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Beer Reviews

Anniversary Ale

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, CA
USA
http://www.sierra-nevada.com

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 5.9%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)


Comments:
Pair With:
I PROMISE this is the last time I’ll say this …

Part of my impetus for reviewing Sierra Nevada’s Anniversary Ale at this time is to clean out the remnants of 2007 from my beer fridge (for past examples of this bullshit claim, please see my Three Floyds Brian Boru review and Lakefront 20th Anniversary Ale review). Yes, we’re nearly a month into 2008. Yes, Groundhog Day is right around the corner (what beer will you be drinking for Grou … oh, never mind). Yes, the Iowa, Nevada, and Wyoming caucuses, as well as the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries are already over. (Why the fuck are these backwoods, out-of-touch states deciding who the rest of us get to vote for?) Yes, even the college football bowl season is over, as is the NFL (if you haven’t heard, Nigel has officially cancelled the Super Bowl due to the fact that it’s full of cheaters and whiners and Eli). Thus, it’s a bit ridiculous that I’m still talking about clearing out 2007 from my beer fridge, but Nigel is nothing if he isn’t completely ridiculous.

In my last review for Left Hand’s Imperial Stout, I made reference to certain brews or breweries that tend to get overlooked for no particular reason, sort of lost in a sea of quality craft beer. Apparently this is not only true at the local purveyor of craft beer, but also in the comfort one’s home. Nigel was very excited when he purchased his sixer of Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, since few craft brewers love Cascade hops (Nigel’s favorite) more than the folks in Chico. That was in October. Early October. Here we are in late January, and I’m tired of looking at it sitting on my shelf. Thus, I narrowed my options: drink it and review it, just drink the damn thing and get it over with, or flush it down the toilet ala the routine burial ceremony that my parents used to hold when our goldfish died (many of them were named Bishy due to an unfortunate early childhood speech impediment). I chose the first option, although I was so tired of looking at them that the later option did briefly come into play.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike Sierra Nevada; on the contrary, they’re one of my favorites. I covered this in my review for their widely distributed holiday release, Celebration Ale (Nigel likes to refer to past reviews since there are a bunch of them, and I’m my own PR agent). While Sierra Nevada is found all over the country as one of America’s preeminent craft breweries, they are a rare example of a place that deserves the hype. Sierra Nevada does a great job of utilizing their convenient location near the hops hotbeds of Oregon and Washington, as well as their proximity to the hype-heavy areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Seattle. Cascade gold is easy to use and easy to market when you’re in NoCal.

Anniversary Ale (2007 edition) marks the 27th year of Sierra Nevada’s well documented existence. Let’s see … 27 years, minus 2007 … carry the four … multiply by Π … divide by an eighth of a percent … that means Sierra Nevada was founded in 1980, give or take six years. Unlike many brewers who put out special one-time releases marking five, 10, 20, etc. birthdays, Sierra Nevada has turned this into an annual rite. While each year’s recipe is altered slightly, they all fall under the American pale ale/IPA category and are loaded with Cascade gold. In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate.

2007 Anniversary Ale pours with a pillowy white head that slowly recedes, leaving a nice creamy trace throughout, with a sticky residue on the side of the glass. It’s a perfect translucent golden brown, with mild sedimentation and a nice bit of carbonation. The aroma is second to none. Heavy doses of piney, citrusy Cascade hops inundate the nostrils with noticeable notes of grapefruit and orange zest. While hops dominate, it also has a nice backbone of earthy, grainy malt with a sweet caramel tinge. This looks and smells like a hophead’s dream come true.

The taste, while very good, doesn’t quite live up to the exquisite aromas and pleasant appearance. An initial bite of light citrus hits the tongue, with grapefruit and orange peel predominant, as well as a bit of lemon. A secondary flavor of light, sugary malt comes through next, mostly the typical flavors you find in the two-row pale and caramel malt that’s utilized in Anniversary Ale. There’s a tinge of hoppy bitterness, but for the most part it’s a light, sweet brew that is very agreeable, but not as exceptional as I first hoped it would be. It’s not terribly complex—it’s a basic American IPA with Cascade hops and light malt, but it’s tasty nonetheless, as long as you love Northwest hops. A mild ABV (5.9 percent) and light flavor that’s smooth on the tongue makes this an ideal candidate for a session brew, but again, only if you love hops. A mild aftertaste finishes off this light to medium bodied brew. It’s a bit sweeter than the flagship Pale Ale, but not as complex and balanced as Celebration Ale.

All in all, this is a nice beer, although it’s the wonderful aroma and appearance and the tolerable ABV that barely saves this from falling down to the average 3 mug rating. It’s above average for sure, but not quite as good as I was first hoping it would be. Like most Sierra Nevada brews, it’s reasonably priced at about $7 for a six-pack, so if you’re a Hophead like Nigel, I’d definitely recommend picking some up, if you can still find it. Like each annual Anniversary Ale release, it was a one-time offering that comes out in early autumn, so it may be hard to locate by now.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 31, 2008.
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