Every year since 2005, autumn at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company meant the release of Anniversary Ale. Until 2007 this American pale ale style offering was only available in the brewery’s Chico, California tasting room/pub. Increased demand led to the beer being offered in bottles after that.
This year, the brewery is putting an end to this tradition and starting a new one. Instead of Anniversary Ale, they have released Tumbler as their autumn seasonal. Called an “autumnal brown ale”, the website boasts of its “gracefully smooth malt character” from the use of malt “within days of roasting at the peak of its flavor.”
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Caramel and grainy sweetness are accentuated by toast and light coffee roast. Subtle earthy hops let the malt take center stage. Hints of raisin.
Appearance: Medium-dark brown and clear. Pours with an ample beige head that lasts and lasts.
Flavor: As in the aroma, malt is the star; caramel, toast and nuts with light chocolate and coffee in the finish. Earthy and minty hops offer a cooling counterpoint to the malt. Medium bitterness with a crisp Burton character balances the sweetness. Background flavors of minerals, salt, and even coconut reveal themselves as the beer warms.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. Nice creamy texture.
Overall Impression: I have stated in blog posts that one of my defining characteristics of a great beer is articulation of flavors. This beer has that. Malt, hops and other background characteristics are all detectable in and of themselves, yet they come together to make a tasty totality. Tumbler is a very well-made beer. But I would be disappointed by anything less from Sierra Nevada. The earthy hops and sharp, but subdued bitterness make a great counterpoint to the nutty/toasty malt. A nice beer for a chilly autumn eve.