Sierra Nevada – Southern Hemisphere & Northern Hemisphere

Tastings: May 25 & 26.
Style: IPA

On Wednesday, I bought the new release of Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere. While loading them into my beer fridge, I realized that I still have a single bomber of Sierra Nevada’s Northern Hemisphere left in my fridge (I think I bought it back in January). I think this would be a great opportunity to do a review on both beers. Of course, since each bottle is 24 ounces – it may have to be over two separate days.

Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere is brewed from hops grown in the southern hemisphere — New Zealand to be exact. I recall my experience with 8 Wired IPA (from New Zealand) the hop quality was definitely different – lemongrass/earthy. Sierra Nevada’s Northern Hemisphere is brewed from hops grown in the northern hemisphere – Yakima Valley in Washington.

The Southern version is “dry-hopped” while the Northern version is “wet-hopped”. The simple difference between wet and dry hopping is that dry hopping is done with hops that have been kiln dried, while wet hops are hops basically right from the vine. Dry hops are concentrated, while wet hops are high in water content and require a larger volume. Each method imparts a different taste/aroma experience. It is said that dry-hopped beers impart a stronger hop aroma, while wet hops impart more complex hop characteristics.

The Southern version’s IBU comes in at 66, while the ABV is 6.7%. The northern version has an IBU of 60 – 65 and has the identical 6.7% ABV.

Northern pours a rich reddish amber with an amazingly thick head. It has a subtly sweet and understated hop aroma. My first couple of sips I get a mellow sweetness from the malt and a fruity/floral hop flavor — orange zest and lemongrass come to mind. It finishes with a mellow bitterness. I guess with all the talk about hops, it would be natural to assume that this might be a hop beast providing a taste bud crushing hop experience. But, this one is quite contrary. It does show off the deep characteristics of the hop. It’s really nicely balanced.

Southern pours a nearly identical reddish amber. The hop aroma is definitely more pronounced – courtesy of the dry-hopping. No sweetness here, i get the grains as biscuits and the hops are more earthy than piney. This one is good as well.

I would have to say I prefer the moderate sweetness of the northern version — I thought the grainy, earthy quality of the southern version paled in comparison. Final score — North 86 points, South 84 points.

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