WHAT is this? Another out of season Sierra Nevada bottle. And this one is last summer’s Summerfest seasonal. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you have a look at yesterday’s review of Sierra Nevada‘s winter themed 2007 Celebration Ale. That one was good, but didn’t quite reach its potential. Is Sierra Nevada capable of greatness with it’s Summerfest? Let’s find out.
Much the same bottle and label formula has been stuck to with this, as with the Celebration Ale. Again, it’s that odd 350 millilitre bottle size. And they shun the usual front and rear label combination for a front label and a neck label.
As you might expect, this one is a lot less Christmassy. Gone are the snow covered wood cabins with red and green surrounds. In are yellow colours and images of sunny… well; Sierra Nevada presumably. If you have a better idea that I, of where that front label scene is set, comment below please.
Again, the main front label keeps things simple. It tells us that this beer comes from Chico, California in the USA. That it was imported to the UK by Vertical Drinks Ltd. That it contains barley. But. The prominent alcohol volume of Celebration Ale has been relegated to small text on the left-hand-side. A mystery since 5.0% is not a number to be that ashamed of. True, it’s not strong. But it’s not too weak either.
It’s the neck label that tells us most. In between the marketing speak, there are some facts. And those facts tell us that this is a bottom fermented drink. That it involved cold tank aging. Whatever that it. And is, in fact. A lager. Quite an important fact, I would have said. And one worth mentioning, in big type on the main front label. People who want a lager look for drinks that clearly say “lager” on them. And people, like me, who don’t, look for words like “beer” or “ale”. Come on Sierra Nevada. Don’t write “beer” in large type and “lager” in the small description.
With my expectations dampened, I cling onto the hope, that opening the bottle will be a pleasant surprise. Time to find out.
A small detail I noticed just before opening were the different things written on the bottle tops. Normally, I wouldn’t bother mentioning a detail as boring as bottle tops. Especially as more breweries use the same design across their range. But Sierra Nevada don’t. For their Celebration Ale, they use “Fresh Seal Cap” and “Use Bottle Opener”. But for Summerfest, it is “Pry Off”. These are the only tops I’ve seen that actually give instructions about what the consumer has to do with them. And funnier that on this bottle, the instructions read more like an insult.
After over-coming my laughter, the lager finally made it into the glass. And what can I say. It looks like lager. It’s light-gold in colour. It has bubbles rising quickly to the surface. And it has a head. Actually that detail is important. It means that this one is at the premium end of the scale.
As for smell. Well, it is lager. There’s nothing to mention. It smells faintly of barley.
A few gulps in, and I’m delighted to report that it isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. The first thing I noticed was how refreshing it is. A quality you might want at summer. It’s not too bitter. And although there is that aftertaste that I loath so much, it’s not as strong. And doesn’t linger as badly as those of cheaper lager.
Further in, and this is very easy to drink indeed. It is very nearly as easy to drink as water. I’m growing to quite enjoy Summerfest. Even if it is just a lager. It’s not as gassy as I feared, either.
To sum up, then. 2007 Summerfest is refreshing and drinkable. And the bad bits of being a lager have been hidden to some extent. Just as they promise, this is a good drink for the summer. However, I’m reviewing this on a dismal March day in London. Character and full-bodied flavours are never going to feature in a lager. And you have so many alternative lagers to choose from. If you simply want to get hammered, there’s lot of lager options. Or if you want a classier option from an independent brewery, they exist to. For example, Harviestoun Schiehallion.
My point is then, 2007 Summerfest is good. But is it different enough to stand out on already crowded shelves? I’m not so sure. And for that, it scores well, but I’m absolutely certain that Sierra Nevada are capable of delivering much more. Let’s hope we see more from this west-coast American brewer on our supermarket shelves soon.
Have you tried 2007 Summerfest? Or any other Sierra Nevada bottles?
If so, leave your experiences, comments and insults below please.