A Beer Made in Heaven

If you’ve read any of my ramblings here over the last few months, it may have occurred to you that I hold Sierra Nevada and Anchor in very high esteem. They are two of the true pioneers in the craft brew world, two of the originals and two breweries who continue to innovate and yet hold true to their roots and to their principles. Any new brew from either of these breweries is worthy of at least a try.

I was very pleased to see an ad a few weeks ago (in Brew Your Own, I think) for the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Ale. I vowed that I would get ahold of some, come what may, and review it for my legions of followers (how many in a legion, he wondered aloud…). That day has come, the Sierra Nevada XXX arrived in the market today, and I have been sipping at it for the last couple hours. First, I read the label – not only was it brewed by Sierra Nevada, but the “guest brewer” was none other than Fritz Maytag, owner and brewmaster of Anchor. And it’s a big stout, 9.2% abv. What’s not to like? “Fritz & Ken’s Ale” – already, I am inclined to grab another couple bottles to put away for a year or more…

So, the beer itself: DARK, opaque, reddish-black (when held in front of a very strong light), gorgeous tan head, nice thick foam (think mustache-coating)… The aroma is malt, roasted barley, caramel, burnt sugar, coffee… Full-bodied, rich, devastatingly malty… lots of dark malt but lots of caramel/crystal sweetness too. The hops take a while to notice, with all that malt, but they are quite nice – bitter, but in balance. The finish is not dry, nor is it too sweet – again, a nice balanced malty flavor, emphasis on the roasted barley and dark malts… quite a bit of alcohol, very warming… I’m talking out loud here, I realize… Yes, you are witnessing a tasting live, as it happens…

Hey, this is one hell of a beer. Go get some. Period. Unless you don’t like full-flavored beers. Then this is not for you.

Ken, Fritz, you done good. Thank you!

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