Nick Carr on July 20, 2015 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Location: Chico, CA Style: Czech Pilsner ABV: 5.0% IBU: 28 Hops: Perle, Saaz, Spalter Select Malts: Two-row Pale, Pilsner, Munich Appearance: Pale Straw Gold With Crystal Clear Carbonation; White, Loosely-Packed Foam Aroma: Subtle Aromas; Noticeable Malty Graininess with Notes of Grass, Spice & Fruity Edges Flavor: Smooth & Crisp; Sweet Malts Upfront; Fruity Citrus & Grassy Hops Make Appearance; Surprising Hoppy Bitterness Suggested Glass: Pilsner, Flute, Mug, Stange Serving Temp: 46°F—48°F Availability: Summer Seasonal Pairs With: Grilled Chicken, Sushi, Edam Cheese, Rhubarb Pie Well, the hotter days of summer have found most of us. I say most of us because, despite being hot, New Mexico is getting a dose of rain unusual for this time of year. Even the old timers rub their chins, look thoughtful for a moment, but always answer that “no, they don’t remember a May or June as wet as what we are graced with this year.” Our rainy season usually begins toward the end of July. I just hope these early rains aren’t taking the place of regular season rains. In any case it is still hot here, though not as hot as some other places. Still, a good lager fulfills its role admirably even on those chance-of-rain days. And in the lager world there is nothing quite as tasty as a good Czech Pilsner. Clean and crisp good Czech Pils brings malt complexity, spicy tones, noticeable bitterness, and wraps it in a light refreshing package. Well, hopefully I’ve got a good one sitting here in front of me. Sierra Nevada isn’t a brewery known for light lager beers, but they are known for quality, even if that quality is more often exercised on the hop heavy side of the spectrum. Summerfest is their summer seasonal and is definitely in the lower end of the IBU spectrum; a strange land for most of Sierra Nevada’s brew-staff no doubt. But even here, their love of hop does not go hidden. They’ve used three distinct hops in this brew, all are German varieties; one, Saaz is basically the hop that made Bohemian Pilsners what they are. So, I look forward to trying Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest and tasting the hoped—for magic of an old hop-hand like Sierra Nevada applied with discerning grace… hopefully. I believe I have tried this beer before but I honestly remember nothing about it, which I guess can be both good and bad. At the time, I must have not found it overly spectacular, but by the same token I don’t remember it for being terrible either. So, this tasting is as good as being a first… THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Summerfest. If you’ve tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma It’s beautiful in the glass. A pale straw gold color and crystal clear with active carbonation rising off the bottom. A white, big bubbled, loosely packed 1½ finger head forms, but breaks apart and disappears after only a few moments. I had to let it warm up quite a bit to get any kind of coherent aroma. When it did warm up the aroma still remained subtle. The graininess of the malt is most noticeable, with a little grass and spice contributed by the hops. Also get fruity edges, but only in whispers (probably contributed by the yeast). Mouthfeel and Taste Body is light with high carbonation pushing a prickly smooth mouthfeel (yeah, figure that one out). It is clean and crisp with some bittering across the palate. Taste has quiet notes of sweet malt upfront. Some fruitiness, traces of citrus mostly. Mid-palate the grain and bread of the malts combine with a grassy hop character. There is more bittering on the backend then you would find in many other examples of this style. Aftertaste is grassy hops and very grainy, signature to the style. Though, I would have to say that both the bitterness and graininess seem higher in Summerfest then in many other examples. Finishing the Impression I like this beer. I’m not sure why the hop bitterness has such a presence, especially in the aftertaste. The beer is actually at the lower range of a German Pilsner’s IBU rate. Magic maybe. If any brewer has the ability to do some hop magic it would be these guys. This bitterness might be more than some are used to, especially those used to American lagers, but it also might surprise hop heads to find this one actually enjoyable. Now, don’t get me wrong this is not hop heavy in any sense of the word, except in comparison to other Czech Pilsner examples, and this only slightly in the bitterness. It is easy drinking and an excellent summer seasonal offering and a good example of the style. I will definitely revisit it before the season is out. Cheers!