Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) 4/5

SNPA competes with Widmer’s Hefeweizen and New Belgium’s Fat Tire for the title of Most Popular Beer in Portland. Yet, popularity is not always an indicator of quality. The aforementioned hefeweizien doesn’t taste like a hefeweizen at all (ironic, given it’s the flagship beer of the company). Anyway, this SNPA was the first beer I tried when I turned 21. I hated it then, when I didn’t have a palate for beer. Let’s see how I like it 10 years later…

Pours a golden color. Hardly any aroma, even after I let the beer warm up a little and swirled the beer in the glass. I get a barely-perceptible earthy sweetness. The flavor has a magnified version of this note, like a sweet rye bread. Hops balance out the sweetness nicely. Bitterness lingers on the tongue, and that eventually cuts down on the sweetness experienced in the early sips. It’s not the pungent grapefruit bitterness that’s typical of hoppy west coast beers, more of a crisp bitterness found in pilsners. If this beer were slightly less hoppy, I’d call it an amber. There’s a fair amount of carbonation that prickles the tongue, but it’s not overdone. (Lately I’ve taken to liking hefeweizens less because they’re overcarbonated, leading to feeling bloated.) Overall, SNPA doesn’t have any mind-blowing or unique flavors, but it’s exceptionally easy drinking.

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