Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale
Posted by Bull E. Vard
I was tipped off to Sierra Nevada's Harvest Fresh Hop Ale's existence by Lee and the moment I read about it, I knew I must get me some. For my money, Sierra Nevada makes the best Pale Ale I can get my hands on. Something about the hoppiness of the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is better than other pales. It's just a much more crisp taste that I haven't found anything comparable. So, needless to say, I was excited about their entry into the fresh hop world with an American Pale Ale, which is even hoppier than a traditional pale ale.
I had a nice talk with the liquor store guy at Gomer's on 87th in Lenexa. I was buying the last one they had, they went through 2 cases in 2 days. He said the distributor didn't have any more and couldn't get any more. I had been calling around to different places and couldn't find anyone who still had it. I'm pretty sure I bought the last one in KC this year.
Like with the Yeti Imperial Stout, I looked up the food pairings for the Sierra Nevada. I didn't find anything but I did find that hoppy beers are best with something a little spicy. Stella wanted to Rotisserie a chicken so we came up with a nice liquid injection for the chicken using beer, butter, paprika, soy and Worcestershire sauce. I only had really good beer so I went over to newly reopened Big Dave's in Old Overland Park and picked up some Flying Monkey Amber Ale. We got the chicken all tied up and injected (no rapist) and threw it in the Ron Popeil, (set it and forget it). I quartered the red potatoes and fried them on the stove, browning the open part, and salt, peppered and paprikaed the potatoes and threw them in the oven to finish. When they were nicely browned all over I sprinkled some fresh rosemary from the herb garden over the top and tossed. This made a nice American meal to go with an American Pale Ale.
On to the beer. I had the Sierra Nevada at cellar temperature, I'm a freak I don't really want my dark or hoppy beers refrigerator cold. Even my kegerator is kept at a warmer temperature. As you can see from the picture (this is my actual pour, you can see my OC bottle opener in the reflection, you can see more at our Flickr page, including pictures of the meal), the Harvest is the perfect looking pale ale, amber in color with a pretty white head. The flowery hop smell was glorious. The taste was a lot like the Schlafly American Pale Ale, but the hops were different. A fresh hop beer obviously uses the hops after they picked and before they're dried. It's like the difference between using fresh herbs instead of dried. The flavor is more robust and fresh. The main difference between the Schlafly and the Harvest was the hop bitterness was more flavorful and complex. It truly was a great beer.
Matched with the chicken and potatoes, the Harvest was even more flavorful. The pepper in the chicken really brought out some more of the hop flavor. The Harvest would also be great to drink sitting outside on a warm sunny day. I was really sad when I finished it, usually I have 5 more beers from my sixer to drink, but not so with the Harvest since I got the last one.