Okay, maybe not all of them - I could never turn my back on East Coast offerings. But man, those California breweries really know how to craft 'em.
One of the most popular breweries, not only in California but in the world, is Sierra Nevada. Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada started as a two-man operation and would eventually become one of the most successful breweries in the craft beer industry. Their Pale Ale is the 2nd best-selling craft beer in the country and was the first beer Sierra Nevada released when their doors opened in 1980.
In addition to the Pale Ale, the brewery produces 12 other bottled beers. My personal favorite is from their seasonal Harvest series, the Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop Ale.
Here's a little back story from the bottle:
Each fall, hops reach their peak flavor, bursting with aromatic oils that give ales layers of complex flavor that can only happen at harvest time. For us, fall comes twice a year - once in each hemisphere.
This Harvest Ale features fresh hops from New Zealand - where fall occurs during our spring. These fresh whole cones are picked, dried and shipped to the brewery within days of the harvest.
There's even a sweet pirate ship on the label.
Mike, care to do the pouring honors?
(Ahem. A glass for me too, mister.)
Mmm...the aroma is clean and fresh, almost floral-y. The flavor is of piney hops balanced with a hint of malty sweetness. The hops linger on your tastebuds, leaving behind a dry, slightly bitter reminder of the goodness that filled your now-empty glass.
Sierra Nevada is a prime example of how a microbrewery can cross over into the "mainstream" beer market without compromising any of the quality that made their beer famous in the first place.
I'll definitely drink to that.