Beer Review 0092: Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Wet Hop Ale

Today’s review features Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada, with their certified organic Estate Homegrown Wet Hop Ale, bottled in a 750 ml champagne style bottle, complete with a wax sealed cap.

This beer is made totally within the confines of Sierra Nevada, with all the ingredients going into this beer being homegrown right in Chico. They seed the barley in the winter and setup trellises for hops in the spring. Hopped with wet hops, which are ultra fresh, used straight after picking and never dried, this is an India Pale Ale style beer with an alcohol by volume (AVB) of 6.7%.

Recently, I reviewed another wet hop beer by Sierra Nevada; their Northern Hemisphere Harvest, which was very impressive and scored 95 points.

The bottle this comes in is gorgeous, and here’s what it looks like without the wax I had to scrape away in order to open it:

Now, a brief word on wax when it comes to beer: it’s completely useless here, except for decoration. In fact, to say the wax on this bottle was a pain in the ass is really putting it mildly. Consider this: a wet hop ale is meant to be enjoyed as soon as possible so the hoppy flavor doesn’t fade. Wax seals are meant for a beverage you’re going to store a long, long time. Not to mention that scraping all that wax off is just irritating. But this review isn’t about the wax, so…

Pouring made for a large head that billowed well over the top of the glass, a very nice sight. The head was creamy and lasting, atop an orange-amber beer that was very cloudy and featured a very light dusting of particles and sediment. There were a few pieces of lacing as I tasted, most of it stuck to the rim of the glass.

The aromas, given this is a wet hop ale, were extremely disappointing. There were some hops in the form of a perfume-like scent, and some grapefruit. Then there’s a malty backbone, with some grain and biscuit aromas, but that’s really it. The bouquet was very subdued, muffled, and muted — kind of a shocker.

Things don’t get much better on the palate, either. Estate begins by showcasing some malt, very general in the flavors featuring some biscuit and caramel, then transitions into a hoppy finish with no bright hop flavors, just a mild bitterness that fades. It was hard to pull the flavors out of this beer. The texture was creamy and it was easy drinking, pleasant enough, but I was expecting to be blown away…

Given the price tag and the hype around this beer, I was very disappointed. If this is a “wet hop ale,” you could have fooled me. The other wet hop ale by Sierra that I have rated, Northern Hemisphere Harvest, was so, so good. This one was merely average and not worth the price sticker. Honestly, it drank much more like an Amber Ale than an IPA.

I hate reviews like this. Hey, this is a decent beer, but the label is a bit deceptive and Sierra Nevada makes much better than this.

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Wet Hop Ale, 75 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.

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