Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary: Fritz & Ken’s Ale

June 30, 2010

I was only five years old when Fritz Maytag purchased the floundering Anchor Brewery in San Francisco and began the American craft brewing movement. At that age, I would toddle up to my dad with an empty Dixie cup and ask for a sip of what he was drinking at the end of a long day of work. Burgie, Hamms, and the now re-popular Pabst Blue Ribbon were doled out in quarter-ounce pours. I felt like a bonified adult happily marching away with the same thing dad drank. (Please don’t bother to call CPS on my father… I’m 35 years old now. The statute of limitations for child endangerment have expired at this point, I’m sure. Besides, how many Southerners rubbed bourbon on their children’s gums during teething? ‘Nuff said.)

Set upon my path to pursue beer at an early age, today I find myself with the 30th Anniversary Ale from Sierra Nevada. I lived in the Sierra Nevada foothills around the same time this brewery was born so it seems fitting for the both of us. They’ve brewed great beer for as long as I’ve been drinking. Criminy… someone call my AA sponsor!

Fritz & Ken’s Ale is a collaboration between the afore-mentioned Anchor Brewing founder Fritz Maytag, heir to the Maytag washing machine fortune, and Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, CA, who began the American Pale Ale movement I mentioned two weeks ago. Theirs is one of four brews celebrating the three decades Sierra has been in operation. Now, a stout isn’t usually ideal for our sweltering summer months, but I always say drink what you like when you like to drink it.

For the same reasons people drink iced coffee all year round is why this ale is so appealing. It pours up espresso-like with a nice crema cap of foam. Almost black, it’s so brown. Coffee bean and burnt sugar with a touch of dried fruits dominate the aromas. Flavor is dark chocolate wrapped around candied orange with tons of deep-roast coffee. Wonderful bitter finish with a stab of sweetness from the roasted malted grains. Creamy and dangerously drinkable.

Anyone who enjoys craft beers should thank these two pioneers of brewing. Instead, they’ve thanked us with another flavorful creation. Here’s to 30 more years.