SIERRA NEVADA rarely strives to be predictable or safe. Yet in summer lager there is little space for high-flying acts or daredevil stunts: dependable, drinkable, and refreshing are all that’s required, or indeed, all that’s expected. Thus Summerfest is a success overall as it checks those three boxes decidedly, but considering how Sierra Nevada rose to fame via bold new proclamations, their Summerfest smacks somewhat of lost opportunity.
The beer pours a light golden color with consistent if somewhat slow carbonation and an initially large, sudsy head full of slightly brackish mineral flavors. Lacing is minimal. The aroma is quite muted for Sierra Nevada: some grass, citrus, just a bit of caramel, and with the appropriately noncommittal hop breeziness that comes from Saaz and Perle. On the palate it’s quite malt-forward, though still with enough carbonation keeps things sparky at the outset before passing on to a controlled burst of Pilsner malts, honey, and a bit of cereal grain. The body (final gravity of 2.8 Plato) is a little heavier than expected, inhabiting a grey zone between fairly robust Bohemian lagers and their lighter German counterparts. The finish has some of the punch and spice of the former, but also the phenols and some lingering minerality more akin to Bitburger.
Altogether this is a flavorful beer (as far as pilsners go, of course), but not always in the most satisfying of ways. Perhaps its statement is just too confused by age, as this sample was too old to be sure of a peak performance. Estimate at least three points higher when fresh off the line.
Served: 12 oz canned May 20, 2013