Craft Brew of The Series - Super Regional, Indiana

Well, we're back. It's Super Regional time in Tallahassee. I'm thrilled, and despite not having the time to keep up with the CBOTW series through most of baseball season, I've been enjoying watching the games and watching the season unfold remarkably well for the Noles. If you can't make it to Dick Howser, please tune in, as this looks to be an exciting series.

Now for the brew.

I'm going Pale Ale this week. It's a standard, and every good craft brewery should have one, as it is a relatively easy crossover for the lager drinking crowd. Pop one open, find a friend drinking Miller Light, Coors, or Budweiser, and replace it in their hand. The style has more malt and hop than lagers, along with the fruity esters (yeast-created flavor compounds) associated with ales, and is a nice introduction to craft. Speaking of which, I think we should go with the one that paved the way.

The Brewery: Sierra Nevada

The Beer: Pale Ale

No flashy names. No crazy style, or label, or marketing. Just a straightforward, simple, very tasty pale ale. A true standard for American craft beer, as it set the bar for American Pale Ale, and it is perfect for a series in the warm Florida sun.

Notes on the Style: American Pale Ale is an adaptation of a classic style from Great Britain, with the inspiration generally considered a 'standard bitter' or 'special bitter' across the pond. These beers have a slight malt sweetness and distinct bready and carmel malt aromas, along with mild to medium hop bitterness and aroma. The classic British versions used standard UK hops like fuggles, which generally have woody and floral aromas, whereas American brewers have adapted the style to include the more aromatic, citrus and pine-scented American-bred hops, and often use 'neutral' ale yeasts that impart lower fruitiness. The American Pale is similar to the classic British brews and an interesting exercise would to do a tasting trying both several American and several British versions side by side so you can see the difference.

Notes on the Brew: Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale paved the way. Seriously. Born out of a homebrew shop that opened in the 1970s, Sierra Nevada began serious brewing in Chico, California in the 1980s, well ahead of most modern craft breweries. Their Pale Ale (among some of their other beers) is considered an inspiration to many in the American brewing culture. It is clean, slightly malty, and has a nice hop aroma and flavor. It tastes like hanging out in a field in the sunshine, and I can't honestly think of a better style for a baseball game. I can't say much about it that hasn't already been said. It is a beautiful brew, and a classic.

Other Offerings: Sierra Nevada has a very good lineup. I enjoy the Pale, but especially like the Ruthless Rye, a spicy Rye IPA. Their Bigfoot Barleywine is still in production and also considered a classic, and the Torpedo IPA, a newer addition to their lineup, is a very good American IPA. Additionally, they've done some very interesting big bottle, limited run brews, including some that contain all organic ingredients.

Something Different: My first thought was to lean toward an Indiana-based brewery, and there is one of note that is really head and shoulders above the rest, Three Floyd's. If you are in their distribution area, I'm going to suggest one of their Pale Ales, either the recent limited run Permanent Funeral (amazing collaboration with the metal band Pig Destroyer) or their Zombie Dust. This is one of the best breweries in America in terms of unique, high quality beers (just check rate beer or beer advocate)... For those of you watching from Indiana, Illinois, or Ohio, though, and can get it, grab a brew by the FFF.

In other business, if we make it past the Supers, expect a lineup of several brews for Omaha. I will make sure most of them are available in Tallahassee or Thomasville, and try to get a post up by mid-week.

What about you? What do you like from Sierra Nevada? What are you drinking this weekend, and what are your favorite pale ales?

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