1001 Beers: Sierra Nevada… AGAIN!

The simple things in life are what makes it worth living. Stopping fill up the tank with gas on a road trip.

I guess that runs you about $50.

Realizing that you are on the only road that leads directly to Chico and Sierra Nevada Brewery… The stuff dreams are made of.

So, the last time I went to the brewery, I had almost the biggest beergasm of my life and I didn’t even make it in time for the tour or any of that… Well, this time I got there at about 1230pm. Tours run almost every hour. I could have cried and I had my growler in the back seat… I know, knowing I had no intentions on going there, that doesn’t make sense. But as a good Soldier, Always ready.

So, Sierra Nevada is probably my number 2 or number 3 brewery. It is hard to figure this out. I mean, you all know Numero Uno is New Belgium. Duh, but when it comes to Deschutes and Sierra Nevada… I’m torn. I really do not know how to decide. The thing that really sucks is I have never been to the Deschutes Bend Brewery. Only the Portland Pub. Not that there is a problem with that, but when it comes to the original or the second… The original is where I want to go. Which also brings me to this. I am so glad I made it here again being I am moving out to North Carolina and Sierra Nevada will be opening up out there soon. Only 250 miles away!!! MWAHAHAHA!!! but anyway…

This time, like I was saying, I made it to the tour. I thought it was pretty awesome at first just to be there and was totally expecting the same tour I get from every brewery that I have ever been to. While this one followed the same basic format, it took the cake for all the ones I have been a part of. It revitalized my love for homebrewing.

Not that it was gone, but since I have no brewed in over a year and I do not know when I will be able to again being my housing situation and equipment situation have not been completely hashed out yet, but I just have not been around it other than talking about it. I miss it.

Like all of the major craft breweries, Ken Grossman started out as a homebrewer and with a partner in the business but then went big time and yada, yada, yada. He sticks to his roots and that is what counts. But when it comes to the tour, they take you throughout his whole world. The whole brewhouse smelled like my kitchen… or rather a brewery. The mash, the boil, the crushing of the grain. You could smell it all. I loved it so much. I missed it so much. They start with the early days of his brewing and moves to more modern but you are along for the whole ride. You do the classic, we are a craft brewery and taste the malts we use in beer thing, (I was chatting with the tour guide, so he knew I am an All Grain Brewer but they still have to go through the motions), but then we got to do stuff I have never done on a tour to date.

THEY LET US PLAY WITH THE HOPS!!!

And that was just the start of it. After playing with the hops, the grain crusher, putting our heads in the mash tun, lauter tun, and watching it head into the boil kettle, we actually got to taste the wort that was run off from the mash. They had a sampling of Torpedo available for us. Which was super awesome because that is one of my favorite IPAs… or rather, XPA. However you refer to it.

This was just so exciting because as I brewer who has not been brewing, I know how this whole process is done and with the plant in production, it was like I was doing it again. The only thing that would have made it even more similar would be if we got to taste the hopped, post boil wort and take gravity readings haha! But yeah…

They went into a lot about the brewery. About how environmentally conscious they are, what they are doing for the environment, the community, and the customers. That was all pretty cool as well. They gave us info about every step of the process, including bottling and kegging. They are actually pretty efficient and it makes me appreciate them even more. But it was after this that we got to the point that everyone goes on the tour for. The Tasting. I assumed it would be nothing less than the best but there was an amazing offering on tap and we got to try them all.

Draught Style Pale Ale, Kellerweis (Which is one of the reasons this post is part of my 1001 Beers series), Old Chico, Summerfest, Ovila Dubbel, Torpedo, Southern Hemisphere, & Hoptimum. This was pretty much a dream come true. I learned a lot of good things about these beers and the brewery along with the expansion during the tasting portion. I know I forgot to mention this earlier, but there were only 4 of us on the tour. Yeah, I know what you are saying but it was a Thursday afternoon, again 1pm. This made it all that much better. They gave us a souvenir for the hard time we got. I will carry it always.

Beer Number 9: Kellerweis. I loved the Spice, Clove, Banana, Citrus of this beer. It was done in perfect harmony. I do not like very many hefe’s, but when they are done right, they are damn amazing. This is a pretty good example. I should have included this one as well in my Blue Moon alternative project.

After the tour I did the touristy thing and checked out the gift shop. I freaked when I saw a sign and thought that the 30th Anniversary Grand Cru was $99.00 a bottle but, with a little help, figured out that was the price for a case. Not bad. Though, I only got one bottle of that. I also picked up a Jack and Ken’s BarleyWine. I already have a bottle in the cellar but being I only had one I did not know when to drink it. It was that classic battle of, “This is not the right occasion, I am scared it is not ready to be drank yet, etc. etc.”, so now I have a bottle to have and one to save… or drink immediately after I finish the first. Then the choice came down to Pale, Torpedo, or Southern Hemisphere…

I knew I wanted the Torpedo, so that was one down but then it was a hard choice between the Pale and Southern Hemisphere. I know, it sounds easy but I just drank a bottle of Southern Hemisphere the day before and I was torn whether I wanted it again or not since I just had it on the tour too. I decided to go with the Pale. The reasoning… SWMBO picked for me and both was not an option haha! Buying for came with a cool little bag. I also got a bar towel and BBQ sauce, but yeah… after this, it was time for some eats! Both the Torpedo and Pale will get their own 1001 Beers post since I bought very fresh bottles.

This is now the part where we get into the food. I had a burger, but that is not important what is are the beers I had with lunch. They were all just tasters but it got me another 1001 Beers check in and some brewhouse specific releases. Big Day IPA (made for an employees special day), Side Car Amber Ale (damn good. What an amber should be.), Brown Ale (again, very good.), Ovila Quad (my love for this beer is so amazing, you have no idea), and the 1001 Beers, Beer, Bigfoot 2012.

Beer Number 10: BigFoot. On my first sips of this I got a dark hop bitterness, mellowed out by a bit of citrus. I think I picked out some raisins, but it ended kind of sweet. This beer was pretty boozy but that was to be expected, even in a 2oz? pour. I was expecting a bit more of the hops to present themselves. They were there a bit in the beginning, but from past experience (maybe it was not as fresh as I thought it would be for a 2012), I just thought I would see more. Especially after the whole Celebration Ale deal. But yeah. I had a great time here and I cannot wait to visit the new brewery and come back to the old.

Prost!

991 Bottles Of Beers To Go!

1001 Beers: Sierra Nevada… AGAIN!

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