California has its issues. A high state income tax, massive budget deficits, unfunded pension liabilities—we could go on and on.
But today we celebrate the Golden State, and specifically the Harvest Single Hop IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, Calif. The Harvest series showcases five different beers of alternate hopping methods. This is the first.
The beer reminded me of Christmas Eve, when my mother prepares a grand feast for our extended family. San Francisco, where I grew up, has only one true climate attribute: fog. It doesn’t snow, nor does it rain very often.
During wintertime, the temperature drops to 40 degrees at the coldest. Obviously we’re spoiled. For this dinner, we purchase Dungeness crab. These large, orange shellfish are not as sweet as lobster, and they require a bit more work to grab the meat.
But if you squeeze some lemon on those crabs before cracking into them with some San Francisco sourdough on the side, prepare for a mouth-watering dinner of satisfying fulfillment.
Now, one usually would pair a white wine with crab; we drink California chardonnay, which imparts a buttery texture to the inside of your mouth.
The Harvest Single Hop IPA manages to encapsulate this experience, transport it to the pines of Tahoe National Forest (nearby Chico), and fly it back to San Francisco overnight. It has scents of pine, citrus, malt, and mandarin, yet doesn’t overload the taste buds.
Made with a brand new type of hop from the Yakima Valley in Washington State, the Single Hop IPA is brewed with whole cone hops. That unified clarity reflects itself throughout the taste, as well as in the aroma.
As I sipped from a pint glass, the lightness on the tongue reminded me of sparkling lemonade, bringing me back to that lemon slice on the side of the plate. It gradually left my mouth coated with a fatty, buttery texture, akin to Chardonnay. Finally that poppy, resinous, West Coast bitterness floats onto the back of your tongue. I would drink this excellent brew year-round.
Sierra Nevada Harvest Single Hop IPA
Color: Deep gold, clean, and clear
Aroma: Hoppy, resinous, lemon zest, piney, subtle hint of mandarin skin
Mouthfeel: Poppy, carbonated, similar to sparkling drink such as Schweppes Bitter Lemon; coats middle part of tongue and roof of mouth first
Taste: Similar to a stronger Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, very clean and light, sparkling lemonade, progresses into traditional hoppy bitterness on back of tongue and throat. However, as one drinks more, the bitterness disappears, turning it into a punchy pale ale.