As for this year's Sierra Nevada entry, it is baffling to me. Not only not at all German, it isn't even in the general American style. But I suppose very SN. Gobs of crystal malt, hardly very drinkable, but with a hop character that just doesn't balance at all. I am shocked that Bitburger allowed their name to be attached to it. Their only contribution was some of their contract grown hops, no input on formulation. That was not the impression I had with this year's version. Perhaps your sample was oxidized?
You are drinking a different beer than me. The one's I have are dry. Almost bone dry. And slightly more bitter than I expect. I rather like it!
It is 11% C60, and to me tastes like it. Very SN, not very German. It's very good for what it is, and I'm sure it appeals to the craft beer aficionado far more than a German beer would. We'll just have to disagree. I like German beer, and I'm not very big on most craft beer.
I notice that in Beer Advocate's poll of the top 100 no German Fests did very well. Weihenstephan came in no. 74, and a little below it Hofbrauhaus Freising, the two best I've had this year. Sierra Nevada is no. 13. The only German beers that did well are Märzens (mostly aimed at the export market,) and some of the heartier (more caramel character) ones at that. Just shows that the American craft beer drinker's palate is radically different from the traditional German palate.
So back on topic, if you are trying to clone an American beer, using German yeast, malt and hops will probably be the wrong approach. After all, the OP specifically wondered about German yeast. I'm suggesting that's on the right track. Just like you wouldn't use Yorkshire ale yeast in West Coast IPA.