Beer Month Day 30: Sierra 30 Fritz & Ken


It's appropriate that I'm getting around to my Sierra 30 post today since I turn 30 years old today. Hopefully Sierra Nevada and I both have many good years ahead of us. Fritz and Ken's Ale is the first of four beers Sierra Nevada is releasing this year in collaboration with some icons of craft beer to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary. Fritz Maytag owned Anchor Steam (sale recently announced) brewery for the last 45 years and Ken Grossman started Sierra Nevada.

Fritz & Ken's Ale is the best stout I've ever tasted. Take that for what it's worth as I've only tried a handful of stouts and it isn't my favorite style, but the beer geeks over at Beer Advocate agree with no one giving it less than an A-. It poured black with a frothy tan head. It smelled like malt and coffee. The rich and complex flavors included chocolate, coffee and roasted malts with a solid hop background, particularly at the finish. It was very creamy and surprisingly smooth considering the 9.2% ABV. I had no problem downing my half of our 750 ml bottle.

Peter over at BetterBeerBlog was lucky enough to attend the 30th Anniversary dinner hosted by Fritz and Ken at Anchor Steam and has graciously offered to let me include some of his recap of the event. The Fritz & Ken's Ale was paired with warm TCHO Chocolate-Old Foghorn Cake, caramel, Old Foghorn ice cream and raisin compote. Peter had this to say about the beer:

Very dark brown, nearly black with a brown head. The aroma has a deep roasted, nearly burnt quality with a moderate level of smokiness. The flavor is slightly sweet; the malt character is mellow with burnt and smoked malt character. Hop bitterness is a surprising medium-high/high level. This is a full bodied beer with medium-high carbonation.

I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. Knowing what I know about Fritz, I find him to be a man of tradition, especially when it comes to the beers he brews. That being said, I fully expected the stout to be strongly rooted in the Russian Imperial Stout style. I didn’t expect the smokey character of the beer at all but I like it’s inclusion. The beer changes character as it warms up and will change over the years, at least that’s what the majority of the brewers I’ve spoken with have said. Anchor head brewer Mike Lee told me that a couple of test batches were developed at Sierra Nevada’s pilot brewery and the 30th Anniversary Ale – Fritz and Ken’s Ale is the result of the tasting process. It’s a straight-up recipe, no blending with any of the other test batches.

Peter also provided some audio of Fritz and Ken talking about their collaboration:

Big thanks to Peter for the insider input! This was a fantastic beer to end Beer Month with and I look forward to the next three Sierra 30 brews.

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