Name: Sierra Nevada

Location: Chico, California

Type: Production brewery

Available in DC Market: Yes

What you need to know: Sierra Nevada is one of the most influential breweries in America. One of the forerunners of the craft beer movement, Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi were homebrewers who wanted something more than what the market was offering them. Sierra Nevada continues to innovate, despite being the second largest craft brewery in America, by producing beers like Hoptimum, the Ovila Abbey Dubbel, and the Sierra Nevada Estate Ales. Sierra Nevada is widely recognized as a premier green business. They recently announced plans to open a brewery in North Carolina in order to make sure their East Coast fans get the fresh beer they deserve.


Beer #1: Ovila Belgian Golden

Notes: The story behind this beer is really cool, but to explain all of the awesomeness would take more space than I have here. So check out this website on the Ovila series, which is being led by the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California. The Belgian Golden isn’t actually going to be released until June 2012, so attendees at SAVOR will be some of the first to taste it.  From the brewery: “Belgian-inspired golden ales are often noted for their devilish personalities, but there is nothing unwholesome about this complex and nuanced ale.  It is brilliant golden in color, and layered with notes of summery apple and pear-like fruit and peppery spice from the use of a traditional Belgian yeast strain.  At first glance, this golden ale may seem delicate, but as it warms, its full flavor and dry, drinkable character come into focus.”

Beer Advocate: N/A
Rate Beer: N/A

Beer #2: Hoptimum

Notes: Sierra Nevada calls this beer a “hurricane of flavor” and, oh damn, are they ever correct.  This double IPA comes in at a rip-roaring 10.4%ABV with a hop collection to back it up.  This year’s version includes whole-cone Magnum, Simcoe, Citra, Chinook hops, along with a proprietary varietal that Sierra Nevada hasn’t named publicly.  The malt bill provides a mouth-coating, almost butterscotch-like base for the bitterness blast provided by the intense hoppiness.  Once you enter this realm of “imperialness,” it’s extremely tough to put a beer into any semblance of balance – Hoptimum comes pretty close and, for that reason, is one of the more sought after DIPAs.  If you’ve never had this limited release beer, stop by later in the night and ask for a small pour of it, or you’ll be carted home with a numb tongue.

Beer Advocate: 91 (872 reviews)
Rate Beer: 99 overall, 98 style

Summary: They’re an industry legend. What else is there to say? They’re bringing two extremely interesting beers that are indicative of the envelope that they continue to push. We owe a lot of what we have today to Ken and Paul, and I couldn’t be happier that they’re at SAVOR. Both of these will be solid beers with great back stories, which is, to me, everything craft beer is about.

This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2012 SAVOR participants.

Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.