Sierra Nevada Harvest: Fresh Hop IPA – Southern Hemisphere

Sierra Nevada Harvest: Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop IPA

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: IPA
  • Variation: American, Fresh Hop
  • Limited: May – July
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • IBU: 67

Notes: Second of five in 2014 “Harvest Series.”

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

We’re devoted to whole-cone hops, and we’re always on the hunt for rare and exciting hop flavors. Mirroring the fall US harvest, New Zealand hops peak during our spring. Southern Hemisphere, the second in our five-bottle series, highlights floral, citrus and fruity aromas from fresh hops picked, dried and shipped halfway across the world and into our brew kettle in one week.

Hops: Fresh New Zealand Southern Cross, Fresh New Zealand Pacifica, Motueka

Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel

Additional: Ale yeast

More Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop IPA Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Follows the new Sierra Nevada Harvest Series label template, with navy blue background.

Color: Dark copper, to amber with almost reddish-orange tones.

Aroma: Sweet, earthy, and boozy.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 24 oz. Bottle

Served in: Official Sierra Nevada IPA glasses

The second installment in Sierra Nevada’s Harvest series this year. Although this was a regular entry in years past, as “Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest”, along with its counterpart “Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale.“

We never had Southern Harvest before, so we were really looking forward to finally trying some. Assuming this version is the same recipe as years past, since the name is pretty much the same?

The idea behind this beer is that hops are harvested in New Zealand (Southern Hemisphere) fields, then quickly transported back to Sierra Nevada for brewing. What designates it a “fresh hop” is the newly picked hops must be in the tank within a week’s time.

Sierra Nevada Harvest: Fresh Hop IPA Southern Hemisphere was actively carbonated by tiny, pin sized fizzy bubbles. It poured explosively, and foamed up like dish soap, to form a large, wispy, sea foam topper.

Sierra Nevada crafts IPAs with volcanic heads, and this one is the most impressive yet. I think we said that about Hoptimum not too long ago, but Fresh Hop is now the retention champion at Sierra Nevada.

Maybe it’s the yeast they use, but the head on this beer was something else. It retained a large circle of 1/4 inch foam until the beer was finished. Have you ever added whipped cream to a hot cup of coffee?  When the dairy melts, that’s what the froth looked like.

Harvest Fresh Hop IPA was an undercover IPA – you might not know it’s one, unless you’re told. Its definitely an ale (duh), but IPA traits were missing – not bitter, piney, or citrusy. Fresh Hop most closely resembled a mellowly hopped pale ale, but a higher ABV was noticeable.

A heightened hop profile may have been absent, but there was a tradeoff. Instead of the trademark “big” hop IPA finish, it showcased a silky body with an earthy, natural sweetness.

Not cloying like brandy, but it featured an increased amount of sweetness over its moderate malt backbone. From there, we detected a slight touch of floral notes in its smooth finish.

We’ve had several other New Zealand hop-based beers, and they just don’t taste as hop forward (bitter) as we are accustomed to. The spoiled children of West Coast IPAs that we are…

So we’ll just call this a good ‘ol ale. If you’re keeping score at home, this was the better of the two in the Harvest Series so far.

Final Score: 3.5/5

3.5 Stars

Sierra Nevada Fresh Hop IPA Southern Hemisphere was a well-balanced, easy-drinking IPA, with an extremely smooth body and finish. Definitely not a West Coast style, since its a reversal of the bitterness, replaced by sweetness. For those that like to rate beer with extra weight given to retention, prepare to be impressed.

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