The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is made with 2-row pale and Munich malts and Perle and Saaz hops. A crisp summer lager that has been around for more than a decade, the Sierra Nevada Summerfest also lets you know that you’re drinking a real beer. With a full flavored tang hop kick, this pilsner style lager is another classic from Sierra Nevada. With light malts and light hops and spice, the crisp big bubbles make an excellent refreshing summertime lager. The lemon and malt aftertaste are very well balanced making this one of our favorite summer beers.
GOLD MEDAL WINNER
California State Fair (European Light Lagers: 1999)
alcohol content:5.0% by volume
malts:Two-row Pale & Munich
beginning gravity:12.2 Plato
ending gravity:2.8 Plato
bittering hops:Perle & Saaz
The Sierra Nevada Story:
In 1979, Ken Grossman began building a small brewery in the town of Chico, California. His goal: to brew exceptional ales and lagers. Today, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. And the beer? Critics proclaim it “Among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”
Ken’s passion for brewing began when a friend showed him the basics of home brewing. Using homemade equipment, Ken began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own, and soon became a proficient home brewer.In 1976, after studying chemistry and physics at Butte Community College and California State University at Chico, Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop. There, he supplied Chico’s home-brewing community with equipment, materials, and advice, but dreamed of opening his own brewery.
Two years later, it was time to make the dream a reality. Ken and co-founder Paul Camusi cobbled a brewery together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and equipment salvaged from defunct breweries. Though the equipment was secondhand, they created a first-rate microbrewery. The ingredients were premium, including the copious quantities of hops that would become the brewery’s trademark. An avid backpacker, Ken named the new company for his favorite hiking grounds—the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Finally, on November 15, 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.Word spread quickly, and over the next decade the demand for Sierra Nevada brews soon exceeded the brewery’s modest brewing capacity. Despite nearly constant additions to the brewery, Ken was soon back at the drawing board, planning a new brewery. In 1989, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. moved to its current site.
Ken traveled to Germany and brought back a traditional 100-barrel copper brew house, which became the heart of the new brewery. This met demand for a while, but the brewery soon needed to expand again. In 1997, Ken commissioned the original coppersmiths to match new kettles to the originals, bringing the brewery’s total capacity to almost eight hundred thousand barrels per year.Building the new brewery afforded Sierra Nevada the opportunity to create two stunning showcases, both featuring exceptional dining, live music, and its award-winning beers. The elegant Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant has become a destination in its own right. With mouthwatering lunch and dinner menus, an impressive dining room, and a large outdoor dining patio, it offers distinctive, contemporary cuisine as well as an opportunity to sample the brewery’s entire line of premium ales and lagers, including hard-to-find specialty drafts. The 350-seat Big Room—a beautifully designed live music and multi-purpose room—was constructed on the west end of the brewery to feature live music events for all ages and is a perfect facility for weddings, reunions, and business conferences.To this day, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. remains true to its roots. Ken is still personally involved in every aspect of brewery operation. Most importantly, the Sierra Nevada commitment to quality remains the same. Premium ingredients and time-honored brewing techniques make Sierra Nevada ales and lagers truly exceptional beers.
Water Supply Issues Create a Light, Easy, Drinkable Mexican Style
By Matt Goldstein & Tim Rodgers
Now, Mexican beers are at a disadvantage because of the water supply situation. One must remember to compare apples to apples when analyzing their brews. Mexico tends to be a warm, arid climate with spicy/salty cuisine. Therefore, the beers that would make the most sense would be your lighter lagers. All of which Mexico produces. Bohemia was by far the best beer we sampled. It could compare with a solid American IPA and tasted a lot like Flying Fish.
1. Bohemia, surprisingly crisp/clean with an unexpected subtle yet distinct hoppiness
2. Negra Modela, always consistently smooth with a nice malty finish
3. Dos Equis LagerEspecial, crisp flavors, solid lager
4. Carta Blanca, smooth, light, solid
5. Corona, always good, always refreshing
6. Cristal, actually from Peru, but fits in well with the Mexican style
7. Corona Light, great light beer but light on flavor
9 Tecate, just OK, light and smooth but far from great
9. Sol, awful, almost undrinkable, bad aftertaste
10. Modela Especial, the six-pack we bought was skunked, we know Modelo is a good beer but it will have to wait a few months for another chance to be reviewed.
Bohemia Pilsner is this year’s Mexican Category champion! It was a hot day in Chester down at the new MLS stadium PPL Park. We decided to conduct this categories beer tasting tailgating the Philadelphia Union soccer game. The dirt parking lot in July made it actually feel like a Mexican desert. Pure genius! To keep the theme going, we got burritos, chips, salsa and guacamole to cleanse our palates between each beer. We had Pork, Chicken and Beef burritos made with black beans, corn and rice.
Now, Mexican beers are at a disadvantage because of the water supply situation. One must remember to compare apples to apples when analyzing their brews. Mexico tends to be a warm, arid climate with spicy/salty cuisine. Therefore, the beers that would make the most sense would be your lighter lagers. All of which Mexico produces. Bohemia was by far the best beer we sampled. It could compare with a solid American IPA and tasted a lot like Flying Fish. I think the most surprising beer was Carta Blanca. Based on our preconceived notions of the beer, I thought it would be mere swill. However, it would be up at the top of my choices if we were scarfing down tortilla chips and tacos on the roadside in Puerta Vallarta. Dos Equis Lager was also very solid. Again, based on the most the interesting man in the world advertising campaign, perhaps Dos Equis would bring more style than substance, but it was an enjoyable beer. The most disappointing beer was Sol. It basically tasted awful to everybody. Now, we’ve had Sol before and liked it, but this was just not its day. Tecate, we expected to be at the bottom, but it was a toss-up between Sol and Tecate for the worst of the day. Bohemia is officially the first beer to receive an automatic bid to the first annual Whiskey Goldmine March madness 64 beer tournament. Let the countdown begin!
Hoppin Frog Barrel Aged Borris Oatmeal Imperial Stout the Show!
By Matt Goldstein & Kevin Hussey
The 2011 Beats, Brews & BBQ beer fest at the World Café Live in Philadelphia had over 35 brewers with more than 100 beers and tickets sold out months before the beer fest opened its doors. With more than 100 beers trying to stake their claim at the 2011 beerfest, our panel of tasters provides you with the top 10 craft beers that crushed the competition. Speaking of crushed, Hoppin Frogs Borris the Crusher stole the show!
Made from the 2008 Gold Medalist at the GABF, Borris the Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout, the barrel aged version is a masterpiece in cask matured stouts. Full bodied, robust, roasted and smoky, with notes of oak and vanilla, the Barrel Aged Borris is complex and full of character. 9.4% ABV, 60 IBU. Hoppin Frog Brewing. Akron, Ohio.
2. Weyerbacher Heresy Imperial Stout:
The Heresy is an old heathen oak aged imperial stout. Aged in bourbon oak barrels with a roasted flavor, the Heresy has notes of bourbon, oak, corn, vanilla, and coffee. 8.5% ABV, Weyerbacher Brewing. Easton, PA.
3. Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale:
The Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, also known as an old ale, is brewed with 7 different types of malts. Ruby Red in color, with strong notes of hops, hints of smoke and peat, the Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale is a classic. 8.5% ABV, Founders Brewing Co. Michigan.
4. Victory Old Horizontal Barley Wine:
The Victory Barley Wine is rich in hops with a sweet flavor that balances very well. With imported 2 row hops malts and American whole flower hops, the Old Horizontal is perfectly balanced. 10.5% ABV. Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA.
5. Six Points Sehr Crisp Pilsner
With all the IPA’s and Imperial Stouts at every beer fest, the Six Point Sehr Crisp Pilsner was a refreshing session beer and strongly lived up to the Pilsner style. According to Beer Advocate, the Sehr Crisp Pilsner is a cross between a German Pilsner and a Bohemian Pilsner and blended with German hops. 5.4% ABV. Six Point Brewing Company. Brooklyn, NY.
6. Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye:
The Hop Rod Rye has been a staple of Bear Republic for years and years, winning three separate gold medals in craft beer competitions. The Racer 5 and Rocket Red are already legendary Bear Republic Brews, but the Hop Rod Rye is just as good. The Hop Rod Rye is an IPA with a heavy rye malt base, but also a spicy kick and bitterness that add a beautiful complexity to the hops. 8.0% ABV, 80 IBUs. Bear Republic Brewing Co. Healdsburg, CA.
7. Yards Chocolate Love Stout:
The Yards Chocolate Love Stout is a sweet and sultry full bodied chocolate stout with a beautiful roasted malt flavor. The Chocolate Love is brewed with oysters in a kettle. Oysters? WTF! 5.5% ABV. Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA.
Some of our tasters at the beer fest thought the Dorris Destroyer might have been better than Barrel Aged Borris and for good reason. This Double Imperial Oatmeal Stout is similar to the Borris but a little more tangy. Dry hopped and wort hopped, Dorris the Destroyer will smack you right in your mouth. 10.5% ABV, 70 IBUs. Hoppin Frog Brewing Co. Akron, Ohio.
9. Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 2 Baltic Porter:
The Left Hand Fade to Black Volume 2 is a flat lout smoke monster. Made with 2-Row malts, Smoked Munich (smoked with Hackberry) malts, Malted Rye, Cara Aroma, Chocolate, Carafa, Special II, Carafa III and Magnum and Northern Brewer hops, the medium to full bodied porter stood out from all other porters at the beer fest.
10. Dogfish Head Red & White Belgian Style Wit Ale:
The Red & White Belgian Style Wit Ale is an easy drinking Belgian ale “brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice.” WOW! Dogfish Head will try anything. The Red & White Ale is then aged in Oak tanks. An Oak tank? That’s first we’ve heard of that. It certainly sounds better than being aged in a metal vat, but can’t possibly provide the character of an oak barrel. Either way, the Red & White is a fabulous Belgian Wit. 10.0% ABV, 35 IBU. Dogfish Head Brewing. Rehobeth Beach, DE.
By Pat Smith, Jeremy Thomson, Tim Rodgers, Paul Reiter & Matt Goldstein
Most people think to describe Macro brews as only Miller, Coors and Budweiser, but there are some large scale macro breweries out there brewing damn good beer, not just the American macro swill we’re all used to. The Whiskey Goldmine has compiled a list of beers and major breweries that simply make a phenomenal beverage and are sold on a massive scale. You’d be surprised at how many beers Sierra Nevada actually sells. We were surprised too.
1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale:
5.6% ABV, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico, CA. The Sierra Nevada Company is the 5th largest brewery in the United States and by 2005; Sierra Nevada was in excess of $100 million in sales. The Pale Ale is the clear #1 here; it’s not even worth arguing. The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is simply a perfect beer.
2. Newcastle Brown Ale:
4.7% ABV, Scottish & Newcastle UK. Newcastle Brown Ale is the #1 selling bottled beer in the UK and one of the best selling beers in Europe.
3. Sam Adams Boston Lager.
4.75% ABV. Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA. The Boston Beer Company is one of the largest breweries in the United States and for good reason. These guys just make great beer. Perhaps Sam Adams is being a little overshadowed by the recent craft beer fanaticism, but these guys have been doing great craft beer on a large scale for 25 years. Six weeks after its release in 1985, the Boston Lager was awarded the “Best Beer in America.”
4. Bitburger Premium Pilsner.
4.8% ABV, Bitburger Brewery, Germany. Bitburger is the #2 selling beer in Germany and one of the best cases of beer you can buy for under $20.00.
5. Yuengling Lager.
4.7% ABV, Yuengling Brewery, Pottsville, PA United States. The Yuengling Brewery is the 4th largest brewery in the United States and the Lager is a classic staple beer on the East Coast. Yuengling Lager Light might also be the best light beer in the world; without a doubt it’s Top 5.
6. Pilsner Urquell.
4.4% ABV. Plensky Prazdroj, Czech Republic. Perhaps the most famous Pilsner in the world, Pilsner Urquell is the #2 selling beer in the Czech Republic.
7. Warsteiner Premium Pilsner.
4.8% ABV. Warsteiner Brewery, Germany. Warsteiner is the #3 selling beer in Germany but has a huge market overseas. This is a great Pilsner. It also has one of the coolest labels in all of beer. You know you like it. Don’t kid yourself.
8. Stella Artois.
5.5% ABV. Stella Artois Brewing, Belgium. Stella Artois is the best selling Belgian beer outside of Belgium. Stella is a solid beer but tends to skunk easily.
9. Amstel Light.
3.5% ABV. Amstel Brewery, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Amstel Light is one of the best light beers in the world and the #1 imported light beer in the United States.
10. Dos Equis Lager.
4.5% ABV, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, Monterey Mexico. We never thought we would put Dos Equis above Corona but last week, we tried a Dos Equis and a Corona with what might have been the greatest fajita ever, and the Dos Equis emerged as the ideal beer with Mexican cuisine. The Dos Equis is slightly thicker and slightly sweeter than Corona and it doesn’t need a god damn lemon. Dos Equis is the #3 selling beer in Mexico.
11. Corona Extra.
4.6% ABV. Grupo Modello, Mexico City, Mexico. I can already feel the craft beer geeks cringing as their reading this but who cares? Corona is a refreshing beer and perfect or the summertime. Corona is also the #1 selling imported beer in America.
12. Guinness Stout.
6.0%. Guinness Brewery, Dublin, Ireland. Guinness is the #2 beer in Ireland and Irelands #1 beer export. Guinness sells 2 billion pints a year. Guinness is the #1 selling stout in the world. If you like Guinness, try the Victory Donnybrook. They’re very similar but the Donnybrook has a bit more flavor and a bit more bite.
13. Heineken Lager.
5.0% ABV. Heineken Brewery, Netherlands. Heineken is the #2 selling imported beer in America and the 7th best selling beer in the world. It does skunk too easy though, but is still very refreshing.
14. Becks German Pilsner.
5.0% ABV. Becks Brewery, Bremen, Germany. Becks sells over 720 million liters a year. That’s not peanuts.
15. Red Stripe Jamaican Lager.
4.7% ABV, Desnoes & Geddes Brewing, Kingston Jamaica. Red Stripe is a very refreshing beer, especially when you’re watching the sunset in Montego Bay or dining on a cliff in Negril. However, after 8 days and nights at a Jamaican all inclusive with nothing other than Red Stripe, it gets a little tired. Red Stripe has over $8 billion in sales annually.
16. Carlsberg Pilsner.
5.0% ABV. Carlsberg, Denmark. Carlsberg dominates the Denmark beer market with 95% of total beer sales. That’s ridiculous.
Source: The Daily Bugle, the New York Times, the Guardian, Beerinfo.com, Faq.org & Beeradvocate.com
The annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver Colorado had over 3500 entries this year and was completely sold out 5 weeks in advance. The GABF is a 3 day event held by the Brewers Association with over 100 beer judges and 500 breweries. The 2010 GABF went from Thursday the 16th through Saturday the 18th. The original GABF in 1982 only had 22 breweries.
Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Blue Moon Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Dr. David Ryder
Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Crosby & Baker Ltd.
Utah Brewers Cooperative, Salt Lake City, UT
Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Microstar Keg Management
Mad River Brewing Company, Blue Lake, CA
Mad River Brewing Company
Brewpub Group and Brewpub Group Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Country Malt Group
TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Brea, CA
Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Sponsored by Brewers Supply Group
Pizza Port Carlsbad, Carlsbad, CA
Pizza Port Brew Guys
Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
2010 Pilsner Champion: Voodoo’s Pilzilla Wins Blind Pilsner Taste Test
By Matt Goldstein & Tim Rodgers
6.7% ABV, Voodoo Brewing Company, Meadville PA. Pilzilla was hands down the best pilsner of this contest and it wasn’t close. Pilzilla has excellent flavor, a beautiful cloudy color, and subtle spiciness. It’s also very light and refreshing. Pilzilla is the perfect pilsner.
2. Prima Pils:
5.3%, Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA. The Victory Prima Pils also preformed very well at the blind Pilsner trial. The unanimous #2 is a little dry, has light hops, citrus, a hint of bitterness, a nice cloudy color and a great flavor.
3. Stoudt’s Pils:
5.3%, Stoudt’s Brewing Company, Adamstown, PA. Stoudt’s Pils had a little hops, a little coriander and a beautiful flavor. This is a flat out great Pilsner!
4. Pikeland Pils:
4.9%, Slyfox Brewing Company, Phoenixville, PA. The Slyfox Pikeland Pils is a sweet Pilsner that has a hint of honey, but is has hops like a pale ale. The Pikeland Pils is also very crisp and smooth.
5. Troegs Sunshine Pils:
5.3%, Troegs Brewing Company, Harrisburg, PA. The Sunshine Pils is floral, and slightly bitter with a light hint of citrus. The Sunshine Pils has great flavor and a perfect bite. This is a great beer!
6. Paulaner Premium Pils:
4.9%, Paulaner Salvator Thomasbraeu, Germany. Paulaner Premium Pils was the only German beer that really stood out. The Paulaner Pils had subtle citrus and other hints of fruit and flowers, but thick, crisp and smooth with an excellent golden color.
7. Bischoff Premium Pils:
4.7%, Privatbrauerei Bischoff, Germany. The Bischoff Premium Pils was a little cloudy, had great head, and was very smooth. This Pilsner is a damn good beer.
8. Pilsner Urquell:
4.4%, Plensky Prazdroj, Czech Republic. Perhaps the most famous Pilsner in the world, the Pilsner Urquell was robust, malty, dark in color with hints of chocolate. The Pilsner Urquell may be at #8 on our list but it really stood on it’s with a unique European style.
9. Jever Pilsner
4.9%, Friesisches Brauhaus zu Jever, Germany.
10. Wolters Pilsner Premium
4.9%, Hofbrauhaus Wolters, Germany.
11. Presidente Pilsner
7.0%, Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, Dominican Republic.
12. Radeberger Pilsner
4.8%, Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei, Germany.
The blind Pilsner taste test was put together as follows: We went to 3 different take outs in 3 different parts of the city (can you guess which city?) and bought every bottle of beer that said Pilsner on the label. Yes, what we selected was heavily weighted to Pennsylvania and Germany which was to be expected, but the results speak for themselves as the taste test was completely blind. Each bottle of beer was put into a brown bag in a separate room and then poured into a glass by our beer wench. Yup, we have a beer wench on the payroll. Then, the Pilsner glasses were brought out one at time and we sipped back and fourth between maybe 2 or 3 beers. We ate brick oven pizza with prosciutto and basil, and all watched the Tyson-Tupac documentary, and took stringent notes on the beer.
The Pilzilla was the clear number 1 but the Prima Pils also stood out from the rest of the pack. The Stoudt’s Pils, Slyfox Pikeland Pils and Troegs Sunshine Pils could have probably been in any order from 3 to 5, but there is no doubt that the Pennsylvania Pilsners completely destroyed Germany. It wasn’t even close!
By Jeremy Thompson, Don Corino, Pat Smith, Tim Rodgers, Paul Reiter and Matt Goldstein
1. Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MI:
The Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout is a shoe in to be our #1 overall beer on our next Top 100 beer list. The seasonal Breakfast Stout was already on our top 10 list and the Founders Porter was our Philadelphia Beer Week Champion. Have you ever tasted the Centennial IPA or the Curmudgeon? Please. Founders Brewing Company is the #1 Brewery in the world!
2. Bell’s Brewing Inc, Kalamazoo, MI:
It’s hard putting Bell’s at #2 on this list because these guys have taken the art of beer making to perfection. From the Bell’s Expedition Stout to the Consecrator Dopplebock and the Hopslam are 3 of the best beers in the world hands down. Add the Kalamazoo Stout, Oberon Ale and the Two Hearted Ale and you have a magnum opus in beer making.
3. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, San Diego, CA:
The Ballast Point Sculpin IPA is largely considered to be the best India Pale Ale in the world. The Sculpin also won a gold medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. The Calico Amber Ale is made like an English ESB but this American brew is also a gold medal winner. The Big Eye IPA and the Victory at Sea Imperial Vanilla Coffee Porter are entirely world class.
4. Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, CA:
Stone’s Ruination IPA, Imperial Russian Stout, Smoked Porter and Arrogant Bastard Ale are staples of the craft beer world, while their Anniversary Ale is one of the highest rated beers ever.
5. Port/Lost Abbey Brewing Company, San Marcos, CA:
The Lost Abbey Avant-Garde, Devotion and Yellow Bus along with the Port Old Viscosity, High Tide IPA and Santa’s Little Helper Stout put the Port/Lost Abbey Brewing at #5. Throw in the Hop 15 and Port/Lost Abbey competes with any brewery in the world.
6. Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA:
Victory’s Hopdevil, Prima Pils, and Golden Monkey are almost mainstream craft beers at this point but the Storm King Imperial Stout, Hopwallop, Baltic Thunder Porter, and V-12 are all world class while the Saison du Buff might be the best Saison in the world.
7. Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Milton, DE:
The 60 Minute, 90 Minute and 120 Minute IPA’s are some of the best IPA’s being brewed today. At the same time, the Old School Barley Wine and the Bitches Brew are some of the best beers in their class. Dogfish also collaborated with Victory on the Saison du Buff.
Established in 1829, Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery, and they make damn good beer. A few weeks ago I heard someone mention it as a craft beer. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that because I grew up on the stuff, but for about $18 a case it’s an excellent buy. Yuengling Lager has great color, flavor and bite. I was even asked to mail two cases out to a friend of mine in AZ because he couldn’t seem to find it anywhere in Phoenix. People crave this stuff!
2. Bitburger, Germany:
I’ve had Yuengling so many times that if I was in the store right now I’d probably grab Bitburger instead. It’s full bodied, light, a little dry and a little hoppy, but very refreshing. I had a few this weekend and I can’t believe this German import sells for about $18. It’s a flat out steel!
Original Premium Pilsner/Lager, Chippewa Falls, WI. About $20 a case.
4. Shiner Bock
Shiner, TX. You can get a case of cans for about $20.
5. Lionshead, Wilkes-Barre, PA.
It’s a flat out good beer and you can get a case of bottles for $15. In the college days it might have been $11.