Sierra Nevada Harvest Newly Developed Hops IPA

harvestnewhopbottlepint2015
harvestnewhopbottlepint2015

You have to love it when a beer is made with hops so newly discovered that they don’t even have proper names yet. And the hops Sierra Nevada pulled into the third of five Harvest series IPAs this year are fairly magnificent, at least when joined together. The nose on the Newly Developed Hops IPA – made with “recently discovered” hops identified on the label as HBC431, HBC472, SS05256 and SS06300 – is wonderfully piney and crisp, with a background of grapefruit and orange. It is made with a lean toward the hops opposed to malts (good call), so it is a dark yellow meets light orange color that pours with a generous white, foamy head.

My obsession with the Sierra Nevada limited edition IPAs the last couple of years has been well documented, and this one isn’t going to deter it. The Hop Hunter IPA made with hop oils is one of my favorite beers ever; I cannot lie. This one doesn’t quite match that in terms of the bounty and the depth of flavor, but as a summer release, it’s fantastic.

This beer boasts a moderate 55 IBU and checks in at 6.5 percent ABV. Made with otherwise standard ingredients (ale yeast, two row pale and caramel malts), it really does showcase the hops, which are added at the bittering and finishing stages.

I popped open a 24-ounce bottle on a warm evening and poured it into a stemmed glass. It opened up immediately and beautifully, and made for a cool, dry sipper that didn’t overpower my palate and remained refreshing. The beer’s lacing coated my palate just as it did the glass, with a dissipating bitterness that was never overpowering. It finished dry and crisp, a perfect warm weather beer with plenty of hop character.

There is a thin but persistent hint of dark chocolate-esque bitterness in this beer, which is kind of odd and took me a while to pick up on. The product description also includes vanilla and oak as flavors to look for, which didn’t reach my palate, although there was a hint of creaminess that might account for the vanilla. But hey, every beer is its own thing for each individual palate, which is sort of the point.

For those seeking an IPA with a big backbone, this might not be the one. The malt character here clearly takes a purposeful backseat to allow the hops to do their thing, and that’s as it should be with a concoction like this. It’s actually not that far from tasting like a “session IPA,” yet has plenty of kick, so it isn’t exactly for the faint of heart.

For me, this beer is all about the aroma and how it feeds the flavor and accessible body. For an IPA lover, especially one who loves the citrusy side of the imperial pale ale, this beer is a treasure. I get a faint sense of lime from it to go with the orange and grapefruit, which I find interesting. And since the hops are so new, it’s impossible to tell which flavors can be attributed to which hops.

Will Sierra Nevada ever make this beer again? Probably not. Will any of these hops come to big-picture fruition of being prevalent beer ingredients like Citra or New Zealand Galaxy hops? Who knows? But for now, who cares?

This is a beer worth drinking with blackened seafood or chicken, or just on its own on a warm afternoon. Find yourself a bomber and enjoy it. Kudos once again to Sierra Nevada for staying ahead of the craft beer curve. This one is worth a pair of thumbs up.