Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

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10,171 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 10,171
Reviews: 2,938
rAvg: 4.03
pDev: 11.66%
Wants: 218
Gots: 2,012 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 07-05-2001

Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.

37 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 10,171 | Reviews: 2,938
Photo of oracle
2.89/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle servered in a shaker style glass

Beer poured lightish to medium copper with a faint wisp of a head that quickly disappeared altogether.

Smell was faint at best, consisting primarily of hops and pine.

Taste was almost non-existant. Not hoppy enough with a sweet cloying finish.

Ugghhh. Sierra Nevada makes some damn fine beers (Bigfoot is still my all time favorite beer), but I'll pass on this one from now on.

Photo of SportsandJorts
2.9/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Type: on-tap
Glass: pint
From: Casey's Tavern in Ann Arbor
Price: $4.50

Appearance: a slightly dark orangish-red. clear with a small foamy head the faded slowly and left a lacing on the sides

Smell: Spicy hops, florals maybe a touch of citrus.

Taste: a mixture of spicy hops with some floral and citrus undertones. but i definitely get the ever so slight taste of dirty socks

Mouthfeel: pretty light and overly bitter to me

Overall: i am not a huge pale ale guy but i do enjoy them from time to time. this one was just not doing it for me when i wanted a nice refreshing beer. i will most likely revisit this one as it is not hard to come by but until then these are my thoughts on it

Photo of casualbeerman
2.9/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This is a high quality brew from a respected and established craft brewer. So I'm swimming against the tide here. I wouldn't be surprised if I was giving the lowest review currently posted for this particular beer. There are definately people I'd reccomend this for. It is a quality beer with good ingredients and a depth of flavor. But I'm sorry I do not like it.

Appearance- It looked pretty appealing, though I must say its also rather dark. This "pale" is darker than Newcastle Brown (admittedly not a craft brew, but it has the correct color for its style so far as I'm aware). Just by looking at it you can tell its thick. Head is large and very sturdy. I didn't try to float the bottle cap on it, but I'm confident you could do that.

Smell- This was probably the high point of the beer. Its got a really malty punch, and the hop smell is very pleasant. Its got some strong bitter bite in the smell and yes some pine. A tiny bit of citrus/grass as well and some yeast that would probably be quite assertive if the other ingredients weren't so strong.

Taste- This is where the beer started to go south for me. Some of those aspects that made the smell pleasing did not do as much for my tastebuds. The pine aspect of the hops pleased my nose, but not my tastebuds, just like you'd find the scent of a pine tree infinately more pleasant than the taste of pine tar. The malts are once again very assertive: rich, dark, and sweet. But they are probably TOO assertive because the hops required to balance them are too much for me. I have yet appreciate a beer that advertises Cascade hops on the label. I find them more bitter than interesting. The subtle lemon, and even the slightly assertive pine were crowded out by a bitterness that may not have been skunky, but did remind me of grapefruit rind or maybe rubber tires. I'll say it again, bitter does not automatically mean good. I know I'm biassed against really strong bitterness, but when it gets to the point where that one aspect is crowding out all the more subtle flavors from the yeast and hops that make a good beer interesting, then I think the brewer needs to re-adjust their formula. Don't get me wrong, I found some redeeming qualities in the taste, on the balance I did not enjoy this beer very much.
Mouthfeel- Syrupy. That's the best way to describe it. This is a thick beer, and its work to drink it. Just getting through one bottle takes forever, and while it goes ok with food (I washed down a steak with this), it did not quench my thirst well. Even Guiness Draught was more thirst quenching.
Drinkability- The bitter aftertaste wasn't crippling. I did manage to drink two of these in one sitting. But more than that made me feel very full. And I could only drink this slowly because its so thick. And as you might have gathered, the taste didn't send me running back for more.

Conclusion- This is not for me. I think its rather overrated. Though well and carefully made, I think they could have hopped it with something better. I think McSorley's Ale, which is much cheaper, is much better hopped with all sorts of subtle flavors coming through (though its really not that much less bitter, the bitter didn't crowd out the other subtle flavors, so I enjoyed that one anyway). I think the thickness is also kind of excessive. Bear in mind, this isn't billed as an India Pale Ale, or an Extra Bitter, or anything like that. Just a regular Pale Ale. Compare it to Bass, the standard of that type. It's just too thick, dark, and bitter for the type of beer its supposed to be in my opinion. Even though American Pale Ales here are described as "bitter" vs British Pale Ales which are "more balanced" I think this is too much. That said if you want something that's really powerful, really thick, really bitter, and really well made (notwithstanding my own complaints about style and hops) then by all means check this out. It's a manly brew for sure that will put hair on your chest. Me, I think McSorely's Ale is the best American Ale I've tried. Also, be wary of the price if you're not sure whether you like it. It does run you like $7.50 for a sixpack. If you're skeptical, you might want to split it up with some friends (or if you know a good beer bar you can try it there, me I don't recall any place near me that carries this, even in the bottle)

Photo of UncleBart91
2.9/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Golden blonde, like a Swedish goddess. Rich foam. Thick fermentation

Aroma: Crisp Cascade hops, definite pale blend of pine and spice

Taste: Light, yet hoppy with a very crisp aftertaste. Almost on the lighter side of pale ales

Overall: Not my favorite pale ale, but a decent beer. Too crisp for my taste. Very defined aftertaste leaves a very pale aroma. Not bad for a craft brew.

Serving type: Bottle/Pint Glass

Photo of Beaver13
2.91/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The SN Pale Ale pours a bubbly golden orange with a decent white head that has good retention and laces the glass.

Its aroma is malty biscuit with some metallic hops.

The taste is biscuity malts up front with some faint floral hops and then a fairly harsh bitter aftertaste. It is medium bodied with a sticky finish.

Overall, I'm not too impressed. I was expecting more fruity notes to balance the bitterness. I can respect what this beer has done for the microbrewery business, but I've never been able to get into it.

Photo of peabody
2.91/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours out a nice straw/amber color very clear with just a little head with nice lacing.
Smell is orange yeast and fruit with just a slight hint of alcohol.
Taste is a little watery but caramel and grapefruit come through.
Not a bad beer but I need to try some more of Sierra Nevada's brews.

Photo of beertunes
2.91/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into straight pint glass. Poured 1/2 inch of bright, white head that left a medium amount of lacing. Bright, light orange/deep yellow color. Not much malt in the nose, but solid hop presence. Flavor matches aroma closely. The lack of body is noticed right away. Very drinkable, but the flavors becomes unnoticeable quickly. This is a solid go-to beer that never lets you down, but rarely thrills the drinker. I have long maintained that, due to the prominence of hops and lack of malt body, this should be called an IPA, not a pale ale. I seem to be in a very small minority in this view.

Photo of crazybrody06
2.91/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours an average straw color, but the head was white and frothy and lasted a long time.

The smell is pine and hops.

The taste is not great, hops, the pine comes through on the flavor as well but not much else that Im picking up. Not a lot of flavor at all.

The mouthfeel was borderline watery, but not quite.

Overall this beer dissapoints in most categorys although if I had to I could make this a session beer.

Photo of illidurit
2.95/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hey folks have you ever wanted an MGD with a blast of bitter one dimensional hops? Here's your beer.

Looks decent enough. Smells like rind. The malt, instead of light and crisp, tastes bready and doesn't serve to balance the hops. The beer is way overhopped, tasting of acrid pine needles. The bitterness is obnoxious and the beer isn't refreshing or balanced. HORRIBLY overrated, just like everything else from Sierra Nevada.

Photo of Damian
2.96/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Drank on-tap at Sully's Pub, Hartford, CT

Poured a clear, reddish amber with a one-finger pillowy head. Some bits of spotty lacing.

Smell was hardly detectable initially. As the beer warmed, the aroma became somewhat more pronounced. Musty with a touch of citrusy hops in the background.

The taste was somewhat similar to the smell. Not much happening on the front end except maybe a touch of malty sweetness. As the beer moved to the rear of the palate, it became increasingly bitter but lacked the citrusy hop flavor that should have accompanied this. Somewhat grainy and resin-like on the back of the palate. Aftertaste was hoppy and bitter (orange peel was noticeable) and lingered on forever. (This was unquestionably the most impressive part of the beer.)

Mouthfeel was fairly creamy, smooth and full-bodied.

Overall, this beer was a disappointment, as it lacked the flavors and aromas needed to make up for its intense bitterness.

Photo of rickyleepotts
2.96/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

They make this beer sound delicious… but it's really not. I mean, it's a good beer. But it's not a great beer by any means. This is a beer that is for someone that doesn't understand what craft beer is but wants to fit in at a party. Sure, Sierra Nevada makes some good beers. But this is just middle of the road in my opinion. I am impressed that a brewery can have such a hold on the market and that when someone thinks of a "pale ale" he or she generally thinks of Sierra Nevada. Sheryl called this beer, "boring". Can't say I disagree. But I will give this beer my FULL attention this evening.

In the Glass: I am really digging the color. It's a thick, rich golden color and reminds me of an imperial pilsner. I have been hooked on the Odell double pilsner. Tastes better on draft, though. The head is a thin white later on the top of the glass that just sits there begging to be drank. With as much as they produce of this beer, finding it is the easy part.

Nose: The aroma is that of a pale ale… subtle hop character with a simple, yet satisfying appeal. The aroma is nothing to write home about, and if they didn't tell me they used only whole-cone hops in this, I would never have been able to guess.

Flavor: It's been a while since I have had this beer, but it tastes about like what I remember. Initially there isn't much going on, then the hops start to work. It almost reminds me of an early IPA, and as my palate has changed, the expectations of a strong, powerful beer have also changed. Very rarely will you see me order a pale ale. After the subtle IPA overtones, it settles to a typical pale ale finish leading to the somewhat disappointing aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is decent. It has an almost creamy character on the tongue, and shoves some subtle carnation to the top of the mouth. Then you swallow, expecting some of those characteristics to still be there… but they're not. I guess for a beer that costs a buck a bottle, you can't expect much in terms of complexity.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is nice, and while it sticks around for a few minutes, it dwindles from the second you swallow. It isn't as bitter as the book explains, but it's present reminding you that you are drinking a mouthful of hops.

This beer is decent at best. Since starting at Total Wine, I have been meeting a lot of people. Some are REALLY into craft beer, and others just want to get drunk on a Saturday night. This beer would be a good beer to introduce someone to that isn't into craft beer, but wants to understand what a hoppy, bitter beer tastes like. Sierra Nevada is a good brewery, but they have never released anything I feel was spectacular.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - The bottle says: "Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a completely natural ale. There are no additives, only the finest malted barley, whole hops, brewer's yeast, and crystal-clear water. The fine layer of yeast in each bottle is a result of the traditional bottle-conditioning process that produces carbonation naturally."

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
2.96/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled this on-tap at the brewery this past Thursday (09-03-2009). For those that don't know, every Thursday is cask night at the brewery. Following review written from notes.

Appearance: Two fingers of dense white head sit atop a hazy caramel body. When held to light, shimmers of yellow-orange appear around the edges. No apparent carbonation. Head retention is shorter than expected - quickly settles as a mere crown. Thick spotty lace.

Smell: Wow, lame. Hops have completely fallen out of this one. I get estery alcohol and toasted malt - that's all. This would hardly cut it as an English bitter. Boring.

Taste: Toasted malt and wood, with mild hoppy flavors in the finish. The bitterness and crispness are gone. The hops still affect the flavor profile and consistency, making the beer mildly piney, citrusy, and oily. Finishes grainy and grassy - a touch sour, a touch bitter.

Mouthfeel: There was actually more carbonation to this cask ale than I expected, which was kinda nice. Malty, chewy, light, and clean. The aftertaste is mild and centered around the barley.

Drinkability: I was pretty let down by this one. I was hoping that this cask conditioned SNPA would showcase the beer's malt profile; and while it did bring the malt side into the spotlight, I feel like this beer's shortcomings were just exposed. I didn't have a problem drinking this, but given my time constraints that night this felt like a waste. Oh well, now I know.

Photo of ElGuapo
2.97/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

drank a few at work on a hot summer day with the wind at my back and the sun in my face. it was a special day, and this was not quite a special beer. i am not a huge fan of pale ales, but it was pretty good. i won't be a return customer, but it was good for a day

Photo of tealeaf
2.97/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

well i have tried this beer on two occasions only, and both times i was not impressed. maybe it is because i am not a big pale ale fan.

Its a nice rustic gold, amber color.

i picked up alot of hops in the smell, there may have been a little hint of citrus in there too. i actually really liked the smell of this beer.

the taste is what throws me off.
the hops sort of punch out in the beginning and theres an after taste of more hops with a little bit of fruitiness, to me at least.

like it may be because i am not a big fan of pale ale even though there is a few i enjoy.

for me this beer was bearable for about half a glass and after that i had to struggle to drink it.

Photo of mcgwire756
2.98/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner glass.

I have had this beer on multiple occasions and finally decided to review it.

Pours a golden yellow/orange with a large 3 finger head. Lacing is ok, but honestly this looks like almost any beer similar to this. No really stong smells but what is there is a bready malt with a little bit of pine. The taste is more bready malt at first, but after a while it just overbears your taste buds and it becomes a very bland malt beer. The mouthfeel is too prickly for more liking, and really brings down the drinkability after a while. It is ok for what it is, but not a great craft beer in my opinion.

Photo of apbarwood
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bright, brownish-gold color with a small pure-white head. Retention is lacking with only the finest amount of lace. It takes a pretty aggressive pour to get some head. Aromas are faint but pleasant nonetheless. Ditto that on the flavor. You get what you'd expect basically but in small amounts with a good balance between fruit bitterness and pine with some herbal hop notes and just enough malt to hold everything together. The body is mediumish and the feel is slightly undercarbonated. The thing that this beer has going for it is that it's balanced exceptionally well, but it isn't going to knock anyone's socks off. I really wanted more out of it particularly from the hops. This is definitely brewed with the larger market in mind. That being said, it's not bad, there's nothing offensive about this beer at all and I think it's a good training wheel pale ale but fans of more flavorful styles of pales will be well suited to look elsewhere.

Photo of ryguy31
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3

not bad as a pale ale

Photo of Ragingbull
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is another one that I would put on the "tough to review" list because of its familiarity. I had been drinking this long before a wide variety of microbrews became available likely due its wide distribution. Here is my attempt.

Rich roasted gold color with light head and some prickle. Mildly hoppy nose. Hops forward flavor and almost a hoppy attack. I am guessing the nose affects the initial attack as the smells from the glass impact the flavor. It stays hoppy through the finish but in a mild way. The aftertaste allows the hops to fade with a bubbly mouthfeel that dries and vanishes. My wife offered the comment that the aftertaste made her feel as if she had just licked an envelope. This beer is certainly one to throw in the cooler for a backyard BBQ, but it isn't likely one that I will keep on hand in my beer fridge. I think that I find myself lumping into the "old standards" by which everything else is judged and would have to call it average for that very purpose. There are going to be better beers and far worse beers. If you have nothing else to choose from you won't be disappointed, but if there is something else on the menu you haven't tried its probably worth trying the new beer.

Photo of DownSouthGeorgiaBrew
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

World Class....Well, not in my world. LOOK: Honey colored with 1inch of bubble bath-like foam, and there was decent lacing. Smell: very mellow aroma of hops and piney. Taste: A malt presence up front, followed by a very mild hops and mellow bitterness. Feel: Mild carbonation and smooth...very drinkable. Overall, it was ok.

Photo of winningwes91
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh. Another middle of the road pale

Photo of blameo
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

not bad, but nothing special. too plain.

Photo of Trex
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not my cup of tea.

Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The flagship for the style, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Pour is a copper color with a quick showing of a head that settles down into a collar. translucent.
Aroma has some grains and cereal malts with cascade style hops. The flavors of 'Merica. Some citrus gives some brightness to this ale and the malts keep it about perfectly balanced.
Mouthfeel is crisp enough to meet my desires.

This is the base that all other pale ales get judged to.

Photo of escapements
3.02/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A=Nice color. Looks like beer, nothing special.

T=Hoppy as a pale ale should be (however, not my favorite), citrus & pine. Slight bitterness with a clean finish. Only slightly malt, could use more. Slight alcohol taste.

S=Citrus & hops

M=Smooth & dry which makes you want another sip

D=Not a bad overall beer, but lacks any outstanding qualities.

Photo of ZachMcGinn
3.03/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Golden amber color. Very little head. Aroma brings out pine needles and caramel. Heavy hops makes for a bitter flavor and biting after taste. Sierra Nevada Pale ale has long been one of America's favorite pale ales. As someone who does not like IPA's, this one is bearable.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 10,171 ratings.