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Belt's Beer Garden: Sierra Nevada spotlight

The Chico, California brewery takes center stage this week.

If you paid attention to BBG in the past, you know that I love West Coast IPAs and drink a LOT of beer from California. Well, this week is no different, as I tried two newer brews from Sierra Nevada - one of which is a collaboration with Stone Brewing (how can that be a bad beer?!).

Sierra Nevada is no stranger to Belt’s Beer Garden…I know I’ve featured a few of their "Harvest Series" beers on here before but they just make so many different beers and I NEED to try them all!

They are one of the oldest craft breweries and call Chico, California home. You can find them almost everywhere, which means I’m guessing they're available where you live.

First I'll start with their new Beer Camp release:

tropical ipa

What is Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp? Well, according to their website, it "is the ultimate brewing experience" as they invite beer fans into their brewery almost twice a month to design their own beers and then bring their favorites to life. For this year's brew they settled on Topical IPA - an IPA made with Citra, Mosaic, Comet, Amarillo, and El Dorado hops.

This IPA pours a crisp golden straw color with a hint of amber coloring and just under a finger of frothy head topping the beer. On the nose there is a copious amount of pineapple, mango and other tropical fruit juices as well as a heavy dankness in the background.

When I finally tasted the beer, there was no surprise to it.

Up front you get a slightly carbonated hop fizz with a lot of the mango and pineapple juices. Then, as the sip begins to fade, the dankness takes over and makes its mark. That dank flavor lingers on the tongue between sips, making you crave more of the tropical flavors.

Tropical IPA has a pretty dry finish to it, as well as a mild carbonation and pretty solid lacing. The head clings to the glass in between each gulp; creating clearly defined lines running down my glass as well as clouds in between each line.

The 6.7% ABV isn't even remotely noticeable behind all the juicy flavors this beer had. This brew has some bitterness to it towards the end of each sip but, at only 55 IBU, it's right in the middle of the road in bitterness. A six-pack of 12 ounce bottles will run you $9.99 so it's also well priced.

Overall, their newest Beer Camp offering is a very good, refreshing beer. The booze is hidden well behind some great flavors but, to me, it gets a little too dank towards the end of the bottle. Stoners would probably love this beer.

Fun fact of the day: hops and cannabis are closely related which is why some beers can smell/taste like weed...if you ever wondered.

Still worth a try. 8.5/10

8.5

Next up, NxS...an interesting collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Stone.

NxS

Stone is one of my favorite breweries. Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite breweries. They released a collaboration on December 1st last year. I told myself I was going to buy it as soon as I found it at my local liquor store regardless of the price...and that's what I did (it was only $7.99 for the 22-ounce bomber if you were wondering though).

This collaboration is a barrel-aged double IPA with a twist. The bottle explains it better than I ever could. Basically, they blended two batches of IPAs together. The first IPA "was split down the middle, with 50% being aged in gin-infused bourbon barrels and the remaining half aged in rye whiskey barrels. These beers were [then] blended with the fresh second batch of IPA, which was generously dry-hopped to impart rich aromas to accompany the citrusy, piney, woody, herbaceous flavors". Wow. Just wow.

When I popped it open and poured it, NxS was a dark golden color with moderate head - about a finger of thick white bubbles that quickly faded to a dusting across the top - and had a strong citrus and hoppy aroma. The smell was almost sticky-sweet with hints of peach and pine...but it was, oh, so inviting.

When I finally stopped reveling in the beer, I decided to try it...and I was not disappointed. At first you get the hoppy fizz that Stone is known for but that almost immediately turned into flavors of vanilla and peach and pine.

You can definitely pick up on both barrel-aged aspects of this beer. The gin (mixed with the hops) leaves that piney flavor while the rye whiskey barrel imparts a slight oaky taste on the backend.

NxS is quite a complex brew. There are so many flavors that hit you on different sips. Sometimes there is a nice grapefruit and citrus aspect (from the Cascade, Mosaic, and Centennial hops), other times the bourbon and whiskey flavors come to the forefront with a nice vanilla warmth, and then other times it's the pine and gin that steal the spotlight.

All the complexity of this beer masks the 8.2% ABV quite well - and that makes it a dangerous beer, as finishing off the whole bottle yourself could get you quite inebriated.

It has a medium body to it with mild carbonation and decent lacing around the glass. The little bit of head weaves intricate webs of foam as it slowly slips down the glass towards the remaining beer.

Overall, this was what I was hoping for from these two breweries: a very hoppy, yet tasty and complex beer. These are two of my favorite breweries for a reason...and this beer just continued my affection for both Stone and Sierra Nevada. 8.5/10

8.5