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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

7,339 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7339
Reviews: 2623
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 11.6%

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

37 IBU

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 07-05-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,339 | Reviews: 2,623 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of beertunes


2.93/5  rDev -27.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2009 21:55:58 | More by beertunes
Photo of Dogbrick


3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the draught version at California Pizza Kitchen. Considering how widely available this beer is I'm surprised it took me this long to try it. Not the best APA I have had but still better than average. Good bitter hops flavor and somewhat dry. It is nice to know there are actually decent beers at the grocery store.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2002 09:32:42 | More by Dogbrick
Photo of thagr81us

South Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer that started it all for me... Served from tap into a sampler shaker. Poured yellow-orange with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, pine, and pine hops. The flavor was of sweet malt, pine, pine hops, and nutmeg on the followthrough. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall as I said before, this was my gateway drug. My palate is a lot different now than it was. This brew wasn't overly great, but I can see why I started out drinking this. The flavor on this one was quite nice, it is just that the nutmeg I got on the followthrough is in no-way-shape-or-form one of my favorites. Still one of the easiest to find and better tasting Pale Ales out there in my opinion.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2011 18:54:58 | More by thagr81us
Photo of kylehay2004


3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I know many of us are beer "fanatics" but something is to be said of beers that can both please the Bud Light drinkers and the Beer snobs. This beer is not the best in its category but it is a staple amongst beer drinkers and is as good bottled as on draft which is not always the case. It has an initial sharp flavor that fades quickly so as too not be overly offensive. A solid overall beer.

Serving type: on-tap

06-24-2011 00:48:26 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of OWSLEY069


4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clean orange-ish color with yellow hints and a light tan head. In the aroma, mellow pine hops and a gingerbread sweet malt. In the taste, same as the aroma, a bit more abrasive on the hops, but backed nicely with sweet malt. A small bite and medium to light bodied mouthfel, with a small dry, hoppy aftertaste. A bigger hop for a pale, but basic and good.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 14:19:34 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of tavernjef


3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This a standard pale that gets alot of praise and comparison. I was impressed with it, but I have to go with a paler pale for this style. This was a little to hoppy, but overall this is a great taster. Good balanced fresh hops with a bit of citrus and finishes dry and piney. This was actually hard to pin down as far as taste for me due to the finish happened to fast and I was feeling and wanting more. I still thought it was good but something was missing for me on the overall taste. Malt was present. Color was fine for a pale, kinda coppery yellow, with a nice floral aroma with good strong hop presence. I almost liked the smell more then the taste by just a bit. Solid pale, I can see why alot of folks like this stuff. This is a drinkable pale, very good, but needed something for me to really enjoy it fully. I kept a puzzled look on my face after every sip. Why? I'm not sure. Good to great, but not awesome.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2003 10:12:31 | More by tavernjef
Photo of Cyberkedi


4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very pleasant beer. Color is an absolutely gorgeous golden amber that promises an excellent brew. Aroma is hoppy and pleasant. Flavor is hoppy with some bitterness, not much on complexity but nice. Smooth and tingly, it works by itself or as an accompaniment to a meal. Recommended.

Serving type: on-tap

03-17-2007 18:47:35 | More by Cyberkedi
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

3.78/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a clear texture. There was a decent amount of foamy head and OK lacing.

S: Had a fruity, malty aroma.

T: Tasted of citrus, malt and hops (a little hoppier than you'd expect from a pale ale, but it still had a nice flavor).

M: A decent amount of carbonation with a very dry finish. Light-bodied.

D: One of the more drinkable mass-produced beers out there. Goes down easy and has a decent taste.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2009 12:42:26 | More by avalon07
Photo of Bitterbill


4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one has escaped my review radar for long enough! ;^)

It pours from 12oz bottle a slightly hazy gold with a good 2 finger head of foam from the initial pour and it stays for the entire session as a solid 1" layer. Good lacing to be had here as well.

The smell is hop dominant to the nose but it's fairly light.

The taste is hoppy with a mild bitterness of grapefruit and a touch of grass. I can just taste some malt, especially when I swish the beer in my mouth, but it's just there to cut through the hops a bit...not really to balance it as hop is king in this very tasty APA that I've enjoyed for many many years. This was actually one of my main gateway beers bridging the past of light tasting, oh so similar tasting brews to the present, where you can pretty much sample flavours all over the spectrum. And....after all these years, it does more than hold its own. This is a *classic* and rightfully so.

The mouthfeel is medium as is the carbonation and it finishes dry and has a nice bitter aftertaste that lingers on for some time. *Still* one of my favourites of the style and one I frequent often. It is that good.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2007 20:18:41 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of largadeer


3.43/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Slightly hazy amber, good color and head retention.

Smell: Hoppy, floral, a touch of pine and citrus. A metallic character is also noticeable.

Taste & texture: Very bready malt, earthy and metallic, lots of pine in the hops. The malt character of this beer has never impressed me much, though the cascade hops give it a nice finish. I think I'd enjoy it a lot more with a stronger hop presence. The mouthfeel is fine; a bit creamy but not particularly heavy, medium-bodied and moderately carbonated.

Drinkability: While this seems to be the session beer of choice for a lot of people, I personally find it difficult to drink more than a couple of these. I get very sick of the malt flavor after a while.

Notes: This beer is a staple of craft brewing, probably the single most common craft beer you'll find on the west coast. It's a solid pale ale, nothing incredible and a bit overrated in my opinioin, but nonetheless a good representation of the style and a decent gateway into craft beer.

Serving type: on-tap

06-26-2007 17:58:29 | More by largadeer
Photo of twiggamortis420


4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wanted to see if the 24oz bottle tasted any different than it's little bro. Poured into a Yeti snifter glass a clear copper color with great lacing and retention.

Light, citrisy hop aroma. Smells fresh. Delicate bready malts present as well. Has everything you should smell in an APA, nothing you dont.

Taste falls on the hoppy side of life. More floral than citrus. Light, crisp and smooth. I get the feeling the water they use is really tasty with just enough minerals. Yum.

Pretty amazing how SN can brew so much of this and keep the quality this high. Prost!

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2008 04:41:53 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of BeerFMAndy


4.63/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada Imperial Pint.
5.6% ABV, 09099 - (April 8th).

A - Very slightly hazed with fine particles, constant carbonation flows up from the etched hop nucleation point to the huge three-finger egg-shell colored, densely packed head. The beer itself is a deep goldenrod color. Overall appearance is near unbeatable as the well-formed head diminishes slowly leaving lacing all over the glass.

S - Crisp floral hop aroma that has a touch of spiciness - a bit of pepper perhaps - with a solid sweet honey and pale malt base. Crisp and light but sweet and robust. Very well balanced.

T - The hops impart a citrusy, pine flavor that lingers for quite a while. While the hops are the obvious showcase for this beer, the malt base does a good job of supporting the hop flavor and bitterness. The background has a lightly sweet touch of honey aspect to it.

M - Crisp and citrusy right away, the malt base comes in to round it out to a medium body but the hops finish out dry and moderately bitter. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is very refreshing.

O - This is an incredibly crafted Pale Ale with great drinkability - it's one of the superior examples of the style available and a classic. Bottom line, it should be tried by all.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2012 22:35:44 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of RoyalT


4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Nice, light orange body with an OK head.

Smell – Sensuous hops aroma consistant with the style and the very slightest hint of pine tells us that this one is serious.

Taste – It tastes like a lot of different hops in there. I get a little citrus, but not quite like an orange, and a lemon without the sourness (if that makes any sense). Some hops seem to have a strong floral taste, whereas others are a little bit more crisp. This is a hop-lover’s delight.

Mouthfeel – This feels great in the mouth. The carbonation is small, of course. The brew has a consistancy that just glides along the cheeks and gums. Nice job, SN.

Drinkability – This one has it all. It’s complex yet purposeful. There is an abundance of flavors in there, yet we know right away that it’s an American Pale Ale. In fact, this one would be a great reference taste for other pale ales.

Comments – I have been very impressed with the offerings from this brewery thus far (this is my fourth SN review).

Update – I first reviewed this beer the same month that I joined the site, so I thought it would be fun to revisit it with the 2004 vintage now that I have 1,000+ reviews under my belt.

This really is an understated but incredible Pale Ale. The nose is big on the hops and very complex, but the taste is expertly balanced. It’s everything good in a mild sort of way. I think this is the most often named beer when folks ask the perennial BA question in the forum, “What’s the best beer to introduce a macro drinker to craft beers.” I’m upping my Drinkability rating from 4.0 to 5.0 while bowing in the general direction of Chico, CA.

Update – I had a few bottles of 2006 and thought it was grainier since I last remember. It is a terrific beer but just seemed so ordinary this time around. It’s a definite 4.0 across the board at this point.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2003 02:37:12 | More by RoyalT
Photo of GarthDanielson

North Carolina

4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is an orange-copper coloring with a thin, filmy, sparse white coating on the surface. Aromas of citrus sweet and herbal spicing on a roasty, caramel backbone. The beer is smooth and crisp in mouth, thanks to the carbonation and the hops bitterness. Flavors are roasted caramel and a touch of smoke in the backbone, supporting a resiny, bitter hops profile that highlights alongside a citrus blend of lemon and grapefruit. Very well balanced, with a bitter, slightly drying aftertaste that again showcases some of the herbal highlights. Smooth, drying finish with some of the bitter and spice left to linger until the next sip. As I said of the former Draught Style, this brew is a staple of the APA style. Very tasty, and very sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2012 00:25:42 | More by GarthDanielson
Photo of DrDemento456


3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Can you believe after 1400 beers I haven't had this one yet? Facepalm!

A - A nice hard pour scored me a 1/2 inch of sticky white head. Lacing is pretty nice. Color is a bright orange yellow tint.

S - Nothing offensive good amount of citrus hops twang with a decent pale malt profile.

T - Well I could see why Daisy Cutter is the new edge pale this one is somewhat boring with mild piney hops (they do stick to the palate for quite a bit) then malts.

M - Goes down easy enough. It's more drinkable than Daisy cutter with more ABV. Plus hella cheaper.

Overall I was going to bash the guy below for giving this a lower score but it's kind of true. It's a beginner IPA that plays off like a pale ale. Damn tasty regardless.

Serving type: can

12-17-2012 01:13:38 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of ZAP


4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

You can't go wrong with this brew...a highly drinkable, yet flavorful pale ale.

The aroma is decidedly floral with some mild spiciness....the taste includes some of those same characteristics but whatalso emerges is a subtle sweeter style citrus hop flavor....think mandarin oranges or ripe clementines..clean and crisp drinker...just the right malt balance...

Not as "big" in assertiveness as some others....I really enjoy Summit Extra Pale Ale and would probably rate that a little higher but it's kind of like comparing apples to oranges...the Summit is a little more aggressive...this is softer and sweeter...both are very tasty...

Highly recommended for the style...

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2008 05:43:09 | More by ZAP
Photo of gford217


3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a clear golden amber with a small white fluffy head that dissipates quickly to a ring leaving only a little lacing. The aroma is big on citrus hops with grapefruit up front and a hint of pine in the background. The taste starts with a big citrus hop bite up front before giving way to the malt backbone. There is a little pine bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is fresh and clean with good carbonation but a tad light for my liking. This is certainly one of the best mainstream beers out there and one that I order frequently when there's not a lot else available. Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

08-25-2008 02:37:38 | More by gford217
Photo of tone77


3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a dark golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is dominated by hops. Taste is hops, some bitterness, a bit of malts at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall I tried this before and was unimpressed but now I found it to be a pretty good beer.

Serving type: can

08-17-2009 20:07:20 | More by tone77
Photo of flagmantho


3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich but light orange color with two fingers of ivory head. Nice lacing as the head dissipates.

Smell: nice collection of hop aromas. I get earthy, herby, a little citrusy and a little funky. A very nice balance; I like it.

Taste: smooth flavor if a little on the hoppy-bitter side. Malt is slightly sweet and caramel-flavored; hops tend more toward the earthy, funky and floral in the flavor than was the case in the aroma. Bitterness is quite high. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good level of carbonation for the style. It works, though it doesn't blow me away.

Drinkability: pretty drinkable. Tried this out at band practice last week and it seemed to go down pretty well. It is probably even better with a burger outdoors in the summer.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2010 04:59:12 | More by flagmantho
Photo of bark


3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The colour is brown-copper-red. The liquid is a bit cloudy, as the beer is bottle fermented. The pale yellow foam quickly dissolves into thin air.

The smell is very nice with a dominating sourish note. But there are also some fragrances like coffee, diacetyl, white bread and aroma hops.

The carbonation is quite strong, but not sharp.

The taste starts off with a mild malty taste, but that is soon replaced with a growing, fruity bitterness. The body is liberal with notes of bread, herbs and diacetyl. The finish and aftertaste is a mixture of mild hops (cascade?) and a sweet-sour note that reminds me of lemon curd.

A nice “micro” pale ale from a not-so-micro American brewer. On the whole, one may call this a nice beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2004 21:24:40 | More by bark
Photo of TheLongBeachBum


4.13/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It has been warm today in Long Beach, and I found that by 6pm, I had imbibationally destroyed 50% of the Six Pack I bought a while ago. A solidly great drinking Pale Ale, and whilst I lived in UK, this was considered by many Limeys to be the best exponent of the APA style. As I worked my way through the bottles, I was amazed that I kept "finding" additional facets to this beer the more I drank it. I think its beauty is the way it can seem so simple, but yet retain such complexity under closer scrutiny, so much so that I find myself struggling to explain my tasting to be honest. On one front is a solid thirst quenching hoppy beer that has a lovely fruity hop-oil aroma with a lingering bitter finish. But in other dimensions, the more I concentrate it has a malty light biscuity oatmeal taste that really complements a citric hoppy bitter finish. A Marvellous Quaffable Beer, considered a standard fall-back beer in most bars in CA - but much, much more complex than people realize IMHO. Fantastic!!!!.
Hmm. Those remaining 3 bottles look really lonely.......

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2002 20:16:48 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of jrallen34


3.5/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this from the bottle into a chalice.

The beer pours a dark gold, almost orange with a decent white head that stays for awhile. There is good lacing.

It smells light and hoppy with a tad bit of citrus.

This taste like your typical pale ale, light, hops and citrus with a bitter end.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2009 17:53:20 | More by jrallen34
Photo of dgilks


4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pale amber colour with a small white head. Moderately poor head retention. Clear.

Moderate floral, citrus hop aroma. Moderately-low malt profile. Clean and crisp.

Moderately-low hop flavour with a solid, biscuity malt backbone with hints of caramel. While there is substantial bitterness this is a very balanced APA with lots of malt to hold it up. Medium-dry finish.

Medium body with moderately-high carbonation. Fairly smooth.

A quintessential APA. While it is maltier than expected it ticks all the boxes even if it isn't spectacular. It could have more hop aroma and flavour to help carry the beer to greater heights.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2010 09:48:18 | More by dgilks
Photo of cokes


3.25/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Obviously, an archetype for most APA's.
Pours a yeast-filled golden amber. Thinnish white head with some stick.
Nose is inviting with floral and citric notes. Malt is noticed with some faintly carmel/bready aromas.
Hops jump forward in the taste dept. But not in a huge way. Maltiness provides some support by adding bready and biscuity hues along with some faint nondescript sweetness. Yeast pops ups here and there with some unwelcome mustiness.
Decent in the mouth. Creamy, and smooth. Medium bodied.
A good standby, as it is available almost everywhere. But there are much better APAs out there.

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2002 20:52:42 | More by cokes
Photo of nickfl


4.05/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Two finger white head with good retention and lace. Copper body with excellent clarity.

S - Spicy hop aroma with restrained grapefruit aromas and a hint of orange. Some malt, but the aroma is dominated by hops.

T - Moderately spicy hop flavor up front with caramel and biscuit malt balancing in the middle. The finish is moderately bitter and smooth.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish with just a bit of astringency.

D - Quite drinkable. The malt character is a bit weak, but it is more than made up for by the excellent hop character, especially in the aroma.

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2008 03:24:58 | More by nickfl
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 7,339 ratings.