Every time I approach a bottle of Sierra Nevada beer, I smile. "Fresh seal cap" it says, "use bottle opener". As opposed to what? Yes I'm aware that American beers frequently have twist-off crown caps. I even remember the days when our Miller Genuine Draft came direct from Milwaukee in such bottles, before Beamish & Crawford acquired the rights to make it in Cork. But a childish sense of glee derives from images of lazy gits shredding their fingers trying to screw off the cap from a bottle of Beer For Grown-Ups.
Schadenfreude aside, this evening's beer is Sierra Nevada ESB: yet another new arrival from the US. The first hiss from the cap gave me a very American jet of hops aroma. The pour also produced a satisfying rich orange coloured ale, leading me to expect the same sort of hoppy surprise I got from the brewery's Anniversary Ale.
Denied! The first sip left no doubt that this is a malt-driven beer. The hops are a mix of English and US varieties, but I'm pretty sure that the former are in the ascendancy, imparting dryness rather than real bitterness. The malt flavour adds candy notes which come close to cancelling the hops out. The sum total of all this is really not very much, and I see no excuse for a hefty 5.9% ABV.
This is the sort of beer which would work well by the pint, cask conditioned, with a little over half the alcohol. As an imported baby bottle, proper cap notwithstanding, it's just not working for me.