Sierra Nevada Harvest

Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop AleSierra Nevada’s fresh hop ale, Harvest, did make it to Central Oregon after all. In its 11th year, Harvest is one of the country’s oldest fresh hop ales, though this is the first year that Sierra Nevada has bottled it. (In previous years it was only available on tap at their brewery.)

This beer sits at a respectable 6.7% alcohol by volume, and though I would classify it as an IPA, according to BeerAdvocate it’s "merely" an American Pale Ale. Also, I find it interesting that it is the only beer I have (thus far) seen packaged in a 24-ounce bottle—rather than the standard 22-ounce bomber or something like a 750ml champagne-style bottle. It certainly stands out on the shelves.

Appearance: Extraordinarily clear, slightly dirty-copper colored like a shiny but slightly tarnished penny. Frothy, rocky head, very light tan.

Smell: Green hoppy notes—reminds me of stems and sap from the hop vine. A little candy syrup behind it? A touch spicy. I first thought "Cascade" but I don’t think it is… [Turns out I was half-right… Centennial for the bittering, Cascade and Centennial together for aroma.]

Taste: Hoppy with a woody-bitter tang and an expansive bouquet that fills the mouth. Malt is slightly roasty and reminds me of a red ale—clean with a tad of astringent nearly-burnt grains. Spicy and a hint of white pepper.

Mouthfeel: Dry and refreshing and a little watery this side of medium-bodied. A little prickly from the alcohol heat in the end coating the mouth and sucking a bit of moisture up.

Overall: I rather liked it, I thought it was drinkable and approachable and there’s much pleasure from the green bitter hops. A well-done fresh hop ale.

On BeerAdvocate, they really like it: 91 out of 100, with 100% approval. Similar story on RateBeer: 3.85 out of 5 and in their 97th percentile.