A PLEA FOR SIERRA NEVADA PALE ALE
Some may say I’ve lost my mind. Some may suggest I’ve gone all “get off my lawn”. Both are likely true. But I also think I’m bringing the learning tree to Portal and we should all take a seat under its sage branches. It’s a more thoughtful kind of Beermail.
I’ve probably started this Beermail 50 times in my head. I wish I was kidding. It even kept me up in the middle of the night last night because I couldn’t get my brain to turn off. So I’m very glad to finally be writing this down, no matter what version ends on up on the paper.
It’s been sort of an unusual ordeal for me because it’s important to me. And I feel like it’s a very big deal for craft beer. Short attention span is pervasive in our culture and it’s crept its way into beer. Beer can be high end, fine art. It can also be approachable, working class. But beer should be a savored moment, a shared experience. At the risk of taking this down the rabbit hole I’m going to cut that short and move on.
While searching the many emails I get from all kinds of great breweries for a pale ale to feature at Portal next, I had to sift through non-stop double dry-hopped IPAs. Triple dry-hopped IPAs (really?). Double IPAs. Pastry beers. Smoothie beers. Milkshake beers. Flash. Dazzle. Neon lights pointing “IN HERE!”. All manner of “special” beers that will be available today and not tomorrow because what that’s worth having is available tomorrow? Something inside me snapped and I nearly shouted out the answer.
Beer. Real beer. Savored Moments. Shared Experiences. And I knew what to do, let them eat cake. Also, bring in a legend. A stalwart. Bring in one of the beers that did a ton of heavy lifting so we could all have these wonderful, exciting, flashy choices we see every day on draft lists, in the bottle shop, or even at the grocery store. I needed to put my money where my mouth has been and bring in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Yes. That one. The one in the green package that’s at the gas station. At the airport. At Safeway. At Costco. Hell, it’s brewed on both coasts of this country. Say whatever you want. It is still a great beer. And it’s place in craft beer history is as important as any other beer or brewery, and it deserves some attention. Whether you’re revisiting it or having it for the first time, I encourage you to stop, have a Sierra Pale, and really drink it. And hey, if it’s your first time maybe Untappd will throw you a party!
But here’s the cool thing. By tapping into a pint of Sierra Pale you’re tapping into your fellow beer drinkers everywhere. And across time. Whaaaaaaaaattttttt?????? Shared experiences. I think of it like visiting Yosemite or the Golden Gate Bridge. Or listening to The Beatles Sgt Peppers or Dr. Dre’s Chronic. Singular greatness and an experience shared by countless. And if it’s worth it’s hype, you probably remember your first time. It probably means something each time you enjoy it because of the time spanning power of memory. And it can be a bonding commonality between you and other beer heads. Outdoor enjoyers. Audiophiles.
I love and revere this beer. (obviously) I can tell you when I had my first. My last. The first time I had it in a can. That the draft and bottle used to be slightly different recipes. I’d know that beer in the dark. And it’s something special I can share with all my beer friends, new or old.
Once one of the hoppiest beers you could find on the market, Sierra Pale’s hop clout doesn’t move the needle like it used to. But there’s more to a beer. Its flavor and balance are hard to match. Subtly sweet caramel malt coaxes resin from the Cascade hops that also delivers trademark pine and grapefruit. The clean and classic Chico yeast strain, developed at Sierra, keeps the beer clean and dry but offers just a touch of fruity esther and fresh baked bread yeastiness. A perfect beer. Timeless but also worth your time.
Thank you for putting up with a particularly preachy Beermail today. It’s been cathartic for me to write. And I’m heading for a pint of today’s inspiration the first chance I get. Then I’m going to thank my wife who enlightened me as to how much I love this beer I’ve been drinking since I was a lad. Cause it was everywhere then too.