That title sure is a mouthful, but let’s break it down. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is a brewery in Chico, CA with a series of India Pale Ales known as their Harvest Series. Each beer in the series has something special about its hops, which are already the defining characteristic of Sierra Nevada’s oeuvre. This beer contains only one type of hop, the Equinox varietal, as opposed to a blend used by most beers (Boston Beer Co. makes a wonderful variety pack with 12 Latitude 48 IPAs where the only difference is the hops used, if you want an idea for the effect this can have). According to Sierra Nevada’s website, they have a long-standing relationship with this hop varietal, dating back to before it had earned a moniker of its own.
While a well-balanced IPA, the Harvest Equinox is almost too standard for a Sierra Nevada offering. This is a shame, because for any other brewery, this would be a complete triumph, containing all the characteristics of a fine IPA for which the brewery is known.
Harvest Equinox is a gorgeous bright amber, shining like a polished stone. I admire its sunset gleam while my nose takes in all the fine pine the glass will allow. Once past my lips, it begins with notes of orange and grapefruit note right in the center of the tongue, joined by the floral notes. The carbonation gives the beer an enjoyably smooth richness, as the beer finishes relatively dry, leaving a pleasant bitterness in its wake.
One of my favorite annual beers is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, of which this is a very close relative. I wondered if I could tell the difference between the Equinox, and something I drink in simply obnoxious quantity during its limited annual release. While a local brewpub might make their fortune off this beer, it’s unfortunately rote for Sierra Nevada’s near-legendary stable.