Sierra Nevada 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale: Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by beer_thusiast, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Agreed, but as I posted above, the brewer seems to be considering it in the bucket of “West Coast IPA”.

    Sure, the label says, “Hoppy Anniversary Ale”, but they’ve never explicitly labeled any IPA as a West Coast IPA, with the exception of one of their Beer Camp beers.
  2. Zorro

    Zorro Poo-Bah (4,839) Dec 25, 2003 California

    Well tried it and my opinion? Tasty as Hell! Exceedingly well made.

    See Stone you can make a good beer without beating us to death with hops!
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Wow, your palate is very different from my palate in this regard. Earlier this evening I had a draft pint of SN 40th to see if maybe a draft version would be different but this draft pint tasted just like what I drank from the bottle.

    You can read more this Sunday on NBS.

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  4. russpowell

    russpowell Poo-Bah (9,788) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    tried it again, getting less of pils experience, but doesn't really trip my levers as a West Coast IPA, to me it is more of a plain Jane IPA that is pretty middle of the pack
  5. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (250) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    This isn't a WCIPA - there's barely any malt presence. Those who do think so might want to recalibrate a bit.
    steveh likes this.
  6. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,167) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Ya I don't seem to be experiencing this beer the way many other people are. I get a pretty prominent malt flavor (bready with a light caramel hint) and the hops taste very piney/resinous, next to zero citrus, but a strong herbal note that I want to call out as bergamot (which I think others have noted as a tea like note).
    Probably not coincidentally I do not like this beer as much as others seem to. Palates are strange things, I really want to try this classic west.coast IPA that the marketing team and many on this board have described but every one of these 40th bottles I've had has been the same piney/earthy beer with a strong earl grey note and a relatively prominent malt character. Almost like a hoppy amber from the 90s or something.
    Whatever's going on, I seem to be the outlier here so cheers to Sierra Nevada for 40 great years and to 40 more. And cheers to all us lucky beer drinkers, especially the ones loving this special release from those fine folks in Chico
  7. defunksta

    defunksta Crusader (731) Jan 18, 2019 Illinois

    Great point. You might add "American IPA" to the style. I feel that there is enough that wouldn't qualify into any of these categories. "American" being a more balanced or malted version of the West Coast.
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I discussed this beer in today's New Beer Sunday thread:

    Happy 40th Anniversary Sierra Nevada!

    I was trying to remember when I first had a Sierra Nevada beer. I am pretty sure it was SNPA but what year that would be is eluding my memory banks. It had to be well over 20 years ago but which year?

    Anyway, the fact that Sierra Nevada has finally reached their 40th anniversary is a big deal IMO. I have a related anniversary story from November 2017 that I posted in a past thread:

    “I have been on a road trip the past three weeks with the principle purpose of visiting family and friends in Texas. This past week was the return leg with a route of Texas to New Orleans (2 nights) to Asheville (2 nights), Virginia (1 night) and then home.

    On the way to Asheville we stopped off at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River, NC and luckily we arrived at the taproom at 8:50 pm (10 minutes before closing time). I was informed by the bartender that earlier that evening they celebrated the 37th Anniversary of Sierra Nevada: a speech from Brian Grossman and free pretzels and free chicken wings. I was bummed out that we were late to the party. The good news is that at least we could buy a beer (or two) and eat some dinner. I saw their extensive tap list (20 different brands) but I immediately zeroed in on the Kolsch – one of my favorite styles.”

    There has been some discussion that for their 40th Anniversary Sierra Nevada should have made a ‘different’ type beer. Personally I am very pleased they decided to make this beer an homage to their roots.

    From the Sierra Nevada website:


    Two-row Pale, Caramelized malts, Acidulated, Oats


    Cluster, Cascade, Centennial”

    Look at that hop bill, they even took the step to use the ‘heritage’ American hop of Cluster hops (I presume for bittering) in this beer. In a couple of weeks I will be once again be brewing my annual batch of Classic American Pilsner and yes using Cluster hops for bittering this beer.


    “Hop-forward beers weren’t popular when we started brewing in 1980. But we loved them, and we knew that if we were going to open a brewery, we’d better make something distinctive. It’s been 40 years since then, and we’re still brewing what we love. This beer showcases the bold flavors and aromas of a classic West Coast IPA: intense pine and citrus with a deep gold color and slight caramel sweetness. Here’s to following your passion, and to the next 40 years.”

    Well, what does an homage beer taste like? Let’s find out.

    Served in my Spiegelau IPA glass:


    Golden colored with a big, fluffy white head.


    The aroma is subtle, mostly a combination of citrus & fruity but there is some pine as well.


    The flavor is ‘better’ than the nose with more notable citrus/fruity but some pine is there as well. There is a moderate bitterness.


    It is light - medium bodied with an off-dry finish. There is also a subtle but noticeable aspect of astringent here.


    I think this beer is good. I enjoyed the hop flavors of this beer.

    For my palate this beer would have benefited from having more malt qualities – particularly more body. Oh, and an even lower amount of astringency would have been an improvement.

    GO CHIEFS!!!!


  9. MacMalt

    MacMalt Poo-Bah (3,667) Jan 28, 2015 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Good looking glass!
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  10. MacMalt

    MacMalt Poo-Bah (3,667) Jan 28, 2015 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    With the first 5 bottles of the 6-pack I wasn't overly impressed but I just had the last one and thought the balance of malt and dry, bitter hops was much better. I may pick up another pack.
  11. KentT

    KentT Aspirant (211) Oct 15, 2008 Tennessee

    I liked the first 6 pack so fine, I am going to buy another 6 pack or three. A finely balanced ale, which is very liked.
  12. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Agreed, my last bottle was the tastiest.

    As a tease (and because I don’t feel like writing out the details right now), here’s a preview of my second blind tasting with this beer on Super Bowl Sunday...congratulations Chiefs fans!

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  13. HaoleBoy

    HaoleBoy Devotee (401) Mar 3, 2017 California

    such stuff as dreams are made on!
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  14. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,595) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Um, not exactly "blind." :wink:

    Man -- that Bigfoot is darker than I remember.
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  15. lastmango

    lastmango Champion (898) Dec 11, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Had one last night. I thought it was well balanced and very drinkable.
    dukeandduke likes this.
  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Haha, we had them in coffee mugs for the blind tasting and then poured the rest in glasses just because I wanted to have a picture showing the differences in color of all four. Looks really cool in my opinion side by side.

    And yeah, that Bigfoot is a real outlier here. I had a 2020 Bigfoot yesterday, it’s REALLY good this year. I highly recommend picking some up if you see it.
  17. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (762) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Still no Bigfoot sighting around here. I have a case in order but the shop can’t tell me when they might get it. At this rate it will be spring before it arrives.

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  18. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Luckily you don't have to worry about freshness with this one.
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  19. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,595) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Now you did it... (waiting for new can of worms fallout -- :wink:)
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  20. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (598) Nov 23, 2008 New York

    Worm #1 :wink: I really had a problem with Bigfoot at 1-3+ years old. Medicinally bitter (especially at 1-yr.) I've only enjoyed it fresh.
  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,595) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I have some stored Bigfoot vintages, sort of wondering if I should bite the bullet and do a vertical tasting before the beer, or I, is too old.
  22. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Ha well @Giantspace said he might not receive it until spring. My bottles are from December. That would be at most 5 months old. Basically, I don't think anyone has to worry about this losing anything in the first month like people do with some styles.

    I have the last of my aged Bigfoot in my fridge ready to go for a vertical. I've been slowly picking away at them over the years.

    2011 - 2015...and then 2020. Bit of a gap, but that's ok.
  23. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (762) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Yup, I still have a few older ones put away. Love this beer fresh and aged

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  24. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,167) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Please do
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  25. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,595) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Heh. Maybe this is an opportunity to get together with @AlcahueteJ for a looong weekend. :wink:
  26. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,825) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    This is one beer that I regret not aging for more than 5 years. Well, maybe I have?
    The old grey matter, it ain't what it used to be.
  27. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,678) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    In December I brought along a 2009 Bigfoot to share with @zid ; perfect occasion to crack a 10 year old bottle, I figured. That was until I was reminded that it comes out early in the year, so that one was nearly 11 years old, lol!

    On one hand, it was showing some signs of oxidation; but on the other, the hops and malt still packed a surprisingly nice punch.
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  28. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Personally I feel it peaks at 5 years. It's not bad after that, but it's sublime at 5 years, and I haven't noticed it getting better after that.

    Ha, yeah I do this all the time. I look at the bottle cap and forget that it was likely bottled the year prior.
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  29. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,411) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I've been doing some Bigfoot verticals this year. Once I'm done, if I get around to it, I'll post about it in the Bigfoot thread in the cellaring portion of the site and I'll tag you animals.
  30. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Huh, didn't even know there was a Bigfoot thread there.
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  31. Ollie63

    Ollie63 Initiate (56) Nov 30, 2018 Ohio

    I thought it was fine. Not bad by any means, just very forgettable. When I see something released to commemorate something like an anniversary I would expect it to be...memorable.
  32. Scotchboy

    Scotchboy Meyvn (1,342) Dec 7, 2010 Idaho

    [​IMG] Having it for the first time, I agree with most that I do like it; its a tasty and easy-drinking hoppy ale in the vein of a lot of other SN beers - but I was surprised at how middle-of-the-road it is for an anniversary as big as 40.
  33. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (598) Nov 23, 2008 New York

    I guess SN is holding out for their 50th Anniversary to release a more eye-popping and memorable beer. 40 is big, but it's not one of the major milestones like 50 (gold).
    BTW, I've enjoyed the 4 bottles I'd had so far. Solid in the SN way.
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  34. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Ok, I've been lazy enough. Time to recap this second blind tasting. Spoiler alert, it's not exciting.

    C-hops seem to really screw up my palate. Because outside of the Bigfoot I ONCE AGAIN was not able to discern between Pale Ale, 40th Anniversary, and Celebration. As someone else said before, Bigfoot is just too huge to not tell it apart. That being said, on my second go around I couldn't even tell the difference between Bigfoot and the others.

    I did take my time and drank water in between beers as well. Oh well. It was enjoyable to sit back and sip on all four after the tasting. That 2020 Bigfoot is so good this year.

    As an aside, I had a 40th Annivesary after this tasting on a separate evening (I think I've had four or five total) and I really enjoyed this one the most.

    Here's the dates of all four beers:

    40th Anniversary: 12/10/19

    Pale Ale: 10/17/19

    Bigfoot: 12/4/19

    Celebration: 10/29/19
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  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,595) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    The older strains don't for me, but the newer ones do. Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial are always delicious to me. Add in Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic -- etc., I can't get thru 2 bottles.
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  36. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,167) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Well it’s not that I don’t love all of the above. I love the C-hops in the SN beers. It’s just that it appears they muddle my palate.

    For example, I’ve done blind tastings with New England IPAs and could tell them apart.
    steveh likes this.
  37. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,015) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    This is what great brewers do.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  38. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,015) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    When I can purchase a 12-pack of SNPA or SN40 for $12.99 or $13.99 I know where my money will go for regular drinking. Sierra Nevada still wins the quality and pleasure lottery.
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  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,368) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Those 12 packs are $20.99 plus sales tax at my local Retail Beer Distributor. No 'lottery' here.

  40. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,015) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Yeah, Harris-Teeter does two weeks a month between $12.99 and $13.99. I tell ya Jack, I cannot turn that down. And it's on all flavors in 12-packs, cans or bottles.