It’s always interesting to me when a brewery turns a seasonal style into a year-round offering. Craft powerhouse Sierra Nevada did just that with its easy-drinking lager Sierraveza. Inspired by beers from south of the border, Sierraveza is actually more reminiscent of German pilsners from across the pond. It works well as an all-season beer, but the summertime branding doesn’t match what’s inside.
Sierraveza’s can makes me dream of a beach vacation with palm trees and an ocean sunset. The beer itself looks like a standard macro lager turned up to craft level. Its straw-yellow body has a hint of gold to match the sunset on the can, with active bubbles rising to meet a large, frothy white head.
The nose is a bit more challenging than most so-called easy-drinking lagers. Herbal and earthy hops play alongside notes of funky and crisp pilsner malt. Sierraveza smells a hint darker than it appears, likely due to the sweet toffee and caramel aromas brought on by the addition of caramel malt. It smells more like an early fall fireside sipper than a summer beach crusher.
Sierraveza simply is not the beer I’ll reach for the next time I kick back in the sand.”
Sierra Nevada says Sierraveza is “inspired by the classic cervezas served ice cold by the beach,” but the first taste feels more like it was sloshed from a stein. The hops are likely the culprit, as they are a touch more heavy-handed than in most summer lagers and lean more toward the oble hop variety (Sierraveza features Sterling hops, a Stateside clone of Saaz, which is featured in many Oktoberfests). In fact, a dose of Munich malt would steer this beer right into märzen territory.
Sierra Nevada’s Sierraveza is a good beer. It’s probably even good on the beach, but pretty much all beers hold up in that setting. Sierraveza simply is not the beer I’ll reach for the next time I kick back in the sand, and probably not when I find myself wanting to sip a beer outside on a sunny day—unless of course, that sunny day is in a biergarten in October.