Autumn in a glass: Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale

September 22, 2010

I’ve seen Tumbler out nearly in every store I’ve been to for the past few weeks: beer stores, convenience stores, grocery stores… I finally picked it up to give it a try this evening. I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

As I poured from the bottle into a pint glass, the first thing that caught my eye was the full cream-colored head that formed despite how gingerly I tried to pour. The head is very light but holds firm, and sparkles with life. The last time I heard this sound (albeit louder) was when I poured milk onto Rice Krispies. While there is some serious fizzing of gas escaping the head, the foam does not die down quickly. A good quarter inch remains atop the beer, and it leaves a firm coating on the glass. When the snap, crackle and pop subsides, the result is a very smooth, creamy head that you’d usually find on a perfect pour of Guinness.

The color of this beer is a very warm brown with crimson highlights. Crystal clear, it truly is a sight to behold when held up to the light. I can only describe it as the sight of fall foliage on a perfect sunny, crisp day. Through the beer you can see the gentle rise of carbonation bubbles, letting you know that this beer will have a prominent physical character on the tongue.

Upon a first smell, you are greeted with a very mild, warm bouquet of lightly toasted grains, a mild spice from the hops, and a subtle sweetness that begs you for a sip. Not to be corny, but it’s a smell reminiscent of freshly raked fallen leaves. I actually recalled jumping into a big pile as a kid, and raking pile after pile for my kids to jump into.

Now, the taste. This is one smooth tasting beer! Up front you get a strong malty, lightly toasty character that breaks toward a mild but¬†unmistakable¬†bitterness. There’s a bit of a tart, dry finish to this beer that keeps my pint tipping for more. What I find most impressive about this beer is that while it’s seasonal, this beer makes no use of special adjuncts. This is a simple, honest, and wholesome beer from your most basic of ingredients, and it works exceptionally well. This beer does not pretend to be anything other than what it is – a fantastic mildly toasty brown ale. And the best part, this beer is perfectly balanced. No one flavor overpowers another. Rather, each flavor compliments the next.

What can I say about mouthfeel and drinkability that I haven’t already touched upon? This is a light-bodied, full flavor ale. It’s quenching, with a nice dry, slightly tart finish. It goes down easy – perhaps too easy – as I’m about to get up to pop another already!

Overall, I’m sold. This is a perfect autumn beer. Among all of the adjunct-heavy seasonals that you find these days, this one is as basic as you get, and is perfectly executed. And what’s better? You can pretty much find it anywhere from what I’ve seen! Excellent job!