Planning hop flavor from afar.
When it comes to planning Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA, we’re used to walking through hop fields, not walking to our mailbox.
In a normal year, we’re on the ground in Washington and Oregon, picking the perfect Cascade and Centennial hops toward Celebration. Our ingredients manager Tom Nielsen tours the hop farms, taking cones right off the bine, making real-time decisions for when to harvest.
Like most things lately, hop selection turned remote.
“It’s all done by mail,” Tom says, “and requires even closer communication and collaboration with growers.”
And Tom knows we already ask a lot of them.
“It’s really kind of micromanaging hop growers, which they hate,” Tom says, laughing, “But that’s what you have to do. Cascade [for example] has a huge range of aromatic potential, and you have to make sure you’re getting the best for a beer like Celebration.”
That meant overnighting a lot of hop samples to our Chico, CA brewery for multiple weeks—at least 20 samples from distinct fields toward Celebration selections. And thanks to video technology, we piped in our partners from the Pacific Northwest.
“With every selection we did,” Tom says, “I would always arrange for a grower or a supplier to start off with how everything’s been going—there are a million things to discuss when you get into the hop harvest.”
Those conversations, and careful selections, sure paid off. Tom insists this Celebration release is among the smoothest he’s ever had, highlighting the “beautiful balance of ethereal pine and sweet floral notes” with malts that “don’t overstep their boundaries.”
If you’re looking for a silver lining this year, perhaps it comes with a red label.
Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA 2020 Edition