Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale (say that name 3 times fast)

Forget the oddly flavored pumpkin beers; throw out the Oktöberfests; and pitch the Märzens!  Here is a beer that fits nicely next to a slice of decadent pumpkin cheesecake or sitting next to an outdoor fire while leaves carried on a brisk fall breeze, rustle in the background.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the greatest beer on the face of the planet, but I do have to show an immense appreciation for a brewery that demonstrates some restraint while creating and nurturing it’s brew.  All too often, American craft brewers try to launch themselves through the “glass ceiling” only to land with a disastrous thud and covered in broken glass.  Such is the case with many fall seasonals.  You can find a cloyingly sweet and overpowering pumpkin beer with great ease (see the Blue Moon Harvest Moon for an example on how NOT to brew).  And Märzens/ Oktöberfests are almost cliché.  But with the Sierra Nevada Tumbler, you can actually taste Autumn. 

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

Origin: Sierra Nevada Brewery, Chico, Cali.

Style: Brown Ale

Color: Deep reddish brown…Color is indicative of fall foliage (no really, it starts on the edges with a deep red hue with occasional flashes of orange, and finishes with a deep reddish brown).

Aroma: This beer’s aroma is mild and restrained, yet noticeable and pleasing.  Roasted malts (a combination of toffee and bread with a faint twinge of coffee) predominate the front of the aroma.  This fades to a subtle underpinning of a vegetal nature (think of a warm barn on a cold winter’s day with freshly strewn hay on the floor) with notes of leather.  This transitions to notes of a slightly spicy nature (cinnamon) before finishing with the faintest smell of ripe fruits/ vanilla.

Taste: The initial taste of this brew comes across as a slightly maple syrup-esque sweetness with a few chords of nuttiness and the faint overtone of toffee.  This quickly gives way to a rich and roasted flavor with the slight taste of coffee.  The beer finishes with the faint taste of mocha (combination of coffee and vanilla really)

Mouthfeel: Crisp and surprisingly dry for such a dark ale, not entirely unlike champagne.  Overall mouthfeel though is of an almost velvety creamy texture.  Beer maintains a faint lacy head after the initial pour. 

Recommendation: This beer is all about balance and nuance.  It is definitely a transition beer between the Summer Hefes and the Winter Warmers (can’t wait!), and it performs this function with great virtue.  It is, in short, the perfect beer for fall. 

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