Beer in Review: A Winter Seasonal and a Brand New Brewery

Needless to say, when I think of pioneers of the super-hoppy IPA/beers in general movement that dominated a lot of the early craft beer movement, Sierra Nevada comes to mind instantly. Indeed, their famed Pale Ale was one of the first beers I ever remember having. Thanks, Dad.

When it comes to their many offerings, most of them tend to be very hop-forward, and their winter seasonal is no different. Their Celebration Ale is formally either an American-style IPA OR a Fresh Hop Ale. As in, freshly-harvested hops are used in this beer (typically, there is a roughly two-month window to harvest and store the full years' needed supply of hops). The result, like many of Sierra Nevada's beers, is a strong piney hop aroma and flavor, and a considerable amount of accompanying bitterness. Celebration bears a pretty full body and some malty flavors and a mild sweetness. Overall, though, this is another big, bold, hoppy beer from Sierra Nevada.

Frog Level Brewing Company is a brewery that I had NEVER heard of before, and they made a good first impression with their Nutty Brunette. Or, it may be listed as Nutty Brew-nette, I saw both. It probably just depends on your personal predilection for puns.

Nutty Brunette is a very flavorful brown ale that has a lot going on. While there is a little bit of hoppiness and a considerable amount of malts, the major player is the "Nutty" portion of the beer's name. Roasted nuts are the overlying flavor, along with some bready or crackery notes and not a whole lot of body.

I got burned on my conjecture of distribution previously, so I will just reiterate this was my first experience with Frog Level, and I hope to try more of their selections.