Monday, October 6, 2008

Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Ale

Bringing fresh-hop beer into Oregon is like carrying brown ale to Newcastle. With something like 41 wet-hop beers on offer around the state this year, there's no shortage of homegrown product. Nevertheless, Sierra Nevada works a couple of interesting angles: an off-season Harvest Ale with hops from New Zealand, and the Chico Estate Harvest Ale, with hops grown on the brewery premises.

Sierra Nevada's fresh-hop ales haven't impressed me yet, though the Chico Estate is the best so far. It's a fairly malty pale ale, with a long, pleasant bitterness. It has a faint green hop aroma -- which I find to be totally missing in SN's other two Harvest variants -- but not enough to convince a spoiled Portlander. And it's not just a bottled vs. draft issue -- bottles of Deschutes' Hop Trip get the flavor right, as do bottles of Hale's Harvest Ale. I'm not sure why they're not able to capture it in Chico.

Pity. I eagerly awaited the arrival of Chico Estate when I heard it would be bottled this year. I had gotten a taste of last years' at the Portland Holiday Ale Festival (they called it 20th Street Ale at the time), and found it better than the ordinary Sierra Nevada Harvest. I got even more excited when I read a review last week that said this year's bottled version tasted "green" -- hey, that's how I describe these things. But it's not how I'd describe Chico Estate. I think I'll stick to Oregon beers -- and that tasty Hale's -- for the rest of fresh-hop season.

5 comments:

  1. i just got back from the GABF this weekend and heard about Sierra Nevada doing a vertical tasting of their Celebration Ale here in PDX. Any word on when and where?

    Karen

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  2. Mr. Foyston wrote last year about one at Woodstock Wine and Deli. Maybe they're doing it again?

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  3. Damn, I'm going to have to get up there in the fall sometime. I just had a bottle of the Sierra Nevada Harvest and thought it was sublime; if Oregon's are better, that has my mouth watering just thinking about it.

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  4. Lee, the last couple of years they have done a set of 3 Fresh Hop festivals around the state on Saturdays in October. So your best bet would be to come out for one of those.

    And yes, I can think of 10 Oregon fresh hop beers that blow SN Harvest away.

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  5. Karen: I just read in Beer Northwest that Woodstock Wine and Deli will indeed have a Celebration vertical, on Nov. 1, 2008. Seven years' worth!

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