Sierra Nevada's fall sampler -- all hits, no misses

Legendary brewery Sierra Nevada delivers four solid hits in its fall sampler pack

Sierra Nevada Brewing’s fall variety 12-pack mixes old favorite ales with new-look lagers for a variety tailored for autumn. And there's not a miss in the bunch.

Remember those breakfast-cereal variety packs -- the ones that mixed single-serving boxes of Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks? They always seemed to include one brand that nobody in the house liked, and while everyone was fighting over who got the Cocoa Puffs, boxes of the plain Cheerios would start to accumulate in the back of the cupboard. The craft beer mixed 12-packs often suffer the same fate, but the new autumn release from Sierra Nevada is a rare example that contains only winners. It’s also the only place to get three of the four brews.

Let’s break down what makes this pack so great.

First up you’ve got the fan-favorite and longtime autumn seasonal Tumbler. Last fall, the hoppy American brown ale was supplanted as the brewery’s seasonal release by the Flipside Red IPA, and the brewery got an earful from Tumbler-lovers lamenting the beer’s demise. Sierra Nevada listened and brought the brew back exclusively in this mix-pack.

Next, there are two new lagers from the Chico brewery: a Vienna Lager and an Oktoberfest. These two styles are closely related, and the Vienna lager is a rare bird in the craft beer world. The amber lagers both are well-balanced between sweet caramel malts and floral hops. The Vienna gets a bit more hop character, while the Oktoberfest is richer and denser. Both styles are well-executed, and they are versatile brews at tailgates or the dinner table.

Rounding out the variety of styles is, instead of the ugly duckling beer you might expect from a variety pack, the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The ubiquitous green-label flagship from America’s second-largest craft brewery has been one of the best craft beers in the world for more than 30 years, and it holds up even in today’s crowded craft market.

When you’re constantly barraged by new beer releases from new breweries, it’s all too easy to forget just how  -- yeah, I’ll say it -- perfect Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is, but there’s three bottles in this fall variety pack to remind you.

That’s two ales and two lagers that showcase the brewery’s range from classic German brewing traditions to iconoclastic American craft originals -- and no duds. The 12-packs are now available at bottle shops and grocery stores for around $15.

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