Beer Review 0227: Sierra Nevada Floral IPA (Beer Camp #53)

Each year, Sierra Nevada put on what they call “Beer Camp,” which is where craft beer enthusiasts, with brewing experience or not, can go to the Chico, California brewery and learn everything there is to know about Sierra. They also brew beer that potentially could find its way into the yearly Beer Camp mixed twelve-pack that comes out in the Summer.

In order to attend Beer Camp, you have to submit a video of yourself at the Beer Camp website (sierrabeercamp.com). Ten finalists are selected by popular public vote, while ten more are picked by employees of Sierra Nevada.

As mentioned, in addition to touring Sierra Nevada, winners get to brew beer. A debate is had amongst winners about what kind of beer they want to make, and nothing is off limits, whether it be beer styles or ingredients. The best of the brews go into the Beer Camp variety pack, which for 2012, was released in August and contains these four beers: Oatmeal Stout, Imperial Pilsner, Floral IPA, and Imperial Red Ale.

Floral IPA is just what the name says: an IPA brewed with real flowers, in this case, organic rose pedals. This beer was dreamt up in Beer Camp #53 and had the original name of “Long Stem IPA.” Alcohol by volume (ABV) is 5.9%, and the International Bitterness Units register 54. This beer uses Sierra Nevada’s torpedo hopping system, which is where the rose petals were introduced to the brew. Hops: Citra, Centennial, Crystal, and Saphir. Malts: Golden Promise, Caramel, Special B, and Chocolate.

The pour produced a large and lasting head, frothy and billowing in texture, atop a classically golden-orange colored IPA. The body was hazy with a bit of light sediment floating throughout, and this beer laced up my glass like a champ. Floral IPA is easy on the eyes.

The rose petals used come out on the aromatics, with this beer taking on the aroma of Sierra Nevada’s flagship Pale Ale, but with the floral notes dialed up. There are grapefruit and citrus (orange) hops, with a touch of grain from the malt, a dash of caramel, and a big floral presence that lends earthiness. Not quite like walking in a garden, but you can tell something is different here.

The flower treatment comes out early in the taste, mixing and playing well with your traditional Sierra Nevada grapefruit with resinous pine. The malt bill evens out the middle of the sip, introducing some straw and a dab of sweet caramel; then the finish comes on by drying the mouth out with a steady moderate bitterness, and hitting with more grapefruit and pine, with a more subtle hint of flowers/rose hips.

Floral IPA is certainly a nice IPA, but the addition of organic roses doesn’t really make this beer any better or worse. More bitter than the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and less flavorful than Torpedo…it’s a nice beer but nothing spectacular.

Sierra Nevada Floral IPA (Beer Camp #53), 86 points. Price: $18.99 for the Beer Camp twelve pack, where you get three bottles of four different beers.

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