Beer of the Week: Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
|They say it's your birthday...|
One of the reasons I really love homebrew is the chance it gives you to learn what individual beer ingredients taste like. Make enough brews with centennial hops, and you start to detect its bitter citrus flavor when you taste a beer. If you add chinook or warrior hops next time you might note the differences in aroma and flavor.
Homebrew was where a lot of today's biggest craft beer makers got their start. Guys like Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione and Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman first developed their love for brewing over five-gallon DIY batches the very same way thousands of enthusiasts do today. If you take a look at the lineup those two companies produce, they have a decided homebrew feel to them: a willingness to experiment, to stretch their arms, and endeavor for the unique.
|Rich, colorful, delicious.|
Same thing goes for the hops. Cascade, for example, is citrusy, piney, and floral; you can taste all those things in Anniversary Ale. The beer's bitter notes come from chinook, a hop with a very high alpha acid content, which is the substance in hops that bitters beer. The result of the combination of these two is a beer with a lot of citrusy, grapefruit notes and a very robust bitterness. But since the caramel and Munich malts used are on the sweet side, those flavors end up balancing out and creating a very drinkable beer.
Another great reason to experiment with homebrew is it's as fun as it is educational. Tonight, I'm heading over to my brew partner's house to work on our latest beer, a hoppy vanilla wheat ale. This time we used ingredients we never had before, so tasting the product before we transfer it another container should be very exciting (we're transferring it to remove the excess debris that accumulates during fermentation, but that's another subject). But once we see how these new flavors work in the beer, we'll be able to use them better in the future as well as appreciate them better in other beers -- tasting other beers being a big part of the fun too.