01 September 2011

Pales In Comparison

With the recent arrival of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale officially in Australia I felt the need to compare it against two of the nations favorite pale ales-- Little Creatures Pale Ale and Murrays Nirvana Pale Ale.
Sierra Nevada is a America craft brewery based in Chico California which has been regarded by many as the one that kick started the American Craft beer revolution!  Way back in 1980 they brewed the first batch what was to become the bench mark west coast American Pale ale that has inspired craft brewers and home brewers alike since due to its big game changing hoppy aromatics cascade hop driven beer.
While you could buy this brew in Australia for about $7~9 AUD per bottle at selected bottle shops for many years now,  it was usually brought in to the country as an "unofficial grey import" which very much compromised the brews quality.It was brought over via various countries with no temperature control  and by the time it reached here it would be very close to the best before date or past it!
Now thanks to the demand of  Australia's PROPER beer drinkers and Phoenix Beers in Western Australia -Sierra Nevada is now officially available in Australia! Transported from the USA via refrigerated container so us Aussies can now enjoy fresh Sierra Nevada Pale Ale the way its creators meant it to be! It is also alot more affordable now at about $20AUD a six pack!!
So I picked up a sixer and a couple of local Pale Ales from the local supermarket bottle-lo. To make it fair as some of you may already know I do live near Murrays Brewery(lucky me:) but for intensive purposes of the comparison I decided to pick up a bottle of Nirvana Pale Ale at the supermarket bottle shop as the bottle would have been stored under the same/similar conditions as the other two and not directly from the brewery which would I think give it somewhat of an advantage.
Okay on to the comparison!
Little Creatures Pale Ale (W.A. Australia) 5.2%ABV

My first real American style Pale ale way back in 2004 and gave me my first hop hit! It was amazing the floral fruity aroma and the drinkabilty was awesome! The malts and hops melded together perfectly going down.... slightly sweet in a good way on the finish.  Probably one of the first beers that I really raved about to both friends and family. Every time I bought this beer back then I enjoyed every drop! Now over the years I have gone on to much more bigger beers such as  hoppy double IPA's.... does the creature still liven up my palate and senses? In a word no.It is not  the beer I remember as a younger hophead. The Aroma is there but only just....I noticed there is no slight yeast sediment  in the bottom of the bottle like before either. The mouthfeel is now alot thinner too no real hoppy hit like back in 2004.  Okay it is a good beer... but having the memory of tasting what it should taste like is very dishearting. Maybe they thinned it out to appeal to the demand? Different/less hops used? Have I punished my palate too much with hoppy goodness? I have been drinking mostly wheat beers lately so my hop senses have been calmed down too.  In a nutshell good beer if nothing else is available or you haven't tried it before...... still I will also say a good entry beer into the world of craft beer. Cute label though.... they haven't changed that!   $20~23AUD a six pack

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Chico C.A. USA) 5.6%ABV

Now this what I was craving! Nice balanced cascade hop aroma on the nose and some medium malt tones. Not much of a head after being poured slowly into my shaker pint glass. Very enjoyable going down a good malt backbone without being too overpowering. Nice hoppy finish and very hard to put the glass down!  I kept going back to this stuff over the course of the comparison . Extremely smooth and drinkable while giving you a hop hit.The brewers really got the balance right with this one !
Would be a regular to go to beer if the 24pack case price was right but its still up there around the $77~80AUD mark. The sixer is the way to go with this guy at $20 bucks and also the fact the bottles are 345ml and not 330ml like LCPA and MNPA.  A fantastic beer..... I can see why it has inspired many .....including me!  Gotta love that label....

Murrays Nirvana Pale Ale (N.S.W. Australia) 4.5%ABV

Now this beer after poring correctly had the biggest retaining head out of all three. Awesome BIG hop aroma on the nose from those kiwi hops used- lots of fruit characters and a hint of floral. Going down slightly heavier than the other two with a more assertive malt tone. Good balance between sweetness of malt and hop bitterness. Nice fruity hop finish and very satisfying.  A pleasure to drink. Excellent off tap too if you see it out there!  As some of you would know Murrays Brewery's beginnings were actually inspired by a visit by Murray himself to a diner in the United States were he tried Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...and loved it! The rest is history and he and his brewers have created a fantastic example in this evolution of the style! Well done guys! $15AUD a four pack or $15 bucks a growler fill at the brewery!
It is great to see Sierra Nevada available officially in Australia now and at a reasonable price too! Fantastic drop would like to give it a go off tap some day!  Little creatures has tied us over 'til now... sorry old friend you just 'aint what cha used to be! But in the end I really crave my good 'ol hops and freshness you can't beat from a true craft/micro brewery and Murray's Nirvana Pale Ale would be my choice if all three were offered to me.

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