Stagnation and creative atrophy often sets in industries as well as the companies that form them.  In the brewing industry, the greatest example is the post World War II domination of the Macro lager over the beer market.  Post beer reformation, it still occurs.  I am reminded of Autumn and the unyielding commitment by just about every brewery  out there to commemorate the change of season with a pumpkin ale.  There are also those breweries that grow to a large size and forget their creative roots.  They pump out the same stuff, at the same intervals…building new beers and collaborating with other breweries is a thing of the past.

Perhaps as Sierra Nevada approaches their 30th birthday they are having a midlife crisis of sorts, because they seem to be ensuring that they don’t become an apathetic brewery.  After the recent collaboration with Dogfish head, the brewery announced more was to come, including the release of Glissade, a golden bock, to replace their old ESB spring seasonal.

First off, it is incredibly odd and game-changing to up and change a tried and true seasonal, but I think the move is bold, and warranted.  The ESB wasn’t bad.  It was actually pretty good, but really, how many times can you drink it?  Secondly…a golden bock?

In true reformative character, the reactionary nature of the craft beer movement shuns its past, even if that past contains great nuggets of truth.  I can’t tell you how many beer geeks I’ve come across have made some sort of incindiary statements towards lagers.  Yes, I know Anheuiser Bush/In Bev makes enough lager each year to fill the ocean, but does that necessarily make the style bad?  I think not!

Glissade is a golden bock, or helles bock; a higher gravity pilsner that is usually more associated with winter than spring.  The brewery uses Two-row Pale, Europils, Munich
& Crystal malts with German Magnum & German Perle hops to balance the flavor. The Aroma hops used are German Spalter, Slovenian Aurora & Styrian hops.  Besides the fact that many a beer geek is going to roll their eyes at this type of brew regardless of the brewer, and thus making it a bold choice as a seasonal, it is even bolder for Sierra Nevada, a brewery known for bold Pacific Northwest hops.

So what did I think of the beer?

I thought it was great.  The aroma is strong, sweet, and bears the trademark lager aromas.  The flavor is so smooth. Rich bready/yeast lager flavors, crisp pilsner malts, bicuit, and earthy goodness make the backbone.  The beer has a higher hop flavor than I feel is typical of the style (but that should come as no surprise from SN) but it is mild at the same time, coming from larger quantities of lower alpha acid hops.

The beer was great.  I drank one.  I drank another.  In fact, as far as Sierra Nevada’s typical lineup and seasonals go, this is one of my favorites.

A tip of the hat to you, Sierra Nevada, for not gettting stuck in a rut, and pushing beer drinkers and beer geeks alike out of their comfort zone.

Nate’s Review of Glissade:

Overall Satisfaction: ★★★★☆ 

Among other Pilsners: ★★★★½ 

Among other American Pilsners: ★★★★½