Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale — 5.5%

Sierra Nevada has made some interesting choices over the last year or so. I kind of understood their decision to trade the delicious E.S.B. (Early Spring Beer) for their Glissade Golden Bock (which taught me once and for all that I do not like bocks); perhaps bocks are underrepresented when considered against the bitter and they wanted to branch out and turn people onto what Germans drink while dancing around the maypole. Whatever.

The latest favorite to be benched was their incredible Anniversary Ale. Sierra made the case that they were swimming in hoppy beers; Torpedo, Chico Estate Harvest, Northern Hemisphere Harvest, Southern Hemisphere Harvest … OK, I get their point. Once again, however, an old favorite has been replaced by … well, meh.

I vaguely remember Sierra putting out a brown a few years back, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen it around. Stepping into the breach, Tumbler fills that niche solidly, but not spectacularly. It pours, as you might imagine, a nice autumn brown with good head retention and decent lacing.

Upon first smell, I get some harsh mineral notes that obscure the hop profile and the roasted malt. On first sip, though, it’s all good. This is a textbook brown, no more, no less. The requisite toffee and chocolate notes are there, and there is a slight grassy hop finish. The Tumbler’s body is a little thin, perhaps the coach has it doing too much time on the mat.

With some real outstanding American-style browns on the market these days (I’m thinking Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown, Bear Republic’s Pete’s Brown, Big Sky’s Moose Drool), Sierra really had to distinguish itself here with something special … and didn’t.

Grade: C+


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