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Apr 11, 2008 07:25 AM

2008 SN Summerfest

Just tried their 2008 Summerfest and it seems to be a lot crisper with more of an upront hop bite than their previous years renditions............I am not as versed in breaking down the essentials as many of the individuals who regularly visit this board and, the recipe doesn't seem to have changed...... so is it because of the newness of the offering?......are the new caps making that much of a notable difference?......
I seem to like the beginning better than the finish/aftertaste.......
Thanks for the feedback.

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  1. Well, it is really fresh right now. That makes a huge difference in hop character.

    I guess its that time of year to stock up on Bigfoot to make it through the summer and fall months. I hope they put the anniversary in twelve packs again this summer. I would love to see the return of last year's IPA, but looks like this year's ESB crap has replaced it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: LStaff

      dude, get used to it. that's what the hop shortage is gonna mean. get ready for maltier, less hoppy beers.

      1. re: tuqueboy

        SN has all the hops they need and probably more due to hop contracts. They knew about the hop shortage when they made the recent batches of Harvest Ale, Celebration, and Bigfoot. Hard to argue that these beers had any less hops than prior years - in fact, Celebration and Bigfoot were hop bombs this year compared to last year's versions.

        I didn't think the ESB was anywhere near as malty as the IPA was last year - that's why I thought it was lacking that SN charm. EKG's, which the IPA was based on, are in definitely in short supply, so I can see trying to utilize US Goldings instead, but would have been better had this beer had the malt profile that the IPA had - and imo would have been ten times better had they had just substituted american hops in last year's IPA recipe instead.

        Still love SN seasonals though and always look forward to the next release.

      2. re: LStaff

        I quite like the ESB, although I preferred their IPA -- which they released in the spring for at least a few years running. (Their Pale Bock was even more to my liking, but I haven't seen it in bottles since '99.)

        Sierra Nevada's stout seems a bit out of whack to me (there's not enough malt to hold up all those flowery hops, in my view; back in the 80s it was a much better brew), but the only SN beer I really don't like is the Summerfest. It strikes me as strangely dull and nondescript, totally out of character for Sierra Nevada.

        1. re: Kenji

          Re: the Stout- there's actually a ton of residual malt in there (I'll have to check, but I believe it is only around 65% attenuated), and there better be that's for sure! The out of whack quality may be because you are getting some old samples. You wouldn't think a beer that big would deteriorate so quickly, but it really starts to lose something at around 2, maybe 3, months from the bottling date.

          1. re: TongoRad

            According to the specs on their website I calculated attenuation at 70%. With a finishing gravity of around 1.018 (4.8P), lots of residual sugars. I wonder if they are hitting their numbers by adding a bunch of crystal malt or employing high mash temps, or crashing the yeast when it hits the desired gravity?

            1. re: LStaff

              Yeah- the old memory of mine is a bit faulty, but 70% is still pretty darned malty and it is definitely needed to support that 60 IBU's of bitterness. I've used their yeast quite a bit, and its nature is to be very attenuative, but I've gotten high terminal gravities by both using about 10% crystal and a high mash temp (155F or even higher). I seriously doubt that SN crashes their yeast- that's a big no-no, and I've never even gotten a hint of D in their beers (even the occasional old sample), which would be bound to be the case if they were crashing.

              I love their Stout- to me it may even be the great 'unsung' beer in their lineup but, then again, most folks may be getting examples that are not in their prime and then serving it too cold to boot.

              The Summerfest used to be one that I looked forward to, and I'm still good for a case each year, but it seems to have lost its appeal to me now that I can get Sly Fox Pils quite easily. Around four+ years ago I would drink a lot more of it.

            2. re: TongoRad

              TR, most of the SN Stout I've sampled was in Northern CA., not far from the brewery. And I've also tasted it at the brewery in Chico. So my samples have generally been very fresh. The brew just seems a tad out of balance to me.

              BTW, in the 80s, the stout was very different. It had over 7% ABV and verged on being an imperial stout. I loved it then; it was my favorite stout. But at some point in the early 90s, SN reformulated their stout, and it just hasn't -- to my taste, anyway -- worked as well since. It's still a good brew though, and I certainly prefer it to, say, Guinness.

              My current favorite stout is Mercury's Brewing's Ipswich Oatmeal. It is is very vigorously hopped, but it's got the thick, powerful malt base to hold up those hops.

              1. re: Kenji

                Lucky you!

                FWIW- I have a cheat sheet from the very early 90's (a pamphlet of the sort that you would get at their table at festivals- very similar information to what is available on the website), not as far back as you recall, and it seems like it was more attenuated back then (76%) with a higher alcohol content (6.3% or so as opposed to 5.8% now)- so there have been changes or refinements depending on one's point of view. I have no IBU's from then, so maybe it's maltier because they were increased (60 is a lot, IMO). Either way, personally it still does it for me.