The Sierra Nevada 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale pours from its 12oz bottle, displaying the brewery’s meticulous packaging date, which reads “11/27/19” on my bottle, indicating it’s about six weeks old. In the glass, it boasts a clear orange-gold hue, crowned by a frothy buttermilk head that lingers remarkably for nearly five minutes. There’s a hint of turbidity when pouring the last of the beer, suggesting some bottle conditioning.


Elevating the glass to the nose, the 40th Anniversary Ale bursts forth with a vibrant blend of citrusy and floral hops. Notes of rose and lavender intermingle with zesty tangerine peel, creating an aromatic symphony. Subtle undertones of pound cake and orange rum cake add malt complexity to the bouquet, marking a deviation from Sierra Nevada’s classic SNPA and Torpedo Extra IPA.


The flavor profile of the 40th Anniversary Ale sets it apart from Sierra Nevada’s iconic brews. It veers away from excessive sweetness and a heavy body, opting for a distinct bitterness dominated by floral and citrusy hops, rather than the traditional piney or woodsy notes. It maintains an air of delicacy and ease of consumption, owing to its reduced body. Bitter elements of rose, lemon rind, tangerine, and perfume oils take center stage. The trademark “estate grain” flavor from Sierra Nevada adds a touch of rustic grit, although any silkiness provided by the oats seems subtly woven into the background.


With less sweetness and body than its SNPA and Torpedo Extra IPA counterparts, the 40th Anniversary Ale offers a notably drier and easier-drinking experience. Its bitterness, at times, borders on sharpness, complementing its relative dryness. However, it doesn’t quite capture the essence of an old-school or throwback IPA.


Sierra Nevada’s 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale cleverly combines modern IPA trends, such as oat additions and reduced caramel malt, with the historical and now underutilized Cluster hop varietal. It distinguishes itself through its lighter sweetness and body, resulting in a more approachable brew with a penchant for sharp bitterness. While it doesn’t wholly embody the spirit of a true old-school IPA, it’s a unique addition to Sierra Nevada’s repertoire.

However, it’s slightly disappointing that Sierra Nevada didn’t craft something truly remarkable for their 40th Anniversary IPA, considering their legacy and the potential for revisiting older beer recipes. For those seeking a genuine throwback experience, I’d recommend checking out Sierra Nevada’s winter seasonal, the Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.

Similar Beers

The Sierra Nevada 40th Hoppy Anniversary Ale deviates significantly from the typical mainstream IPAs and even Sierra Nevada’s own renowned recipes. Its utilization of Cluster hops, a rarity in today’s beer landscape, gives it a distinctive aroma and flavor profile that sets it apart.