Sierra Nevada

Way back in 2004 I was on a road trip in California and made a point of spending a night in Chico so I could visit Sierra Nevada Brewing. I did the tour, bought a glass, then had dinner at their restaurant, where I ordered their taster tray. I didn’t realize just how many beers they had on tap until the tray showed up with 18 little sampler glasses. It was a bit of a surprise, and I stayed there quite a while in order to make my way through them all. This was well before I started scribbling down my tasting notes, unfortunately, and for some reason I didn’t take any photos of the brewery even though it was an impressive place. (I visited several other breweries on that road trip, as well, but didn’t take a single picture of any of them, or take notes. Ah, the naivete of youth.) So, with no picture and no notes, I just assumed I’d never do a Sierra Nevada post, until I heard in 2013 that they were building a taproom in Berkeley. That would totally satisfy my strict BreweryTreks criteria, and so I started doing the note-taking thing on their beers in anticipation of the inevitable visit, and also dug up all my old fresh hop fever tasting notes which included several Sierra Nevada fresh/wet hop beers. The Torpedo Room opened a couple weeks before I flew down to the Bay Area, conveniently enough, and I made Marcus take me there after the first two stops in San Francisco. It’s a pretty cool spot, and I’ll happily re-visit the next time I’m in the East Bay. And hopefully a more leisurely visit, because I was meeting a couple other friends somewhere else later that evening, and so my notes were pretty rushed. Oh well. My blogging procrastination then delayed me from working through my brewery backlog until Sierra Nevada released the impressively put together Beer Camp Across America (BCAA), and that’s added another 12 beers to the mix. So now you get this huge post. Enjoy!

torpedo room taster tray

Sierra Nevada taster tray at the Torpedo Room — Berkeley, CA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Electric Ray India Pale Lager – 8.5% – BCAA collaboration with Ballast Point Brewing. Citrus and floral with crisp alcohol aroma and flavor. Smooth but with some hop and alcohol sharpness, and good biscuity, caramel malt balance. Some bitterness on the finish that blends back in well.
  • Torpedo Pilsner – 5.2% – BCAA collaboration with Firestone Walker Brewing. Bit of a lemony aroma. Light and crisp, with fairly strong citrus and floral hop flavors, to a bready and somewhat bitter finish.
  • Yvan the Great – 6.3% – BCAA collaboration with Russian River Brewing. Belgian-style Blonde. Light clove aroma. Great start with fun spiciness on the tongue and clove/banana flavors, to light breadiness, and great lingering flavors. Wonderful mix.
  • Myron’s Walk – 5.3% – BCAA collaboration with Allagash Brewing. Belgian-style pale ale brewed with coriander. Fruity clove aroma. Nice mix of flavors: coriander, clove, citrus, with light underlying breadiness. Lingering flavors, especially the coriander, and some bitterness on the finish.
  • Alt Route – 6.6% – BCAA collaboration with Victory Brewing. Sweet malt and touch of citrus in the aroma. Very malt-forward, sweet with a bit of nuttiness. Underlying citrus hop edge that becomes more prominent on the finish.
  • Chico King Pale Ale – 6.5% – BCAA collaboration with 3 Floyds Brewing. Malt-forward, with caramel and a good mix of other malts. Citrus hop edge. Pretty nice balance.
  • Tater Ridge – 7% – BCAA collaboration with Asheville Brewers Alliance. Scottish Ale brewed with sweet potatoes. Big malts. Caramel, brown sugar, toast. Little bit of a zing at the end. Whatever sweet potato is in there just blends in with the malts. Easy drinking.
  • Yonder Bock – 7.7% – BCAA collaboration with Cigar City Brewing. Tropical Maibock. Smooth, easy drinking. Mostly caramel malt start to light tropical fruit hop flavor finish. Very slight alcohol edge.
  • CANfusion – 7.2% – BCAA collaboration with Oskar Blues Brewery. Rye bock. Malty, floral aroma. Malty start with light floral and citrus hops to light rye spice and decent lingering flavors.
  • Maillard’s Odyssey – 8.5% – BCAA collaboration with Bell’s Brewery. Imperial Dark Ale. Big roasty, chocolate, coffee aroma and flavor. Rich, lightly creamy, but not too thick. Long lingering flavors. Really good.
  • Double Latte – 7.6% – BCAA collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing. Coffee milk stout. Coffee, roasty aroma. Good strong coffee flavor (it’s made with cold-press Stumptown coffee), some roastiness and chocolate, and a sweet milky edge. Flavors linger on and on.
  • Kellerweiss – 4.8% – Bready, mellow light clove flavor, fairly crisp and smooth. Very drinkable.
  • French Style Saison – 8% – Little bit of funk aroma and flavor. Some sweetness. Pretty nice.
  • Christmas Jam Session Ale 2013 – 4.2% – Biscuity maltiness with herbal and spicy hops. Not watery like some other session ales.
  • Weizenbock – 7% – Light banana/clove aroma and flavors. Light caramel maltiness. Smooth.
  • Beer Camp Imperial Red Ale – 8.5% – Solid biscuit and caramel maltiness, with an alcohol edge and good amount of herbal hops to balance it out.
  • Barrel-Aged Torpedo Extra IPA – 10.3% – Floral, oaky aroma. Oaky, spicy, and floral flavors. Smooth.
  • Celebration Ale 2013 – 6.8% – Floral aroma and flavor with a good malt base.
  • Knightro – 4.6% – Very smooth. Light chocolate malt. Easy drinking.
  • Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale 2014 – Mainly herbal with light floral hop flavors. Solid caramel and biscuit malt base. Good lingering flavors.
  • Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums – 10.4% – The 2014 vintage — I didn’t take notes on the previous year’s to compare, unfortunately. Sweet, with raisin and dark fruit flavors (the plum, I guess…), and a subtle hint of alcohol. Would go great paired with a dessert.
  • Ruthless Rye – 6.6% – Fairly solid floral and herbal hop flavors, rye spice, and biscuit malt mix. Little bit of lingering bitterness. Not exceptional but solid.
  • DevESTATEtion – 6.7% – 2013 Fresh Hop Black IPA. Light floral aroma. Big roasty chocolate malt start that slowly transitions to a good hop edge on the finish. Great lingering flavors.
  • Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns – 7.5% – Funk aroma with hint of pepper. Fairly sweet but well-balanced by the saison funk. Subtle mandarin. Subtle pepper on finish that blends well with the coriander.
  • Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2012 – 6.7% – Citrus and piney aroma. Fairly strong citrus and light piney hoppiness tempered with a healthy dose of roasty caramel maltiness. Some bitterness on the finish. Very drinkable.
  • Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale 2012 – 6.7% – Made with mostly New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. Fairly heavy mix of malt and floral and citrus hop flavors. Definitely fits the “harvest” label — like autumn in a glass.
    The Rest

  • There and Back – 5.6% – BCAA collaboration with New Glarus Brewing. English-Style Bitter. Fruity aroma. Smooth, with caramel malt, light nuttiness, and a bit of bubblegum sweetness. Fruity finish.
  • Old Chico Crystal Wheat – 4.8% – Light and crisp. Bready. Pretty refreshing. Would be good after a bike ride.
  • Steady As She Gose – Light funk and light, almost bubblegum-like sweetness. Touch of floral. Light saltiness on the finish. Pretty good but I’d prefer a little more tartness.
  • Narwhal Imperial Stout 2013 – 10.2% – Dark chocolate and phenolic band-aid aroma. Big chocolate, some coffee, molasses, alcohol, and band-aid flavors. Not too thick. Would be great if not for the band-aid aspect.
  • Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2013 – 6.7% – Good balance of floral and spicy hops with fairly big caramel biscuit malt. Lingering bitterness but at least it blends back in well.
  • Estate Homegrown Fresh Hop 2012 – 6.7% – Floral and citrus aroma. Good strong floral and citrus hop flavors with some malty balance. Somewhat bitter, with a tiny touch of sweetness on the finish. Pretty good, but I liked their 2012 Hemispheres more.

Whew! Now all I need to do is set aside some time to do a tasting of all their usual year-round offerings. Maybe on my next visit to the Torpedo Room. Speaking of which, here’s a picture of its snazzy entrance.

damn the torpedo room!

Welcome to Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Room — Berkeley, CA

Next Post
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts via email.

  • BreweryTreks on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: