poured a 12oz bottle into a mug. It was bottled on 1/22/14 and came as
part of a mixpack for $15.99 ($1.33 per bottle or $0.11 per ounce).
Appearance: Slightly hazy, dark gold hue with consistent carbonation
visible. Pours a large, bright white, frothy head which laces and
retains extremely well.
Smell: Slightly skunky/herbal notes at first, though close inspection reveals some distinct citrus aromatics.
Taste: The so-called “session IPA” sub-style has been rather
controversial lately. Some dispute whether it’s a true style and not
just a hoppy pale ale. In the case of Sierra Nevada Nooner Session IPA, I
can say it definitely is more than just a hoppy pale ale as it has the
malty backbone to support the IPA label. Many of this genre are
ridiculously light in body with a lot of hops added for flavor, but this
one is a truly light IPA.
Naturally, the hops are the star of the show here. But not in
bitterness, rather, in flavor. A light zesty herbal character of dry
potpourri spice right from the get-go. Some citrus pith (lemon and
orange) across the middle with additional spicerack seasonings on the
finish. Throughout it all there’s genuine malt flavor at core. Two-row
Pale, Wheat, Munich, and Chocolate according to the brewery’s website,
though I wouldn’t describe it as a particular complex palette – just a
solid one. A tasty beer to be sure, with enough hop character to satisfy
hopheads, but not to the extreme of scaring away everyone else.
Drinkability: If there’s one thing a “session IPA” ought to be good for,
it’s drinkability and Sierra Nevada Nooner definitely excels in this
aspect. Unlike other brews of the style, it’s not thin and watery, but a
true medium body and weighty mouthfeel. There’s a crispness throughout
and it goes down smoothly, leaving just a slight aftertaste of herbal
character. The only thing I would fault this beer for is the fact it’s
4.8% ABV, which is a little too high to be considered an American-style
session beer. If they could knock it down to 4.5% it’d be perfect.