Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Seasonal AND 30th Anniversary: Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Bock

September 8, 2010

Beerfest at Seville Quarter is upon us again and this year the food and beer pairing dinner is being hosted by the fine folks from Sierra Nevada Brewing. Perfect opportunity to talk about their new autumn seasonal, Tumbler, and another selection from their 30th Anniversary series that happens to be apropos for fall.

Oktoberfest bock beers are beginning to dominate the cold case’s landscape down at the liquor store. Just as wheat-based ales are perfect for the hot days, malt-heavy bocks are great when the weather begins to cool down. The richness of the malted grains seems to have a heartiness that matches well with cooler climes. Roasted grains impart a sweetness and caramel toastiness… almost a warming quality with thicker textures to ward off the impending chill of October air.

First is the Charlie, Fred & Ken’s Imperial Helles Bock. Normally, “helles” is a German word akin to “yellow” and refers to the paler look of the beer. Not so with the CFK. While not deep and dark amber, it is certainly, to quote Urban Dance Squad, a “deeper shade of soul.” There’s a tall head of fluffy foam that has nice retention and strips of lacing left down the glass. Aromas of biscuit, caramel, orange and Hawaiian bread grab the drinker’s attention. It has a great nutty flavor with nice hits of dried fruits, malt sweetness and just the right amount of hop bitterness at the finish. The alcohol (8.3%) is very well hidden under the bold flavors and abundant carbonation.

Next is Tumbler, their new fall seasonal ale. Classic brown ale in approach, it exceeds its predecessors. A light-beige head rests atop this coppery, chestnut-colored beer packing brilliant aromas of malt, nougat and caramel. The best adjective to describe Tumbler is clean. Texturally and flavor-wise, a very clean-finishing beer. Giant flavors of walnut, maple, caramel and a hint of nutmeg swirl around the palate. Medium carbonation and relatively low alcohol (5.5%) make for a totally sessionable ale.

Two wonderful tastes of autumn from one benchmark brewery. Hope to see all of you at the beer festival. Cheers.