This week’s Pale Ale Head-to-Head is between a titan and a lesser known brewery. I’m talking about Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale versus Two Beers' Persnickety Pale Ale. Before we get into it, I want to say that this was the closest Head-to-Head we’ve done, and both these beers are superb. I also want to give you a little heads up about what’s to come this week. Yesterday, G and I spent a good amount of time in Ellensburg, WA at Iron Horse Brewery with Greg Parker one of the owners. I’ll be posting about our fun time and talk with Greg early this week, and of course a couple photos. With that said let’s review the hell out of some pale ales!
Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale pours a thick white creamy head that sticks around. The color is a golden honey color that looks “clean and crisp” as G would say, and has good carbonation as well as fairly clear clarity. G found the smell to be very pilsner esc, and the overall smell came across very light for me. It has a sweet maltiness with subtle floral/citrus hop notes. Look - 22, Smell - 19.
The flavor had a nice hop presence, but was very light and crisp. We both described it as a great summer ale, e.g. great for a hot day. The aftertaste had somewhat of a hop dry bitterness, but overall it was a very clean crisp beer with subtle flavors that provided a refreshing drink.There is nothing wrong with this beer, and there is nothing that stands out. Both G and I like beers to hit our palate and nostrils with some character, and we don’t really get that with this ale. It’s a great session beer, and great for a hot day, but nothing that makes us love it - we’ll stay liking it. Flavor - 42.5.
Now, Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite breweries, and much like putting a beer against Dogfish Head, I initially thought this to be unfair, but, as usual, the minute I think/say something like that I get to quickly put my foot in my mouth. Two Beers' Persnickety Pale Ale pours an off-white head that is creamy, thick, and sticks around a bit longer. The color is a darker amber with a lot of unfiltered residuals - very cloudy. The smell has a strong hop presence (both G and I smelled simcoe hops) with a sweet malt characteristic. The overall smell was sweet and floral, much stronger than Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. Look - 21, Smell - 21
This ale is malty, but the hops come in behind and bitter nicely as well as provide earthy floral notes. It hits that tongue and makes you think. This beer is interesting. The malt has a somewhat buttery caramel presence that is then followed by an earthy hop bitterness in the aftertaste. There is also a creaminess to this beer, which was a bit of a surprise after drinking the crisp Sierra Nevada. This beer is persnickety, we didn’t quite know what to make of it, but our taste buds did, and they liked what they got. Flavor - 43.
I first would like to point out that this is the first Head-to-Head that was won by the second reviewed beer. This is also the first time that G and I had such different score differentials, but finished with the same result. We both felt that these are two beers we’ll definitely pick up again, and recommend to everyone to buy. Hands down. But, it was the fullness and uniqueness of the Persnickety flavor that inevitably won it for Two Beers. There was a total of 1.5 points difference, and before G and I averaged our scores there was 1 point separating the winner. With that said, please continue to support, advocate, and drink craft beer. With an unanimous decision that went the distance the judges of Beer Fusion declare Two Beers' Persnickety Pale Ale the winner of the first Pale Ale Head-to-Head.
Winner: Two Beers' Persnickety Pale Ale