Sierra Nevada Otra Vez
3.5 / 5.0
Look: 3.0 | Smell: 3.0 | Taste: 4.25 | Feel: 3.5 | Overall: 3.25
Brewery at a glance: Sierra Nevada may have been one of the first breweries that introduced me to craft beer. Back when options on the shelf were limited to your standard array of domestics, Sierra Nevada started to show up as an alternative to the Bud’s, Miller’s, and Coors’s that dominated the shelves (and sadly, they still do).
I distinctly remember seeing their flagship Pale Ale on the shelf, having no idea what a pale ale was, and purchasing it just to try something different. In fact, now that I really think about it, I’m fairly certain that Sierra Nevada holds the honor of giving my first taste of an IPA. Since then, I’ve come back to their beers several times over the years and always forget how much I like their products. Admittedly, they have become one of the major players in Macrobreweries and I began to question their authenticity given how prevalent their brews were around the area. At first I couldn’t get enough of it and then, once the craft brewing movement exploded, I almost forgot about how good that first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale really was and how their Porter, Torpedo Extra IPA, Bigfoot Barley Wine, or Narwhal Imperial Stout were also such solid offerings. I recently decided that I was a little too hard on the brewery for the rapid expansion and should probably give them another shake. And what a time to do so. Their Beer Camp Tropical IPA is quickly becoming one of my favorite widely-available brews on the market right now and I definitely plan on reviewing it for the blog in the not-so-distant future. And then they released this unique brew in a style that is sorely underrepresented on the shelves right now as a yearly offering. Sierra Nevada, you won me back!
Look: Otra Vez pours a light, clear, yellow with minimal white foam and semi-aggressive carbonation. It isn’t the most attractive looking beer on the market when poured into a glass but I honestly didn’t expect it to win any beauty contests. Sierra Nevada has always had great labels that almost clue you into what to expect based on what is on the label.
I’ve always appreciated their brand consistency and how most of their labels are almost uniform in design aside from the color backdrop and the image that highlights the style. This one is a mostly rustic yellow color with images of cacti near a sandy island oasis. The label suggests that this Gose is brewed with cactus and grapefruit and has me already preparing for a salty, bittersweet flavor unique to the style. As a side note, my curiosity got the best of me so I Google Translated “Otra Vez” to discover it is loosely translated as “Once Again”. I’m not sure what this is in reference to but, hey, at least it sounds cool.
Smell: Otra Vez smells incredibly light on the nose. There are subtle hints of citrus, most likely grapefruit, and a tart edge that finishes off the aroma. I’ve had several Gose-style beers recently and realize that there isn’t much sensation in the way of scents. This one is no different but has a noticeable salty sweetness about it that strangely conjures up memories of being poolside during the summer. It is a strange scent in your beer but the scent memory is one of warmer, sunnier climates that is always welcomed in these cold, dark winter months.
Taste: What it lacks in appearance and smell, Otra Vez makes up for in taste. It hits you with its mild tartness, settles into intense citrus flavors of grapefruit, lime, apples, and pears, and finishes on a subtle salty edge that clears the taste buds quickly of the fruity flavor that came before it. The bottle suggests that the fruity flavor comes from prickly pears but, being completely honest, I’ve never had a prickly pear.
I’ve had quite a few Gose beers recently and think that this one is pretty average compared to the other brews I’ve tried in the style. While that may sound like it is a bad thing, I assure you that this one takes the extremities out of the other examples of the style and definitely has me inspired to seek out more beers being brewed in the Gose-style. In short, it is an incredibly refreshing beer that I’m hoping is available year round because it might be a beer I come back to frequently while doing yard work or while being out in the sun.
Feel: What I’ve loved about Gose beers is their use of salt to clear the tastebuds so that every sip seems even more refreshing than the last. This one is very light with lots of carbonation that helps bring out the fruity flavor in the beer but doesn’t stick around too long on the mouth. The use of fruit makes this one tasty incredibly juicy and activates all regions of the mouth with its quick, but intense, flavor.
Overall: So would I recommend this beer? Absolutely. Give this to a person expecting a Bud Light or Miller Lite and you may make them a fan of a new style of beer. I can’t imagine a better time to do this than during the summer where someone is looking for a refreshing brew in order to cool off and chill out. In a world where craft beer tries to pummel its drinker with intense flavors of every concoction known to man, Otra Vez provides a nice break and gives the drinker much needed subtlety without sacrificing unique flavor. I’ve been digging what Sierra Nevada has recently been doing and this one is further proof that, even the biggest breweries still know how to make a solid beer. In fact, I’ll gladly welcome a great addition to any bigger brewery’s line of products over spending days searching for that ultra-rare beer that had limited production numbers that prevent it from being widely distributed in my city.
If you’d like to see more Brew Reviews of Sierra Nevada, I should let you know now that this is the first of three brews I plan on drinking for the blog and I can promise you that all three of these beers are currently widely available on the market. And the fact that they are so easy to get isn’t a bad thing. So go buy a sixer of Otra Vez, let me know what you think, and tell me how easy it was for you to quickly finish most of the six pack because it left you wanting more.
Have you had this brew? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.
Special Note About Style
In case you missed it in my review of Smuttynose Baltic Porter, I plan on providing you with a description of what characterizes a specific style whenever the style is less common. I’ll always be providing direct quotes from The Brewer’s Association Style Guidelines in which you can either skip or choose to read should you be more interested in what constitutes the style. This is yet another perfect beer to do this with since I have yet to try a ton of Gose-style brews. My limited understanding of the style is that they are almost always tart with hints of salt balanced by fruity flavors.
You can find the complete style guidelines for 2015 at The Brewer’s Association Style Guidelines:
“Contemporary Goses are straw to medium amber, or, may take on the hue of added fruits or other ingredients if present. Appearance is cloudy/hazy with yeast character, and may have evidence of continued fermentation activity. A wide variety of herbal, spice, floral or fruity aromas other than found in traditional Leipzig-Style Gose are present, in harmony with other aromas. Horsey, leathery or earthy aromas contributed by Brettanomyces yeasts may be evident but have a very low profile, as this beer is not excessively aged. Hop aroma is not perceived. Malt sweetness is not perceived to very low. They typically contain malted barley and unmalted wheat, with some traditional varieties containing oats. Hop flavor is not perceived. Hop bitterness is not perceived. A wide variety of herbal, spice, floral or fruity flavors other than found in traditional Leipzig-Style Gose, are present in harmony with the overall flavor profile. Salt (table salt) character and coriander are traditional in low amounts, but may vary from absent to present in Contemporary Gose. Horsey, leathery or earthy flavors contributed by Brettanomyces yeasts may be evident but have a very low profile, as this beer is not excessively aged. Contemporary Gose may be fermented with pure beer yeast strains, or with yeast mixed with bacteria. Body is low to medium-low. Contemporary Gose differs from Traditional Gose by the addition of fruits, spices, grains and other non-traditional ingredients. Contemporary Gose may be spontaneously fermented, similarly to Belgian-style gueuze/lambic beers, such entries should exhibit complexity of acidic, flavor and aroma contributed by introduction of wild yeast and bacteria into the fermentation. Low to medium lactic acid character is evident in all examples as sharp, refreshing sourness. A primary difference between Belgian Gueuze and Gose is that Gose is served at a much younger age. Gose is typically enjoyed fresh and carbonated. Overall complexity of flavors and aromas sought while maintaining a balance between acidity, yeast-enhanced spice and refreshment is ideal. At competitions, brewers might provide supplemental information which can include any herbs, spices, fruit or other added ingredients, and/or information about the brewing process.” – Brewer’s Association Style Guidelines