Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2013, Wet Hop Ale, , Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. Alc. 6.7% by Vol.

Clouded, with crimson coloring, under a rocky, boisterous head, leaving lacing.

Lively hoppiness marks the aromatics, of course. a beautiful showcase of piney and floral goodness. Ahhh….gorgeous.

Tasting it: All that glorious hop bounty arrived on the tongue with terrific aplomb. Extraordinarily generous hop delivery is the hallmark of this historic brew. The back of the label boasts it thusly: "Our Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale was the first American beer ever brewed with 100% fresh-picked "wet" hops. In one day, we harvest hops in Yakima, WA, ship them the same night to our brewery in Chico, CA, and into the brew kettles at dawn the following day. This extraordinary effort creates a beer unmatched aromatics of fresh pine, green grass, , and citrus--with layers of spicy bitter-sweet notes that hop fanatics like us dream of all year."

Man, that takes me back. I remember when word of this beer, originally just called Harvest Ale, first started spilling out, and how you could only get it in limited markets, and on draft only. Eventually it found it's way here, and I managed to get a keg in -(I'm gonna guess 2005? maybe?)----. This was before others got into the act, before Town Hall started the Fresh Hop Ale, before Surly did their Wet, before Indeed began their project, and if you're in a different region, you can just adjust  according to your geographic circumstances. There certainly wasn't anything like this, until Sierra Nevada got the ball rolling. I have to admit that I completely forgot about SN's Harvest ale in the intervening years. Not that it's not as good, it's just not necessary, since we have all these locally brewed version. (And, I presume, so many other communities have theirs.)

Medium bodied, hop forward, malt does it's thing, which in this circumstance means letting the hops take a bow. And they do, but how.

There's more of what I mostly refer to disparagingly as gobbledygook on the front: "Each fall, hops reach their peak flavor--bursting with aromatic oils that five ales layers of complex flavor and aroma that can only happen at harvest time. For us, fall comes twice a year--once in each hemisphere. This Harvest Ale features "wet", or un-dried whole-cone hops from Yakima, WA, that are plucked from the bine and delivered to our brewery within 24 hours of picking."

I looked it up on, and here is my original review, taken from a pint at some unidentified bar, before I could get my hands on a keg. It was very limited availability, then, and I didn't sell enough (or any!) SN to warrant getting one of the few kegs. These notes are from November 9, 2004:

Appearance: clear and bronze, under a light, thin, creamy tannish head.
Aroma: now, we're getting somewhere, fresh, fruity, ...citrus, grapefruit, peach, apricot, ...piney, floral, complex, and arousing.
On the palate, brisk and bold, grabbing and dominating the senses,a great hoppy blast with every swallow. Warm and toasty on the tongue, palpable hoppiness, hops never stop popping!
Great tasting, full bodied, with a long, fresh, hoppy finish.
My first encounter with this brew that I thought I'd have to travel to California to try, and now I'll have to return to the pub to satisfy this hop-craving I've developed!
In fact, it reminds me of the time two years back when I bought a new acquaintance a beer, and he had no choice, offered that he'd have whatever I had. So, I bought him a SN Celebration. Before he was halfway done with the pint, it started gurgling out of his mouth, and he offered no explanation for why it fled his lips.
Next time I saw him, he was drinking Rolling Rock.
If I bought him a pint of this, I'm thinking he would've hurled when it first met his mouth

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