black IPA.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a dark brown, almost black, body with big head and had an aroma that mixed roasted barley and caramel malt along with some breadiness, hint of dark chocolate (I think) and a touch of hops. A good beer that has two major cornerstones (malts and hops) some will like more than others and one I'm glad I had but probably wouldn't go for again. There is a large chunk of roasted malts with a coffee edge in this beer, also possible chocolate or toffee overtones, along with a rather strong dry citric/piney hops base (these hops are not mere decoration or for a crisp finish). Medium bodied and has a dry finish, a hearty beer that will take some sips to polish off.

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Photo of corby112
2.9/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears nearly black in the glass, with dark mahogany edges and a frothy, two finger beige head that very slowly settles into a thick, lasting cap/ring. The retention is crazy, almost too good, taking forever to settle. The glass is left coated with rings and chunks of soapy lacing.

The dank, earthy hops and smokey roasted dark malts combine for a very odd, metallic-like aroma with a strong phenol/chemical character that is very unpleasant. Resinous pine sap, grass, dirt/soil and spruce tip followed by smoke, charcoal, roasted malt, coffee bean and oatmeal. There's a touch of caramel sweetness in the nose but the hop and malt combination makes it smell like phenolic bandaid. Everything seems to clash and scream, "Don't drink this"!

Thankfully this beer tastes a lot better than it smells. The solvent-like chemicals and phenols that I picked up in the nose are nowhere to be found. The hop and malt flavors are better integrated than I expected. The hop profile is still kind of one dimensional, however, with lots of dry, earthy bitterness. Resinous oil, sticky buds, grass, pine tree and spruce tip flavor give this beer overwhelming bitterness that's decently cut by the complex flavors of the malt bill. The malts are pretty robust and smokey but there's some underlying sweetness that balances things out. The smoked and charred malt compliment the hop bitterness with hints of charcoal, burnt toast, deeply roasted coffee bean and oatmeal. This is countered by bittersweet dark chocolate, toffee and slight caramel flavor. A bit harsh and nit the mist balanced beer but after the palate adjusts to the bitterness, this beer becomes decently drinkable.

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Photo of JohnParadee
4.21/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful pour and appearance in tulip glass. Deep, dark hue and thick, tan head -- two inches at start, with long lasting lacing. Looks like a stout, but smells like an ale. I really like black IPAs (like 21st Amendment Back In Black), and this is a very good one. Although the nose is somewhat unrevealing of the ultimate character here, the initial taste immediately rectifies that shortcoming by showing the subtle coffee/caramel hints which make this BIPA uniquely intriguing. All in all, I like this BIPA enough to buy it again, notwithstanding that it doesn't provide the "full chubby" I was a hoping for.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the Wegmans Dewitt NY for $10

Appearance - Brown colour with an average size beige coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, coffee, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, coffee, and quite a bit of hops. There is also some chocolate and a bit of grapefruit.

Overall - I'd like a little more of a lip smacking fruit juiciness in this one. There are lots of hops to make up for that though. A good beer, but one and done for me at the price point. I'll just buy Stone SSR or the Firestone black ale for less money.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.45/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a dark brown with a nice dirty cream-colored head that fades into a thin cap with a little bit of lacing

S: Sordove of a letdown actually. I received lots of roasted malt and coffee but not much on the hop backing. I literally had to faceplant in order to get any pine or Earthiness to this beer.

T: Initially I receive a blend of cocoa and coffee, nice amount of roast a very tame pine and Earthiness appear bt it's just low rent. The finish has a lingering roasted and moderate bitterness with some cocoa on the end

M: The body was light-medium to medium but I thought it was pretty creamy initially.

O: Sordove disappointed on this. Not a bad beer but definitely a little weak on the hop presence, especially to carry such a name and black wax...

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Photo of Immortale25
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/2 inch light tan head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a bubbly patch of surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves a thick ring behind.

S- A lot of chocolate, some spice and a little coffee is coming from the nose making for a unique bouquet. There's also some hop fume and a tinge of booze.

T- Dark roasted malt flavor with some bitterness on the back end. Everything's balanced but accentuated if that makes sense. The roast hits hard, the hops hit hard but both work in harmony.

M- A bit on the thin side but has some hop oiliness to it. Medium carbonation and a mostly full body.

O- If the reason they went black for this edition of Estate is because their crop was decimated, then it was a blessing in disguise and I hope they never go back. Get it?

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, going by the date code printed on the bottle it was bottled on September 25, 2013. Served in a Dogfish Head IPA glass, the beer pours dark reddish/brown with an inch light tan head that stays around for a long time. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted malt, citrusy hops, coffee and some dark bread. It tastes like roasted malt, citrusy and earthy hops, dark bread, coffee, and some dark chocolate. There's a nice bitter finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and slick with a good amount of soft carbonation. To me it seems more like a hoppy porter than a black IPA, but I'm not complaining. I think it's a good brew. $8.99 a bottle, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of DrJay
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear, deep brown with a thick (1 inch) beige/tan cap. Tons of thick lacing, great head retention. Aromas of roasted malts and citrus pith, malty and fruity, but nicely restrained. Well balanced up front, a combination of malt, roast, hops, citrus, then lingering bitterness. Pretty much all citrus all the way. Mild warmth, medium bodied, moderate carbonation, decent texture. Not a lot of astringency from the dark malts. I thought this was a pretty tasty beer.

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Photo of Bung
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. A really dark brown pour, frothy tan head that retains well.

Aroma, Some herbal hops, toasted malt and peat.

Taste, More bitter piney hop here, large roast bite. Toasted malt, very dark chocolate nearly unsweetened at all. Heavy anise, a tiny bit of coffee.

Light side of medium body. A bit resiney, easy to drink. Very good level of carbonation.

May not be the typical hop disaster most are looking for, but this is another typically well crafted by Sierra Nevada. Aroma is just very muddling for some reason. Worth trying and the price is reasonable by todays standards.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, clear deep ruby when pouring. One finger off white head that leaves great lacing.

S-Very roasty, some chocolate, dirt and other earthy hops.

T-Starts rather roasty with dark chocolate and slight coffee. Some dirt and earth. Nice bitterness to round it out.

M-Medium bodied, really nice carbonation, a tad velvetly, some hops as well.

O-Not as good as Estate, but a great idea to salvage the hop crop.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.55/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle $10.49. Dark brown color but not quite black. Aroma has hints of fresh hops but nothing major, bits of roasted malts too. Almost smells like porter. Flavor has a bit of juicy citrus but really tastes like a hoppy porter. I think they should have used the fresh hops for a pale ale to showcase them better. This was also a complete ripoff for $10.49.

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Photo of n2185
3.64/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a clear, dark brown with copper highlights and three fingers of cream-colored head that fades into a thin cap with a solid sheet of lacing.

S: Roasted malts with sweet cocoa up front followed by earthy and piney hop aromas bringing up the finish.

T: Roasted malts here as well with bitter chocolate and coffee flavors followed by resinous pine hop flavors. The finish is moderately bitter with some char flavors.

M: Body is on the lighter side of moderate with medium carbonation, this beer avoids being too watery or oily feeling.

O: A solid beer, overall. I'd like a bit more complexity from the hops and maybe a bit less bitterness, but it's still enjoyable.

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DevESTATEtion from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.89 out of 5 based on 572 ratings.
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