So, I had the chance to try my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone side by side with a friend at the weekend. The image at the top, while not the best photo in the world, shows the homebrew version on the left.
I should point out that I bought my bottle of SNPA from the largest supermarket in the UK. It seems to be that whenever I buy a bottle from said supermarket, it doesn’t seem to be particularly fresh, even though it is well within date. Could it be they are storing them warm, or they are just sitting on the shelf for a long time?
Appearance wise, the homebrew version is a few shades darker. Not a million miles off, but easily noticeable. Both had a slight yeast haze, perhaps a little chill haze. Head retention and lacing were good on both, slightly better on the homebrew version.
Aroma, this was probably the most surprising part for me. Neither had the big Cascade, lychee aroma I know and expect from this beer. My beer did have this aroma about two weeks ago, but it has rapidly faded since. The commercial version had a malty aroma, more than anything; like a freshly milled sack of pilsner malt. The homebrew version had a slight rose-like, alcohol aroma (phenylethanol?), along with a slight grassiness.
Flavour, I was delighted that the two beers matched up very well here. The commercial beer had a slightly cleaner, lager-like character, while the homebrew version had more of the rose-like alcohol along with a slight alcohol warmth. Both had a similar, Cascade hop flavour, and both finished with the same amount of bitterness. Also, the homebrew version had more caramel/toffee. The mouthfeel was very similar, however the commercial version had slightly more carbonation.
Overall, I am pleased with my first proper attempt at recreating this great beer. I have a couple of changes I want to make:
- Use less 120 EBC crystal in the next attempt. I will either half this or replace it completely with a lighter crystal.
- Alter the fermentation peramaters. I was very surprised to find some higher alcohols in my version despite pitching a large amount of yeast and keeping the ferment temperature at a strict 19C. I will switch to a smaller batch size next time, perhaps pitch the liquid Chico yeast instead of the dried version, and build up a large starter. I will also note the pitching temperature and the amount of oxygen I use. The commercial beer had a clean lager-like character while mine was much more like an ale.
Oh yeah. I think this beer went great with Surf ‘n’ Turf. We have here some peppered steak, scallops, calzone, asparagus and corn on the cob. Delicious!