The West

The Lip - Sierra Nevada s safe hands
Sierra Nevada's Steve Grossman at the International Beer Shop in Perth.

Long-time beer drinker and The Sip editor Ross Lewis casts his eye over the kegs from here and abroad.

No sooner had Steve Grossman started describing Sierra Nevada’s latest offerings and the same question was fired at him.

How did the beer travel?

It is a common question for drinkers on the west coast of Australia. The tyranny of distance means beverages have to be treated with kindness when shipped to WA. The process is even more complicated when the kegs and bottles have to come from the United States.

But Grossman, who spends much of year serving as Sierra Nevada’s world ambassador, is happy to answer the query.

“Our beers are refridgerated the whole way,” Grossman said. “We ship into Perth so the containers are designed to ensure the beer is as fresh as it can be.”

The care is one of the reasons why Sandgropers have a strong relationship with Sierra Nevada, despite the premiums paid for some of the US’ leading brews.

Grossman, whose brother Ken started Sierra Nevada in 1980, was in Australia to talk about a new range of kegs – Snow Wit, a seven-hop IPA with a Belgian twist, Nooner, a sessionable IPA and the seasonal Southern Hemisphere Harvest.

However, he was keen to talk up a local drop.

“I’ve drunk a bit (Feral’s) Hop Hog in my times here,” Grossman said. “I have no doubt that could work in the US.

“The tough task is to get it there.”

Maybe Sierra Nevada can pass on some tips about transport.

However, Grossman has some concerns about the future of the American beer market.

He believes that “more than 3000 breweries” are too many and that a contraction is inevitable.

“The market will sort it out. It will take three to four years but it will be sorted out,” Grossman said.

“But people are tipping that our craft beer market in the US will hit 15 per cent in the next five years.

“It will need to grow at that rate to support all the breweries. If it doesn’t those that aren’t doing as good as they should will go.

“Everyone thinks they can start a brewery and make a good beer. They might make a good batch but they can’t be consistent.”

It has been that consistency that has allowed Sierra Nevada to stand the test of almost 35 years in the industry.

It was a strong beer week in Perth with Bridge Road Brewers mastermind Ben Kraus also in town to check on the WA operation.

Unfortunately, Kraus was hit by the flu but battled on to meet drinkers at the Five Bar in Mt Lawley.

Kraus, who has brewed a great variety of beers, is celebrating the release of a couple of Pilsners.

A Chesnut Pilsner and Enigma Pilsener, who is a light-bodied lager heavily hopped with local Enigma cones.

It is expected to have light floral notes and distinct berry/ black forest flavour.

The West Australian

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