Tapping the Keg: Sierra Nevada Tumbler brown ale is your perfect fall beer

“Tapping the Keg” is a weekly review of craft beers brought to you by campus correspondent Dan Wood.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler brown ale combines strong hints of roasted malts and crisp hops for a "not too sweet, not too sour" flavor, writes Dan Wood in his review of the beer. (Christer Edvartsen/Flickr Creative Commons)

Sierra Nevada Tumbler brown ale combines strong hints of roasted malts and crisp hops for a "not too sweet, not too sour" flavor, writes Dan Wood in his review of the beer. (Christer Edvartsen/Flickr Creative Commons)

Sierra Nevada has been one of the most well known craft breweries since its debut beer, pale ale, hit the markets in the early 80s. Based out of the Sierra Nevada and with only a little start up money, the company distributed the beer in the early 1980s, struggling with financial and marketing problems.

A 1982 article in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting the brewery, as well as selling the beer in prominent restaurants such as Berkeley's Chez Panisse, helped establish a market for Sierra Nevada's beer. Now the pale ale is the second best selling craft beer in the U.S., and the company makes about $200M in annual sales.

With a big name slapped across the bottle, most drinkers have high expectations for limited-time seasonal brews from this company. Tumbler brown ale has all the classic designs that you would expect from a Sierra Nevada brew: the label almost blends into the amber bottle, with little accents of fall leaves scattered about the label. This beer is definitely perfect for autumn.

Brown ales are an interesting middle ground to many different styles, and I think they are generally under-produced and underappreciated. Typically, brown ales are not too sour, alcoholic or off-putting to newer drinkers, and Tumbler fits the bill right at 5.5% ABV.

The nose of the beer is nothing special. Very typical for common brown ales, it gives strong hints of dark roasted malts and a slight hint of crisp hops. Out of the bottle, this beer has very nice fine carbonation and a deep red brown color. A mild head retention of creamy foam makes for a very enticing beer. The top is very friendly, with a nutty beginning and notes of hardwood smoke. This then fades into a light body tasting of toast, caramel and smooth malt. The finish is extremely smooth as well, with notes of rainy leaves followed by an ever-so-slight bit of sour hops.

The balanced, yet mild, flavor of this brown ale makes it extremely easy to drink and versatile in terms of pairing. Tumbler is not too sweet and not too sour, but still has a very unique flavor to it. Smoked meats, sharp dry aged cheeses and sourdough would be great to snack on while sipping this fall classic. This brown ale would also be good for beer batters on say, onion rings, or white fish! It would also be great with roasted poultry, whether it’s a chicken or the big turkey this year, Tumbler is sure to please.

This beer is available locally as part of Sierra Nevada’s fall sampler 12 pack at Price Chopper for around $17.

Overall Rating 7/10


Dan Wood is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.