Let's start off "California Brews" week with another something special (so rare, in fact, that it isn't available outside the city where it's brewed) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Sierra Nevada has a sub-brand, "Old Chico", that is brewed exclusively for the city of Chico, both as a way of giving the community what they want and paying homage to the "think regional" philosophy they live by. I was fortunate enough to get exposed to Sierra Nevada's Old Chico Crystal Wheat last year, and the always gracious Crystal donated one of her bottles to the 365 Days of Beer cause...
Sierra Nevada Old Chico Crystal Wheat poured a crystal-clear (pun assumed) bright yellow into the glass with a sparse white head. The nose was surprisingly pine-centric for a wheat beer, but there were unmistakable, Hefeweisen-like wheat notes.
Old Chico Crystal Wheat drank big and bright up front, capturing the mouth feel of big hops without being piney or citrusy and certainly not bitter. The big front faded into a lemon tinged biscuit flavor with some grassy aftertaste.
This beer is surprisingly hopped and clear for a wheat beer, but maintains the fundamental character of the wheat varietals. Highly drinkable, very refreshing... this is a perfect beer for a hot summer day.