Tasting Notes: Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada & Weihenstephan

SNOFest2018PourThis year’s Oktoberfest celebration in Munich may have already come to a close, but we are doing our best to keep the party going by turning the focus of this week’s Tasting Notes to Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) and Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany).

Back in 2015, Sierra Nevada initiated a new approach to its seasonally released Oktoberfest offering by having its brewers explore the style’s various traditions through collaborations with some of the most respected breweries in Germany (2015 – Brauhaus Riegele; 2016 – Mahrs Bräu; 2017 –  Brauhaus Miltenberger).  For the 2018 release, Sierra Nevada teamed up with the world’s oldest brewery, Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, to create an “American take on the classic German Oktoberfest.”  What they came up with is a “crisp, clean, and drinkable crowd-pleaser” featuring a “malt backbone . . . balanced by subtle hop character.” Oktoberfest (2018) comes in at 6% ABV and 20 IBUs.

Although the 2018 run of Oktoberfest may be nearing its end, it will most assuredly still be pouring at the countless Oktoberfest celebrations that have yet to take place in the U.S. (this includes the one scheduled for October 13 at Sierra Nevada’s Mills River, North Carolina location).  You can also expect to find this Seasonal Release to be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution area.

Alright, that’s about enough with the particulars and background data.  It is definitely time to for us to lift some steins, destroy some pretzels and brats, and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan

Appearance: This Festbier is somewhere between amber and copper in color and is topped with right at a finger of wispy off-white foam.  When held to direct light, the color intensifies to become more of a rich golden to light copper.  The beer is perfectly clear, displaying the numerous streams of carbonation casually going about their business within.  Head retention is strong, slowly falling to a nearly complete top cap that leaves sporadic streaks of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma: The aromatics lead with comforting notes of bready malt, a touch of honey, and toasty grains.  A reserved and well-behaved mix of spicy, earthy and grassy hops then saunters in to lend some support and balance.  The aromas are beautifully simple and exactly what one might expect to get when putting his/her nose into a stein filled with Märzen.

Taste: Almost mirroring the nose, the flavor profile opens with a pronounced, yet somehow still mild malt character filled with bready notes, light caramel, a dollop of honey, and sweetly toasted cereal grains.  These malts come across as mild because they are expertly balanced by an incredibly nuanced hop presence featuring floral, spicy, grassy and herbal tones.  Incredibly clean and well-integrated, the lager yeast makes its presence known by pretty much not making its presence known (in other words, there are no off flavors or fruity notes).

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a slightly softer carbonation level than expected, this Festbier is easy-drinking but is comfortable taking its time when it comes to drying out.  The level of balance here is damn near perfection, riding that line between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness with ease.  Leaving behind no trace of warmth/heat, the ABV feels much lighter than 6% and further adds to this beer’s overall drinkability. The aftertaste is just a slight amount of earthiness and bready malt.

Final Thoughts: When it comes to making Oktoberfests/Märzens, the goal is to end up with a malt-driven lager that has a level of drinkability suitable for long-haul-level sessions of consumption.  The flavors and aromatics should be malt forward, but they must not be overly sweet or cloying.  As far as the hops go, they should act as more of a delicate accompaniment that equips the beer with balance and that earthy, floral character that just makes you think of autumn.  If all of that falls into place properly, you are left with a beer that can be enjoyed stein after stein during the hours/days you spend celebrating Oktoberfest.

This Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan exemplifies all the characteristics mentioned in the above paragraph.  It ticks each and every box an Oktoberfest/Märzen should, making it exactly what you would expect to get from two breweries of this caliber.  It is a spot-on representation of the style, and exceptional is a word that just barely scratches the surface when it comes to describing this beer.  Oktoberfest (2018) is absolutely something you need to get your hands on before its limited run is completed, so be sure to make that happen before it is too late.  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Braupakt from Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada

braupaktpourThis installment of Tasting Notes has us closing out the week with an in-depth look at Braupakt, the highly-anticipated collaboration beer from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

When Weihenstephan – the World’s Oldest Brewery – and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – one of America’s pioneering craft brewers – come together to work on a collaboration project, it kind of goes without saying that the beer community is going to take notice.  The resulting beer that everyone is talking about is Braupakt (literally translates to mean “Brewery Pact” but is also a play on “America’s ‘bro pact’ vernacular for fraternal allegiances”), a Hefeweizen that introduces a style that is rich in German tradition – Weihenstephan’s area of expertise – to a carefully selected hop bill comprised of juicy American hops – Sierra Nevada’s playground –  that can both complement and accentuate the style’s classic flavors and aromatics.  When all is said and done, Braupakt promises to be a unique take on a classic style that will effortlessly reinforce both breweries’ reputations for “establishing brewing standards for their respective styles and . . . renowned . . . contributions to contemporary brewing techniques.”

Braupakt is currently available in the US and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Edition beer available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles (suggested retail price of $10.99) at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Weihenstephan’s nationwide distribution network.

Now that we are all up to speed on the particulars behind Braupakt, let’s break out the Weizen glasses and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Braupakt from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance: Braupakt presents itself as a burnt orange in color that holds a darker amber tone at the core of the glass’s bulb.  When held to direct light, that amber core holds as vibrant orange and bright gold hues burst outward from the center.  The beer is appropriately cloudy for the style, but you can still see a dutiful carbonation presence rising up to feed the 3+ fingers of cream-colored head sitting above.  Head retention is extraordinary, gradually falling to a lasting, rocky finger that effortlessly coats the glass with gobs of lace throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The hops turn up first with a nice grapefruit presence that takes on notes of ripe to over ripe peach and melon.  Clove then works its way through and brings with it banana and bubblegum notes to establish a very pronounced Hefeweizen character. The aromatics close out with just a bit of honey-laced wheat and caramel.

Taste:  Although similar to the aroma, this beer’s flavors mix it up a bit by leading with those beautiful, trademark Hefeweizen notes of banana, bubblegum and clove.  The hops work their way out of the clove and fully engulf the palate with tones of peach, melon, apricot, lemon zest and grapefruit.  A touch of pine and black pepper slips in just before the beer finishes with some gently sweet notes of wheat and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium to medium-high carbonation level, this beer has a beautifully creamy texture that allows you to fully explore every aspect of each sip.  The hops supply a bit more bite than you would normally expect from a Hefeweizen, but they are held in check and gorgeously balanced by the sweeter banana notes from the yeast and caramel from the malts.  The ABV is tame at 6%, but it does allow for a touch of warmth in the throat.  The aftertaste is a welcomed, lingering presence of clove and peach.

Final Thoughts:  Braupakt delivers exactly what you hope would come from a brew day led by the master brewers at Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada.  They wrapped that legendary Hefeweizen base around some juicy American hops to offer just the right amount of invigorating brightness (citrus fruit and pine) while a stone fruit character (peach and apricot) actually accentuates and highlights the style’s more expected clove, banana and bubblegum tones. It is the best of both worlds meeting on middle ground.  Its Hefeweizen character is absolutely stunning and is not at all bullied by those American hops . . . but those juicy hops still find their moments to shine brilliantly through those Hefeweizen notes and elevate the overall experience.  These brewers were clearly looking for a sweet spot between the two, and they certainly found it in this artful composition.  Braupakt is not your everyday collaboration project and it certainly should not be missed.  Be sure to check it out before this Limited Release runs its course and disappears for good.  Prost!

Craft Brewers Nationwide Collaborate on Epic Bottle Auction For ‘We Are Stoneman Douglas’ Charity Event

50 vintage and rare signed bottles from over two dozen breweries will auction online to raise funds for victims’ families and survivors of the tragic Parkland, FL shooting.


OAKLAND PARK, FL (April 5, 2018) – Following the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this past February, brewers from across the country are coming together to offer assistance and support to those affected most. Over two dozen brewers nationwide have donated rare and vintage bottles of beer — many of which are signed by owners, founders, and head brewers from companies such as Stone Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and more — in what has become an epic and unique lot of craft beer for the ages.

This lot is being auctioned online via the We Are Stoneman Douglas site (https://one.bidpal.net/wearemsd, click “Auction Items” on menu) with proceeds benefiting the Broward Education Foundation’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas fund. One hundred percent of all funds generated by this project will directly benefit the families of victims, survivors, and those affected by this tragedy. A second lot of signed barrel-aged and vintage beers from Funky Buddha Brewery, and a private dinner for 30, will also be auctioned.

This online auction (with over 50 other incredible auction items) is being organized by the Parkland Golf & Country Club located in Parkland, FL with assistance from Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, Florida. Individuals can bid on the online auctions through Sunday, April 8th. Due to regulations, these bottle lots will be available for local pickup only.

“This has been an amazing show of support and solidarity from brewers around the country, most of whom signed on and contributed unbelievable beers within minutes,” says Ryan Sentz, co-founder of Funky Buddha Brewery and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate. “Although this tragedy was horrific beyond words, we can take heart in the incredible response from the community and others that shows we have the strength and bravery to rise above it and make a true difference in people’s lives.”
Bottles include (pictured above):
Funky Buddha Lot:

**Editor’s Note: The writers at Mashing In typically prefer to write their own content, but we all decided it was best to immediately post this press release verbatim due to its important subject matter and the timely nature of this auction.**

Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada Collaborate To Create Braupakt

BraupaktBavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany) has officially announced plans to introduce U.S. beer drinkers to Braupakt, a limited edition Hefeweissbier brewed in collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California), in April 2018.

In what is being referred to as a “dream-team partnership”, representatives from Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada “spent the better part of 2017 on recipe development” so that the highly-anticipated Braupakt would properly represent both breweries’ reputations for “establishing brewing standards for their respective styles and . . . renowned . . . contributions to contemporary brewing techniques.”  They achieved this by creating a “fruity-hoppy” Hefeweizen “brewed with the Hallertauer Tradition hop and refined with American West Coast Amarillo and Chinook hops.”  New and old-world traditions unite to yield a Braupakt (6% ABV) that is “naturally cloudy . . . and smells of peach, apricot and citrus fruits with a fine banana yeast note as well as a refreshing grapefruit note from the Chinook hops.” Those aromas carry over into the flavor and showcase “the fruity peach and apricot taste of the Amarillo hops . . . complemented by the mild sweetness of the used caramel malt.”

“This is the first time Sierra Nevada chose to partner with a long-established brewery,” noted Tobias Zollo, brewmaster at Weihenstephan. “Both breweries had something to glean and gain from the other. We came in with high standards for the Hefeweissbier style. Sierra Nevada, who is world-renowned for the Pale Ale style, came in with the discerning palettes for fruity and aromatic-bodied beers. With Braupakt, we were able to exceed the expectations of both breweries.”

The U.S. release of Braupakt will officially begin in April.  You can expect to find this Limited Edition beer available in 6-packs of 0.33l (or 11.2 oz.) bottles at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Weihenstephan’s nationwide distribution network. Prost!

Vital Information for Braupakt from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Release – Limited/Collaboration, April 2018
Style – Hefeweizen 
ABV – 6%
IBUs – 35
Malts – Wheat, Light and Dark Barley, & Caramel 
Hops – Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo & Chinook 
Suggested Food Pairings – “Fits exotic and spicy-hot dishes with fish, meat and seafood.”
Fun Fact – On the beer’s name: “Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavors. The name plays on America’s “bro pact” vernacular for fraternal allegiances and the label features the imperial Bavarian bear sporting a “hang loose” gesture.”
Availability – 6-packs of 0.33l bottles 
Beer Finder – https://www.weihenstephaner.com/product-finder/


Tasting Notes – The Classics: Bigfoot (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfootpour1000This week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us revisiting an old favorite as we get into a pour of the iconic Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

The legend of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot started in 1983 and has since grown to establish this beastly Barleywine as a cult classic in the American craft beer community.  This strong and robust American-style Barleywine reached this status by showcasing “bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops.”  Since it weighs in at an imposing 9.6% ABV and possesses a substantial hop bill, Bigfoot can either be enjoyed fresh or it can age “like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle.”

Although we are stepping back a year in time for these Tasting Notes, the 2018 vintage of Bigfoot is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s expansive distribution area.

Now that we have covered the history of this classic, let’s grab a glass and sit down to some Tasting Notes with the Bigfoot.

Tasting Notes for Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance:  Bigfoot fills the glass as a dark caramel-colored brew that has a reddish undertone to it.  When held to direct light, that caramel tone softens a bit and its red hue shifts to become more of a vibrant copper.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows a good amount of tiny bubbles streaming skyward.  The pour produced just over a finger of tight, sandy-colored foam that has fantastic retention and thoroughly coats the glass with chunky gobs of lace.

Aroma:  The aromatics on this beer are gorgeously distinct and aggressively storm the nose as soon as its cap is removed.  There is a firm earthy layer up front that is both floral and piney.  Those notes are then followed by sweet tones of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee.  A touch of dark fruit and a bright burst of citrus character smooth it all out to close the profile.

Taste:  Resinous pine strikes the palate first with a hoppy bite that is then quickly tempered by a sweet and sturdy malt backbone of toffee and caramel.  Dark fruits – mostly reading as sticky, caramelized dates – then emerge and bring with them some more earthy and floral characteristics from the hops.  Gaining a second wind, the hops assert themselves once again by saturating the finish with a parting dose of grapefruit-laced pine.  Absolutely delicious.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a mild carbonation, Bigfoot has a hefty weight to it and sticks a bit on the palate. Even after a year, the hops still have a good amount of bite to them, but an underlying sweetness is there to do what it can in providing some balance.  As expected, that 9.6% ABV brings with it a building heat that settles in the throat and radiates down to the belly.  The aftertaste is a long lingering note of pine.

Final Thoughts:  There is a lengthy list of reasons for why Bigfoot is so respected and beloved, but its unwavering degree of consistency must be near the top of that list.  Year in and year out, fans of this American-style Barleywine just know that it is going to be aggressively and deliciously hop-laden when fresh but still has the potential to turn into a balanced, sweet sipper over time.  Those of us who cellar beer rest easy knowing that there will be no surprises with this brew as we stash a sixer or case of each vintage away for years on end.  It is just a given that our Bigfoot cache will effortlessly evolve into a steady progression of captivating flavors and aromas as the years tick by, and I think many of us take the beauty of that for granted at times.  Sierra Nevada has achieved an artful level of craftsmanship with Bigfoot that unquestionably holds its own against time, and – for that reason – it has inspired countless brewers to create their own American Barleywines over the last 35 years.  Bigfoot truly is a standard for its style and the craft of American brewing in general, and that is why it deserves our attention, appreciation and praise with each year’s release.  That is why it is a classic.  Prost!

Sierra Nevada and Germany’s Brauhaus Miltenberger Collaborate on Oktoberfest 2017


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) announced today that is has partnered with Brauhaus Miltenberger (Miltenberg, Germany) to craft the 2017 release of Oktoberfest Festbier.

Back in 2015, Sierra Nevada launched a new Oktoberfest program that now has their brewers partnering with a different German brewery each year “to create an authentic fest beer fit for celebrating the world’s largest beer festival right here at home.”  For the 2017 Oktoberfest, the folks at Sierra Nevada invited Brauhaus Miltenberger, one of Germany’s most highly regarded craft brewers, to their Mills River facility in North Carolina to be a part of this special collaboration.

“Cornelius Faust and his team from Brauhaus Miltenberger embody the spirit and tradition of Oktoberfest,” says Brian Grossman, second-generation brewer for Sierra Nevada.  “It was a great to host them at our brewery in Mills River, NC, for the creation of this year’s fest beer.  They brought literally centuries of family brewing experience to the mix and helped us create the ultimate festival beer.”

This year’s version of Oktoberfest is a “deep golden lager” that stays true to Brauhaus Miltenberger’s “approach to the classic style.”  This yields a drinking experience that boasts “an authentic, rich, and layered malt flavor balanced by traditional German-grown hops.”

“We tried to re-create a classic Oktoberfest beer in the true German tradition,” says Cornelius Faust, fourth-generation brewmaster for Brauhaus Miltenberger. “We used traditional techniques to create layers of rich malt notes that remain light and crisp to the taste. That’s the secret of an authentic fest beer—complex malt flavor in a lager that remains easy to drink while you are celebrating the Oktoberfest season.”

2017 Oktoberfest is rolling out now and will be available throughout Oktoberfest season.  You can expect to find this special collaboration brew available in 12 oz. cans, 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-focused bars, restaurants and retailers located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s expansive distribution footprint.  Prost!

Vital Information for 2017 Oktoberfest Festbier from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Brauhaus Miltenberger

Release – Seasonal, Oktoberfest Season 2017 (August to mid-October)
Style – Oktoberfest
ABV – 6.1%
IBUs – 30
Malts – Two-row Pale, Steffi, Pilsner & Munich
Bittering Hops – German Magnum 
Finishing Hops – German Select, Tettnanger & Spalter
Yeast – Lager Yeast
Suggested Food Pairings – “Mild Cheddar, Butterkase, German Weisswurst sausage, Roast Pork, Apple Strudel with fresh whipped cream”
Availability – 12 oz. cans, 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder – http://www.sierranevada.com/beer-locator

**All images provided by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.**


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Reformulates Hoptimum to be Its “Hoppiest Beer Yet”

hoptimum-bottle-pint2017Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) recently released Hoptimum Triple IPA – 2017 Edition with a new recipe and hop schedule.

With America’s community of craft beer consumers consistently showing that it largely values new and different over traditional and established, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. continues to make changes to its portfolio of iconic brews.  The latest example of this adaptation is the reimagination of Hoptimum Triple IPA for its 2017 release.  Thanks to tweaks that involve mixing things up in the hop department to achieve a bit more balance, the 2017 incarnation of this High Altitude Release showcases a “tropical and citrus hop aroma that delivers a refined yet aggressive character.”  Although the IBUs might be down a few ticks, the brewery steadfastly claims that Hoptimum Triple IPA – 2017 Edition is their “hoppiest beer yet.”

Hoptimum Triple IPA – 2017 Edition is available now while supplies last.  This limited release offering can be found in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s national distribution network.  These changes are bound to be the norm for the foreseeable future, so this might just be your only chance to experience this version of Hoptimum.  With that in mind, be sure to grab a sixer or pour of this limited release if you happen to run across it over the next month or so.  Prost!

Vital Information for Hoptimum Triple IPA – 2017 Edition from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Release – Limited/High Altitude Series, launching May 2017
Style – American Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV – 9.6%
IBUs – 65
Hops – Citra, Simcoe & Chinook
Malts – Two-row Pale & Wheat
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Suggested Food Pairings – Aged Monterey Jack cheese, cream-based sauces, citrus-based sauces, French vanilla ice cream
Beer Finder – http://www.sierranevada.com/beer-locator


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Takes Beer Camp Across the World in 2017

BCAW_2017Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) has officially announced that it will release Beer Camp Across the World, an international collaboration 12-pack, in June.

Each year, Sierra Nevada hosts Beer Camp as the “industry’s largest collaboration effort” to celebrate and showcase “the art, spirit and attitude of craft beer.”  In order to create a truly special collaboration 12-pack in 2017, the brewers at Sierra Nevada have “partnered with 12 craft breweries–6 overseas and 6 stateside–to brew . . . Beer Camp Across the World.”  Their efforts have produced the following 12 one-off, “dream beers” that have been created with some of the world’s finest brewing talent:

Each Beer Camp Across the World 12-pack will contain one of each of the beers listed above (a mix of cans and bottles).  Beer Camp Across the World will see a one-time-only national release beginning in June, and these limited edition 12-packs will be available at select craft beer retailers located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s national distribution area.  Beer Camp Across the World is a rare opportunity for you to try some incredibly unique beers from a dozen highly-respected, world-class breweries in one package.  This thing basically defines the terms “can’t-miss” and “must-have”. These 12-packs will disappear with a quickness, so don’t miss out.  Prost!

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Issues Voluntary Recall in 36 States

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Mills River, North Carolina) has issued a voluntary recall in 36 states for select 12 oz. bottles that may contain a glass packaging flaw.

Due to the serious nature of this situation, we will provide the details of this recall verbatim from Sierra Nevada’s press release:

  • This recall comes after quality inspections at the company’s Mills River, North Carolina, brewery detected a very limited number of bottles with a flaw that may cause a small piece of glass to break off and possibly fall into the bottle, creating a risk for injury.
  • The recall applies to product purchased in the following Midwest, Southern and East
    Coast states: Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
  • The beer affected by this recall includes those brands listed below with a packaging date that falls within the range with a code of “M” (Mills River) and not “C” (Chico), which is all information that can be found printed on the packaging or shoulder of the bottle:
    Pale Ale 12-ounce bottles in 6-, 12- and 24-pack (cases) packaged 12/5/16-1/8/17
    Beer Camp Golden IPA 12-ounce bottles in 6- and 12-pack (cases) packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Sidecar Orange Pale Ale 12-ounce bottles in 6- and 12-pack (cases) packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Torpedo Extra IPA 12-ounce bottles in 6- and 12-pack (cases) packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Tropical Torpedo 12-ounce bottles in 6-packs packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Nooner Pilsner 12-ounce bottles in 6-packs packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Hop Hunter 12-ounce bottles in 6- and 12-pack (cases) packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
    Otra Vez 12-ounce bottles in 6-packs packaged 12/5/16-1/13/17
  • Sierra Nevada has stopped distributing all affected beer. The company is actively working with distributor and retail partners to remove this beer from retail shelves and hold any further shipments. Consumers who have purchased beer within the scope of this recall will be eligible for full compensation of the purchase price and are advised not to drink it and to dispose of the beer. A website has been set up for updates on the recall and to report purchase at sierranevada.com/qualitymatters.

“While we believe this concern impacts roughly 1 in every 10,000 (0.01%) of our bottles packaged during this time,” says Mike Bennett, Chief Supply Chain Officer, “Sierra Nevada has set the standard for quality in the craft brewing industry since 1980 and we have decided to take this precaution to ensure the safety of our consumers. To date, we have not received any consumer reports of injuries resulting from the potentially affected bottles and we are working with our supplier to determine the root cause of the issue.”

That covers all the information currently available on this recall.  If any further information surfaces, we will be sure to update this post with those details.  For now, just be sure to check those codes and dates on any Sierra Nevada bottles currently in your fridge.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: 2016 Oktoberfest Festival Lager from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Mahrs Bräu

snofestsixerWe at Mashing In continue to honor Fest Season this week by taking a look at the 2016 Oktoberfest Festival Lager collaboration from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) and Mahrs Bräu (Bamberg, Germany).

Last year, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. began a new approach to the annual release of their Oktoberfest.  Instead of revisiting the same beer recipe each year, the brewery now works in collaboration with the finest brewers in Germany to create one-time only releases that pay proper respect and homage to the Festbier style.  This 2016 release of Oktoberfest was brewed with the help of Mahrs Bräu.  Located in Bamberg, Germany, this “family owned and operated business, run with conviction and passion,” has been brewing beer with “Character” since 1895.  Combing countless years of brewing knowledge, representatives from both Sierra Nevada and Mahrs Bräu decided to brew up an “authentic version of the festival beer . . . deep golden in color with a rich malt complexity, but with a noticeable spicy hop character from the use of the nearly forgotten Record hop varietal.”  That description alone is enough to whet my appetite, so let’s grab a glass and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for 2016 Oktoberfest Festival Lager from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Mahrs Bräu

Appearance: As this 2016 Oktoberfest Festival Lager fills the glass, it is obvious that it differs from the subject of last week’s Tasting Notes – Oktoberfest from Cigar City Brewing (click here to read up on that one) – by being an offering that is a lighter, more blonde representation of the Festbier style’s history.  This one presents itself as a rich gold in color.  When held to direct light, it then glows with hues of brighter golds and straw yellows.  The body has an immaculate clarity and displays a carbonation presence pulsing rhythmically in a few locations along the glass.  A little over a finger of intensely white foam built off of the pour.  It clings with determination to its initial site, leaving sizable chunks of lace at the mouth of the glass.  Because of this, the head falters to a thin top cap after just a few sips. As you can see from the photo above, it is truly a sight to behold.

Aroma: Surprisingly, lager yeast greets the nose first with that clean earthiness that we all seem to associate as that archetypal, “that’s beer!” characteristic fragrance.  A light malt presence works its way forward with crackery notes and a dollop of honey.  The hops then saunter in casually to finish things off with delicate earthy, spicy and fruity tones.  The overall aroma is by no means dainty.  It is blatantly foreshadowing this beer’s full intentions.

Taste: The malts turn up first with gently sweet notes of grain, cracker, and simple breads. The malt and grain presence may be light, but it is by no means shy.  They are here to shine and are held up by a pronounced lager yeast note that gives the drinker a full on Pils-like experience.  This is all accompanied by a soft hop character putting out grassy and spicy notes along with just a whisper of fruity tones in the background.

Mouthfeel: This lager is light in body, but it wants to push itself closer to medium.  It has a generous carbonation level that tickles the tongue and throat.  On the palate, it is crisp with just a touch of playful sharpness.  The sweetness of the malts seems to vanish just as quickly as it hits the taste buds.  At 6%, the ABV does make itself known a bit with some warmth turning up on the throat and in the belly.  The aftertaste is just some lingering light grains.

Final Thoughts: Stay with me here while I paint a picture for you.  You are driving down a country road with the windows down to soak in everything that this beautiful day has to offer.  Your travels take you by a farm that is in the process of harvesting grain.  As you pass, you notice a presence that is filling the air.  This is more than just the hearty, clean aroma of freshly cut grain.  No, this is an indescribable phenomenon that permeates and saturates all-encompassingly: a smell in your nose, a taste in your mouth, a flood of memories in your mind, etc.  Nostalgia.  This is something you have felt before, but it is almost as if you are experiencing it once again for the first time.  Losing yourself in this realization and whatever images this experience has conjured up in your mind, you cannot help but grin, slow down just a bit and fully take it all in before the moment passes.

This beer is that experience in a glass.  What I mean is that it is obvious that Sierra Nevada and Mahrs Bräu wanted to create the cleanest, most quintessential of lagers when they approached this 2016 Oktoberfest.  From the first sip, they want your experience with this lager to somehow be both virginal and familiar.  That first sip, although new, is processed as a memory.  This is a beer that makes you feel like you may have had it before while still coming across with a level of craftsmanship that you have yet to encounter during your craft beer journey.  If you are looking for a simpler description, we can push verbosity aside and say that this is a beer meant to quench the thirst of the beer connoisseur and the everyman.  A beer that is so refreshing and clean in flavor that it will never have the chance to go warm in 2 liter steins at Oktoberfest celebrations everywhere.  In summation, it is a beer that can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be.  Prost!