I love Sierra Nevada for their Pale Ale and Torpedo - two delicious hoppy West-Coasters - as well as the lovely Bigfoot. Those three are well known and well respected, but what of the black sheep in the range? I've had both of these before, but notes weren't taken, and my memory of them is rather iffy. As such, it's time to give them a reappraisal.
First up is the Sierra Nevada Porter. It pours a dark red/brown that's quite clear in the light, and supports a small off-white head. The aroma has a nice hop profile, with herbal highlights shining through the otherwise malty aroma. There's a small bit of coffee bitterness, but apart from this there's not a whole lot going on in the nose. The taste is actually pretty nice - there's a hoppy, vegetal opening with a malty toffee and chocolate follow-up. The finish revives some of the juicy, fizzy hop highlights from the aroma, while there's a slight tobacco aftertaste. It's very light bodied, and quite easygoing. Tasty, but not a classic entry to the style.
The next is better - Sierra Nevada Stout pours a much darker black with highlights of caramel visible at the base of the glass. It also produces a head that's more tan than white, just what I like to see in a stout. Straight away I can tell there's more biscuit malt coming from the aroma, backed up by the same herbal and floral hoppy notes as in the porter. It's beautiful to taste, and clearly a step above the porter in it's intensity and body. Dark fruit begins proceedings, followed by sticky toffee and chocolate malt. The hops lend more bitterness to the palate than they do in the porter, helped along by small coffee notes. Lovely stuff, and all supported on a nice full body.
To be honest, both of these beers are quite good, with the Stout being the pick of the two. That being said, when I'm next availing of the 4 for €10 offer on SN beers, I'll be sticking to the Pale Ale and Torpedo.