For tonight’s post-
tsnownami snowmageddon snowpocalypse -blizzard update,* I thought I’d pull one of the fun beers out of the fridge, happy that 1) it isn’t still snowing, 2) my car seems so far in good working order, and 3) we still have functional heat and electricity. Given the low tonight is in the -10 area of the Fahrenheit scale, that last one deserves particular celebration.
Name: 30th Anniversary – Grand Cru (which I keep mistyping as cry). There were actually four 30th Anniversary beers released from what I can tell, so if we go by wine standards, the Grand Cru label means I managed to snag the best of the bunch.
Origin: Sierra Nevada, Chico, CA
Style: American Strong Ale
IBU: couldn’t find it, but it was WAY up there.
I drank this: at home, with a cat in the background. The cat, who was refusing to play along and look at me, is Jamie.
The 30th Anniversary Grand Cru
I have seriously typed cry every time is a blend of Oak-Aged Bigfoot (Sierra Nevada’s Barleywine), Celebration Ale (the Winter Seasonal Fresh Hop IPA), and “fresh” Pale Ale (i.e., the Sierra Nevada with the bright green label that y’all had better already know by now). They took this lovely mishmash, dry hopped the bejeezus out of it, and then bottled it. The result (once we managed to get the cork out of the bottle, which was a lengthy feat involving gnashing of teeth, twisting of bottle, breakage of cork and eventual deployment of corkscrew) looks like this:
You can see the wire cork cage peeking out behind the glass if you can avert your eyes from the pretty copper color of the beer. Corked beer bottles: when you care enough to snazz it up like wine.
Anyway, the actual beer is flipping fantastic and easily one of the top 10 I’ve had in years. It starts with the awesomesauce fresh, resinous hop scent of the Celebration Ale, with a touch of caramelly-sweet malts in the back. The head that you can see on the beer is lovely – thick, creamy, and around for the whole glass.
Flavor-wise, it was roughly what I was expecting when I saw the combination of beers they listed. It’s primarily a hophead’s dream beer, yet it also has a strong malty backbone. To start with the malts (before I go into hophead spasm): the malts are primarily caramelly and sweet and toasty, held up by oak-aging (read: more toast) and the high alcohol volume – the combination works to create what is easily the smoothest, creamiest mouthfeel I’ve ever experienced in a beer this hoppy. This is one of those beers that is the mouthfeel equivalent of drinking heavy cream: I wouldn’t want it in July, but if it’s going to be minus supercold degrees out tonight, I’m all over it.
While I tend to go more strongly for the bright, clear, citrus-style hops most of the time, this beer isn’t in that kind of mood – it’s a resin-bomb. It’s the sort of resin that screams “wet hop” – rich and piney and bitter, almost mouth-coating. And STRONG. *insert happy gurgle noise here*
Honestly, what happened, and why I’m so unabashedly in love with this beer over so many others that I’ve had, is that it confused the hell out of my tastebuds. What I mean by this is that if there’s any truth to the idea that tastebuds are “mapped” to emphasize certain tastes in certain areas (i.e., the tip of the tongue tastes sweet, the back bitter, the sides sour and salty), this beer redrew that map. I could map out specific areas of my tongue that were tasting specific sorts of flavors, but it wasn’t the normal map: the alcohol/caramel sweetness came on the sides of my tongue, the dry toast flavor at the back, the hoppy bitterness more at the tip. So, like, everything was backwards. It’s *fascinating* (<—– with jazzhands).
The closest comparison I can come up with for those of you in the 30th Anniversary-deprived sectors of life is a Stone Double Bastard, but with a heavy cream mouthfeel. This was excellent, and I’m glad I got to enjoy it.
Keep up the awesome brewing, Sierra Nevada!
*It appalls me that “tsnownami” and “snowmageddon” were both accepted without question by the spellchecker on this program. I thought I’d made up that particular spelling of tsnownami just then (my brilliant addition being the t at the beginning of the word – I hadn’t seen that yet). Poo.
Oddly, despite the program’s acceptance of the words I just mentioned, even this program won’t accept the word “snowpocalypse.” I think it must be over it too. So seriously, by next winter we really need some new bad snow puns to work with.