This summer’s Sierra Nevada Beer Camp box carries a telling tagline. North Carolina is about as far Across America as one could get from Chico, California, but this casting of a wider net has brought in a consistently interesting catch.
Mills River’s Ashville Brewers Alliance brings North Carolina’s Scottish heritage to the table along with an apparent Southern love for sweet potato. The collaborative Scottish Ale, Tater Ridge, pours Dr. Pepper brown with a tight, pale yellow head quickly falling to lace.
Tater Ridge throws a nose of earthy malts and hints of a Scotch Ale alcohol burn to come. Upon first sip, however, the Tater reveals a velvet-smooth malt foundation, buoyed by use of the starchy tubers in the mash. The alcohol burn never asserts itself, having been blanketed by Ashville’s own Riverbend Six-Row, as well as, Golden Promise, Caramel, and Chocolate malts.
Sierra Nevada is well known for its expertise with the West Coast hop trinity, but here, the brewery has also stretched out, employing two types more commonly affiliated with lighter, more traditionally German types of beer; Motueka, a New Zealand variant of the Czech perennial Saaz, and Horizon, an American cross between Brewers Gold and old school German hops. Both of these bitter hops help to tame the serious malt foundation the collaboration has poured on this property.
It’s only when the two breweries employ their secret weapon, does Tater Ridge finally break the gravitational pull of all that starch. Mosaic is an American hop described as “Citra on steroids,” with all the citrus and pine of its Simcoe parentage. With some high citrus notes introduced to cut through all the heavy complexity, Tater Ridge finally blossoms into a well-balanced brew exceeding even the substantial sum of its parts.