Review of Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Imperial Helles Bock

21 Jun
Today, I have a special beer to review.  The Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Imperial Helles Bock. 

It’s a collaboration brew (released in early 2010) from the brains of Charlie Papazian, Ken Grossman and Fred Eckhardt.  It’s one of four specialty beers brewed to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California. 

The website,, helps to explain this beer a little better than I can.

Charlie Papazian and Fred Eckhardt are the men who launched a thousand breweries.  Their writing on the art of homebrewing and steadfast promotion of beer culture helped propel the craft brewing movement.  Charlie and Fred agreed to work with us on this special ale in honor of our 30th anniversary.  This Imperial Helles Lager is a testament to the ever evolving brewer’s art.  Bold yet balanced with distinct toasted malt character, moderate sweetness and clean and floral hops.  Enjoy!

Let’s not wait any longer…. let’s get it in the glass. 

This one of a kind brew came in a 25.4 oz. bottle with an ABV of 8.3%.

The appearance was a cloudy, dull orange color with an off white head that was thick, creamy, smooth and fluffy.  It was of great size and supported some tremendous retention.  The head settled to a fine film on top, which left copious amounts of sticky lacing on the sides of the snifter.  This thing looks really, really good.

The aroma had a grapefruit tone up front that was a bit on the mild side.  Not insignificant, just relaxed.  It was still very citrusy, fruity, fresh and snappy with a nice presence of hoppy goodness.  Splashes of orange meld with the grapefruit well.  Tones of biscuit and light caramel add a nice, solid, malty backbone to the overall fragrance.  It was balanced and even.  It was hoppy, but nowhere near a hop “bomb” as I initially thought it might be.

The taste brought forth some citrus zings of orange, grapefruit and peach.  Wonderful punches of biscuit, caramel malt and a delicate grain bill balanced the sweet and forthcoming bitterness.  It was crispy and snappy, clean and fresh.  The most minute “buttery” tone presented itself at the very end.

The mouthfeel was medium, dry, crisp and snappy with plenty of “bite.”  It became ever so smooth as it warmed.  An alcohol warmth was only felt and never tasted.  It started as a semi-harsh burn, but as it developed it created a nice warmth that was most welcoming.   The mouthfeel was comforting with more than enough flavor left behind to really coat the tongue, roof of the mouth and the throat.

This was a very pleasant, nice and enjoyable beer.  It’s not too intense, yet it’s intense enough.  The ease of drink is superb, however it seemed to sneak up on me pretty quickly!!!  I would not be able to have more than one of these at a time.  I have had the opportunity to try all 4 of the editions and this one has been my least favorite.  With that being said, I still think it’s exceptional.  I wish that they would re-release these brews at some point in the future because they are worth a try if you were not able to pick up a bottle.  I was fortunate enough to be able to pick up “spares” before they were long gone.  It’s good stuff.

Stay tuned because I hope to post the reviews of the other 30th Anniversary brews sometime in the near future. 

Of the 30th Anniversary styles produced, which was your favorite?

Thanks a million guys.  Feel free to leave a comment any time.


Score:  4.15 out of 5
Grade:  A-


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