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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,732 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8,732
Reviews: 2,692
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 11.63%
Wants: 133
Gots: 917 | 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:
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: 8,732 | Reviews: 2,692 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of TheBrewo
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We pour a brew of deep gold. It holds a one and a half finger head of crisp, tight white bubbles, showing nice retention. Sheets and patterns of lacing are left as it goes, with a thick film left across the top of the liquid. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be active. The aroma gives pale, lightly wheaty, and metallic adjuncty malts alongside citric and sweetly nectary hops. Vanilla sweetness, raw honey, toast, faint pine cone earthiness, and turkey meatiness come out with warmth. Our first impression is that the flavoring is nicely hopped, with a hearty and classically “pale ale” base. As we sip, lemon zest, sweaty pale malts, soured adjuncts, baker’s yeast, gingerbread sweetness, and orangey citric hop sugars start things off. The middle peaks with pale muddiness, coriander and cinnamon depth, German lager malts, green grassiness, and mossy tree bark. The finishing wash shows mineral water, gravel, spicy earthy hops, white sugars, continued grassy hops, sesame seediness, and a revival of bitterly drying pale malts. The aftertaste breathes of lightly wet wheatiness, grassy and citric rind hoppiness, flashes of white sugars, red cherry skins, sweaty saltiness, and adjuncty coin. The body is medium, and carbonation is light to medium. The mouths is cooled and coated with an oily film. This eventually dries into a softer astringency. Each sip gives okay slurp and smack, with lesser froth or cream. The abv is appropriate, and the beer glugs easily.

Overall, what we liked best about this beer was its drinkability. This guy is a staple for the style, as well as for the craft beer revolution as we know it. The hops are robust and biting, while the aroma is decently fresh, mildly warming, and inviting. The flavor retains its strength with each sip, and invigorates the palate with its blend. This is a classic sipping beer, and something every beer enthusiast should be familiar with.

TheBrewo, May 02, 2013
Photo of BeerKangaroo
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a pint glass:

A: golden yellow colored body with a slight copper color; it has a decent white head that didn't last too long

S: hops and some caramel, some light malts

T: bitter through the hops, malts plant their presence to help balance very nicely

M: medium, sessionable, creamy, bitter aftertaste and finish

O: this is good for the style and good for me

BeerKangaroo, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of enjambed
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving Type: Bottle Poured into glass. I thought I would try it at room temperature for something different. (Although it was very good as always, I would recommend it moderately chilled to 40-45 F)

Appearance: A moderate to hefty pour produces a one finger, soapy white head with lively carbonation and decent retention that settles down to a small cap. Good lacing as well, but I'm not that serious about these kinds of things. Color is a nice copper-orange hue standard for a pale ale.

Smell: Sweet malts, with some citrus hops, floral and a bit of pine. Overall, what you would expect in a cascade-based pale ale, but it's executed very well. Normally I can get more out of this beer, but my smell isn't as sensitive today.

Taste: My taste is not so sharp right now either, but I'll give it my best. Starts pretty plain, but finishes with clean, moderate bitterness and a very noticeable (and delicious) citrus/orange flavor. Possibly some pine there too, but it could just be the bitterness.

Feel: Medium, not too interesting, but pale ales aren't known for mouthfeel. There is a decent amount of carbonation that makes it nice and lively, and adds a little bit of crispness that works well with the hops. Dry, dry finish.

Overall: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a well established benchmark for the American Pale Ale, and for good reasons. Everything is well-balanced, and you can kick back a few of them without hop overload. Someone with an IPA-warped palate will barely be able to notice the bitterness, but that makes it more approachable for non-BA's just starting out in craft beer. It's a solid, everyday pale ale at an affordable price.

enjambed, Jul 28, 2014
Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poures a golden amber with a two finger off white froathy head. Decent head retention for the style, and there is even a little lacing to be had...

S - Hops, citrus, and a hint of pine...

T - Citrus/grapefruit hits you up front followed by hops. Ends on a slightly bitter hoppy note. Pretty smooth...

M - Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation...

D - Definitely not one of my favorites, but something I tend to drink fairly often because they are so available in my area. I guess you can say this is one of my go to beers when I am in a pinch...


comfortablynumb1, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of bruachan
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the winking lizard

translucent copper with a descending head that leaves lacing behind and stops short of disappearing altogether
slight citrus nose with some caramel

more citrus in the flavor with coarse but moderate bitterness that feels kinda sticky in the mouthfeel (at one point it almost tasted metallic, but i decided against that observation)

i haven't tasted the stuff out of the bottle recently so i can't compare the two

bruachan, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of Atch
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Nice golden orange color, medium carbonation, 1 finger head that leaves quick and some descent lacing.

Smell: I get citrus and (coconut)?

Taste: A good balanced beer that definitely fits the APA style.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth texture, holds the carbonation.

Drinkability: I would absolutely have another.

I remember years back when I first tried SNPA, thinking how great it was and it would make me pucker. Then; being introduced to IPA's and doubles, I kind of forgot about Sierra. Probally the beer responsible for my never-ending hop quest. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale= Old Faithful.

Atch, Feb 28, 2007
Photo of Phelps
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Looks: like apple juice. Perfectly clear pale almond with a one-finger head of sticky seafoam white that grips the sides of the glass in full sheets. The head chills atop the glass for a few good minutes before receding to become a thick layer.

Smells: classic. Nicely hoppy, with citrusy flavors of sweet oranges and lemon peel.

Tastes: nice bready malt and a subtler backbone of sweet caramel. A blast of zesty citrus peel hits, with lots of orange and a bit of grapefruit. Lightly bitter acrid orange peel in the back. Straightforward and solid.

Feels: soft and just a tad watery. Medium-light body and a medium carbonation.

Drinks: like a standby. To this long-time drinker, first-time reviewer, SNPA is a classic that's dependable when craft beer is scarce.

Phelps, Aug 27, 2010
Photo of swede96
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had one of these years ago in Reno straight out of the bottle. Tried another out of a pint beer glass. The head was just off white and about 1 finger with good lacing. I was surprised to see the beer was almost orange in color. The smell was very good with the hops and citrus coming through, tasted a lot like the smell, very good. Medium mouthfeel and drinkability was good, enjoyed this brew and will go for it again.
Went great with the burger....

swede96, Nov 17, 2010
Photo of sprucetip
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From notes, on tap in California. Very clear, golden/copper, fluffy white head, good retention, some lacing. Not very active. SMELL pleasantly hoppy aroma up front, dissipates. Not expecially complex. Grassy hop notes return with a swirl and as it warms. TASTE nicely balanced meium bitterness, substantial but not overdone hop flavors & perceptible malt backing. FEEL tingly/fizzy, medium body, dry & a bit bitter in the finish. OVERALL it is a classic, or course. Plenty of flavor, easy drinking. Old reliable, and thankful to find it when it's the only craft beer available in a particular location.

sprucetip, Nov 13, 2009
Photo of BrewMaster
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was served from the tap with a dull amber color and a thin 1cm head. The aroma is a nice malty one with a bit of floral hop scent mixed in. Being that I've had this beer so much here in CA I've never really stopped to notice the beautiful aroma of this beer. But this time I did and I appreciate it much more now.

The flavor has a mild sweet malt profile with touches of cascade hops. A soft nuttiness is also present, but not in an overpowering or oily fashion. The beer is smooth and certainly suitable as a daily drinker.

BrewMaster, Sep 03, 2004
Photo of JDV
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On Draft at UFC 73 in Sacramento. Lovely amberish color with just a little white head. Smell is a great fruity, fresh, hoppy scent. Taste is medium hoppy up front followed by a malty sweet aftertaste with a very nice finish. Great beer overall, with lots of flavor and a nice finish, and much better than I expected. I really liked this one.

JDV, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of Keblar
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Only thing I don't care for in this beer is the hoppiness, enough that it could be an IPA rather than a PA.

Slightly cloudy bright golden orange. Good head in the glass. Nice carbonation balance. Decent head that lingers well.

Clean feel, not too bitter. Floral of course. Citrus-y. Someone described it as a grassy tone, and I think fits it pretty well.

Excellent beer, but not my style.

Keblar, Nov 03, 2009
Photo of jmarklan
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark golden color. Beautiful dense white head, good retention. Slight lacing.

The aroma is faint: slightly toasted malt, biscuit like, herbal and minty hops.

Light in flavor, typical pale ale. Herbal and slightly minty hops throughout, ends with a very slight toasty malt. Well balanced.

Feels light in body, very drinkable and crisp.

Overall: Generally i like beers with a bit more flavor and aroma, but this is a fine and sessionable beer.

jmarklan, Apr 07, 2012
Photo of Bfarr
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear Copper amber with a big frothy tan head with broken lacing. A floral aroma with some sweetness. Nice malty, lightly caramel weetness balanced out with a fairly prominent floral/earthy flavor with light bittering finish. Mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy for a pale ale.

Highly drinkable pale ale with a great bottle conditioned carbonation. Good hop presence for a pale ale but not overdone.

Bfarr, Jul 15, 2010
Photo of cocogan
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Visual: copper in color with orange hues. Just a lsight layer of various sized bubbles left as a head. a smudgen of lacing.

Nose: Orange peel, slight citrus, buttered biscuit, and eggs (not sure about style.. maybe scrambled).

Taste: Clementine and orange peel flavors up front, followed by pineapple citrus,bit of bready chewiness, tin metallic flavor, and a crisp earthen finish that is dosed with a balanced hop bitterness.

Mouth: feels like beer thats for sure, mildly carbonated, left fairly dry but yo mouth waters for more.

Drunkability: solid american pale ale. it is a good stand by because it is pretty easy to get ahold of nation wide. However, i endorse drinkin local beer, so i must say that this would taste even better if i were sippin it fresh in Chico, Cali.

cocogan, Apr 14, 2011
Photo of Yeastcakes
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving notes - Legal Seafood, Boston airport. Shaker glass, cool.
A - bright floral hops (but not overpowering), some malt in the background.
A - inch of white head, clear amber.
M - medium body and carbonation
T - hops forward but well balanced by the malt. Very bright flavor. No aftertaste.
D - Very sessionable beer.

Yeastcakes, Mar 28, 2009
Photo of custardcb
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Pale Ale is what I consider a great beer for those lazy afternoons lounging around the house. The pleasant aroma with hints of yeast and hops are pleasing. The quality of the beer is very apparent and it is obvious the care is put into this drink. That has always been the lasting characteristic of this beer is freshness and quality. It is a beer that I know I can reach for at anytime and throughly enjoy.

custardcb, Jun 09, 2005
Photo of athensbeermaster
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Never had this Classic ale on tap with some spicy mexican food.
Wow the hefty malt backbone with the tangy citrus notes went down perfect. The head was a good two fingers and had some lacing down the whole glass.The flowery and musty earthtones from the hops really cool down the spicy salsa. Thanks to Garrett Oliver for that suggestion.Who needs a bad beer with a lime?

athensbeermaster, Jan 22, 2007
Photo of isaacpopp
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: yellowish orange pours with a 1 to 2 finger head that dissipates fairly quickly with little lacing.

S: a nice hoppy citrus aroma with some grassy notes as well

T: hop bitterness with some but definitely on the bitter side

M: light carbonation that is pleasant and leaves just a bit of a tingle on the taste buds in combination with the bittering hops. Thin mouthfeel otherwise.

O: Overall this is a really solid beer and one that you could drink as a session if not for the 5.6% ABV. A good bet if you are in the mood for a pale ale. Good quality to price ratio too!

isaacpopp, Jul 18, 2011
Photo of ColdPoncho
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Lots of numbers and things printed on the bottle. Don't know what they mean, but I would suspect this beer is about 4 months old, based on the store.

A - A hazy but clear amber body with touches of rose around the light. Small white head lingers a bit

S - Mild citrusy hops, light sweet malt. Small nose.

T - Bitter citrus hops are the thing here, but that's not overpowering. It's also got a nice simple malty backbone and its a good balance.

M - Medium-thin body, fairly smooth. Decent

O (D) - This is a good tasting beer that is not mind blowing in any way, but it's very good and very drinkable, and I find it to be rather sessionable. A great beer year round for sure.

ColdPoncho, Apr 10, 2011
Photo of Foxtrot
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a nice yellow and amber color into my frosted pint glass with a finger of head.

S - Smell's of pine and hop character; nice and clean.

T - Hit's my mouth with hops and mellows out with some citus notes, then pans out with a nice clean and crisp pine finish. Lots of good character for a relatively common Pale Ale.

M - Not too bad, but a bit on the thin side for me. Good carbonation.

D - This beer has some serious drinkability. It has a really good flavor that is not overpowering, but is smooth and refreshing.

Foxtrot, Nov 14, 2008
Photo of RocketWidget
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Not a bad beer at all. Currently enjoying this brew while waiting for my homebrew wort to chill, so really in the beer mood!
Pours a true gold color, with lots of sediment and average head. Smell is crisp and hoppy but not overpowering. Taste sets a very good standard, hoppy and sweet and just enough bitter flavor. A very drinkable brew. Overall recommended.

RocketWidget, Feb 07, 2004
Photo of beer2day
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep gold with a nice 1 and 1/2 finger head. Minimal retention but nice lacing.

Faintly citrus nose. Some malt character as well, slightly yeasty.

Tastes slightly sweet up front, but goes bitter quick. Wish the mouthfeel was a little thicker, but it is passable.

A good, basic go-to beer.

beer2day, Jun 12, 2009
Photo of vdubmatt
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The first thing you get when opening a bottle of SN pale ale is a huge dose of cirtusy hoppy goodness. This is probably one of my favorite session beers. Has a nice pale amber color with a small whiteish head. Again, the smell is dominated by citrus. Taste is very refreshing and crisp with a strong hop dominance, but a nice malt backbone. Moth feel is slightly watery. Very drinkable. All in all, it is a great beer that you can find almost anywhere in my experience.

vdubmatt, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of stevenseg
3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I doubt anyone is here checking out beers at beeradvocate.com having not ever tasted a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. My beverage-loving buddies and I agree that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the gateway to more robust flavored beers. Considered a session, this Pale Ale from Chico, California is one of the biggest small-batch breweries in the nation. I honestly had only had the Pale Ale out of a bottle, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it on tap at MyBar, a little strip-mall joint just east of Sawmill Road on Rt. 161 in Dublin, Ohio (shout out to my hometown).

My brew was delivered as a full pint. As it is when I pour it at home, the color was a clear amber with a nice fluffy head, which dissipated after a few minutes into a nice sticky film with great lacing. I love lacing rings (rings of lacing that stick to the glass, which are visible after every drink) and I am always very careful as I drink to drink out of the same side of the glass to be sure to preserve them. SN's Pale Ale is so sticky that the rings are barely visible and the lacing coats the entire inside of the glass. A rarity and a testament to the density of the beer.

The nose of this pale ale had very little of that sweet maltiness. Instead it's very hoppy. If I can smell bitterness, it's bitter. Flowery, but my nose translates the smell of flowery hops to bitter, because that's what is coming.

I think Sierra Nevada calls this a pale ale so as not to scare off the newbies. This is a session beer after all and IPA's aren't typically sessions, but by all intents and purposes, the SN pale ale might as well be an IPA. It's subtle sweetness is no match for the dryness on the back end. This beer is all hops, which is a great trait for a session. The bitterness on the back end lingers pleasantly into the next sip.

SN's Pale Ale is a little syrupy. It's very thick and I could feel it on my lips. It's carbonation is done very well for a mass-produced beer. It is not creamy like and English Ale, nor is it a carbonated mess like American lagers. Instead it has a great consistency, much like a good IPA, and it surely doesn't taste cheap for being available at most supermarkets.

When I find a bar that serves Sierra Nevada, I'm a happy camper. I can slug down Guinness all night, but Sierra Nevada is a slow-sipping delicacy, a sipable evening treat.

The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a session beer for craft brew lovers. It's one of the hoppiest commercially available beers on the market, and that's what distinguishes it in my mind. If you are a Pale Ale lover, it's just a matter of time before you're tipping back on thicker IPA's and porters.

stevenseg, Jul 25, 2009
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 8,732 ratings.