Macro vs Micro - Dipping the Toe in: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

October 6, 2020
Sierra Nevada

Most people who have any relationship with craft beer can tell you what specific beer caused them to pay more attention to the wide world of beer out there.  Some of us got started on crafties after our favorite watering hole ran out of Hamms or Schlitz, and some of us got started because someone simply offered us a beer, and we accepted.
 
ACCEPTANCE IS SO COOL!
 
Acceptance isn’t cool because we’re all snowflakes, Boomer. Acceptance is cool because it means the only reason we might have tried something new to drink is because someone we trusted offered us a cold one.
 
Sure, sure, sure. Simply accepting a beer isn’t like taking romance or finance tips from some guy you met at a turtle race at some bar in Marina Del Rey, California (HI BRUCE! SORRY I POINTED AT YOUR TURTLE AND THEY HAD TO START THE RACE OVER! ALSO, SORRY TO ALL THE STAFF AT BRENNAN’S FOR POINTING AT THE TURTLES! THEY’RE SO CUTE!)...
 
But still. For someone to potentially influence the future of your beer drinking life, that beer that you accepted, and sometimes the person who offered it to you, become bookmarks or chapters in the movie currently being filmed about your personal beer drinking history.
 

Joel Brewhhouse

My personal beer drinking history took a hard turn towards the craft when my roommate Sal offered me a cold brown bottle with a vivid green label depicting a mountain range off in the distance and a bubbly creek down the center. A Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

First swig. GAH! BITTER! GAH!
 
Second swig. CRISP? BURNT? BITTER. WHY ARE THESE BUBBLES PERMEATING MY TONGUE WITH AN EFFERVESCENCE I HATH NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE? AHHHH.

 REFRESHMENT? IS THAT YOU?

I remember that every huge swallow was followed by me looking down at the bottle, confused, and then sniffing the remaining contents of the bottle. How did this beer smell like weed, but then taste like a roasty, burnt bottle of bitter? But why am I smiling from the inside out? Are these hop-induced goosebumps?
 
That immediate focus on the dominant flavors that then gave way to the subtle flavors was a completely new beer experience for me. Beer had always been two dimensional for me: cold and beer-y. Basic. Expected. Bland. Someone says “beer” and I set my imaginary flavor receptors to the consistent malt sweetness of the macro lagers.
 
I had unintentionally walked through a door and found myself confused, but equal parts inspired to find out more. Why was this beer, this Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, sooooooo different?
 
Well, it had different everything: ale yeast, hop profile, malt type. This was 1000% different, and I liked what it made me feel.  I’m not talking about the warm fuzzy feeling that a couple of beers can award you.  That first craft beer experience transpired me to feel like I now had some things to LEARN about beer that made me THINK about beers when I wasn’t DRINKING beers!
 
Just for some perspective, my roommate Sal wasn’t a beer snob. Sal had a Costco membership. Costco sold cases of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Costco was just behind our apartment complex in Goleta, California.  And what was on the other side of that Costco that I could see from my bedroom window?
 
THE SIERRA NEVADAS.