Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

2,920 Reviews
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Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

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

37 IBU

Added by kbub6f on 07-05-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,920 | Ratings: 10,817
Photo of Ahhdball
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed orange with a off white to beige head capping off the top.Malt, crisp citrus and hops bleed aroma into the nose with refreshing ease.Malt hits the tastebuds first but are doomed to a quick end by the tidal of hops. Caramel soon joins and smooths out the rest of the drink. Very nicely balanced. The entire drink shalaqs the mouth with great malt and hops. I'll have this again.

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Photo of Beaver13
2.91/5  rDev -28.1%
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.

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Photo of niknar
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a amber/copper color with a pretty decent off-white head. Strong lacing down the side of the glass, and much better than average head retention put this beer among the top. Smell is a category I always struggle with. Having said that, I do detect some hops and citrus notes... possibly some malt in there as well. Overall a pleasant smell. Taste is well above average. Strong hop bitterness balanced by a sweet maltiness and some citrus flavors. Though not overly complex, I feel this is still a very delicate balance that makes it a very good beer. True to the style, it finishes with strong hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is excellent as well. Light and crisp without being over carbonated or too thin. I consider this a very strong offering worthy of a special occasion or everyday consumption alike. Definitely a beer that any craft beer lover should try. Maybe a good beer for someone who was recently converted from macros, but I wouldn't make this one part of such a program too early due to the bitterness!

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Photo of nortmand
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada is known to many as a standby and a gateway to great beer. This alone gives it high marks.
Pours amber with a finger of white head.
Smell of citrus and raisin.
Raisin-like initial flavor, with a bitter, back of the tongue finish.
Nicely carbonated, with a slightly astringent "stickiness" mid-tongue.
Very drinkable, nice balanced, hoppy Pale Ale.

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Photo of Gusler
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

It's with a certain amount of shame that I must admit, that I rarely drink my favorite beers like SNPA, as I'm to busy with all the new beers, or some over the top beer that has caught my fancy, its a shame when we forget our "Old Friends", whether it be beer or people, something I plan on rectifying in both cases.

The beer disembogues the stubby brown 12-ounce bottle a slightly hazy amber color, the head portly and off white in color with the left over lace a fine velum like sheet, that obscures the glass. Oh what a wonderful nose, malt, citrus crisp, hop floral, and just plain sniffable, with the start rich in malt and somewhat sweet, top is middling in its feel. Finish has a determined acidity, the hops wonderfully spicy and the aftertaste desert bone dry. Sorry "Old Friend" if I have ignored you lately, it was not intentional.

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Photo of Enygma
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: The bottle pours a nice amber color, with a nice frothy head that dissipates slowly into the beer as you drink it.

Smell: Strong citrusy hops with definite floral notes, the cascades come through quite strong and beautifully. the malt comes through very slightly, but is largely overpowered by the hops.

Taste: Slightly sweet malt tickles your taste buds and is quickly overpowered by the cascade hops, leaving a bitter and spicy finish to excellently balance the beer. The mouthfeel is medium and supplemented by a medium to strong carbonation.

Overall: Definitely solid beer. This one has long been one of my mainstay beers, I can find it almost anywhere I go, and pretty cheaply at that. Furthermore it's a great session brew, I can and have had many of these throughout the night, and I often feel like i just can't get enough of it.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was truly the brew that got me started on good craft beer, and to this day its still a favorite. Pours a beautiful amber with a nice white head about an inch thick. Aromas are of citrus and bitter hops, with a bit of doughy bread malt. For flavor this beer has it all. Initially this beer shows off a barrage of hops, some citrusy, some piney, a just a little that provide some nice bitterness. Somewhere in between all of it some bread and dough like malts sneak their way in to provide a perfect balance. But just as the malts appear, the hops come back into the picture to finish this beer in perfect pale ale fashion, leaving just a bit of spiciness to make you crave another sip. The body of this beer is nice and light with a crisp carbonation. Very well balanced.

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Photo of davewrona
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this one! One of the best I have ever had. Tried several other Sierra Nevada products this day and this by far the best one! Not heavy, but not light - just right! I bought a six pack to acquire a taste and ended up forking out $120 to put on a half! Highly recommended!

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Photo of alexAK
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, but clear and consistent golden brown. Aroma is pleasant with slight flowery undertones. Taste is clean but not without flavor and the hops are generous but not overpowering. Hits the back of the tongue producing a round mouthfeel. Very drinkable. A clear example of a classic Pale Ale without overreaching in complexity.

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Photo of TongoRad
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After a break I have been drinking this beer quite a bit lately and must say that I am impressed with it all over again. It's a classic in the light caramel/ citrusy hops vein but what I am struck with is just how elegant this beer has become. Residual sweetness, bitterness, malt and hops in the nose- it's all in perfect proportion. This is a real quality APA.

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Photo of Rio
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured clear and golden, without much of a head, just a ring around the edge left now. Tiny bit of a hoppy smell to it. The taste is a wonderfully smooth malt and hops flavor to it. Very nice, smooth feel to it. Previously, I've liked the sharper, crisper feel, but the smoothness of this one is wonderful.

This is a definite beer to pick up again. Wonderful Pale Ale.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was an excellent ale that poured a clear deep yellow with a good head that dissolved to lace rings.

The aroma was beautiful, of tangy bitter hops and pine and cedar notes. It drew me toward the first taste.

The taste was very bitter, with pine and grapefruit overtones. There was no prominent maltiness. It was very dry and excellent.

I highly recommend this one.

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Photo of misterscooter
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a beer that grew on me slowly and is now a regular in my arsenal. My first impressions, several years ago, was that it wasn't worth drinking because of the lingering aftertaste. Either I have grown used to it or their recipe has changed slightly. There are some other Sierra Nevada beers I don't like for similar reasons but the Pale Ale has gained my affection.

The color is a solid brown with a bite in the aroma. It has a complex, woody, but dry taste to it and a bit of a tingle from the carbonation. Back to that aftertaste. It is also very dry but, like I said, either I'm used to it or it has been toned down. If that is what you notice at first and it turns you off, be sure to give it a few more tries. You might be surprised.

I wasn't surprised when Consumer Reports rated it the best overall beer based on taste and cost. Of course, since they couldn't review every beer out there, people might not agree. But they aren't way off base.

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

Poured a dark golden color with a nice slightly off-white head that was thick and stuck around a while. Steady carbonation.

The smell was hoppy, maybe a little piney and citrusy.

The flavor was strong, but not offensively so, hops, with pine and citrus notes. This had a classic pale ale taste with no off-flavors. A very solid brew.

The mouthfeel was smooth, for a pale ale. The hops are out-front, but not in your face with bitterness. Nice carbonation, but not too tingly.

I could drink this all night long. It is a solid pale ale with strong hop flavor, but none of the disagreeable bitterness and over-pined flavor of some pale ales.

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

Tasted 7/4/04.

Appearance: Amber gold with a fluffy white head. Active cabonation.

Smell: Citrusy hoppy, with pale malts and whiff of alcohol.

Taste: Carmel malt, with an aggressive, but clean and fresh hop character.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, sprtzy and smooth at the same time.

Drinkability: Excessively so. The Quintessential American Pale Ale.

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

This is known as the epitome of an American Pale Ale, as well it should. It has a nice appearance in the glass, with a slightly cloudy orange color. The lace sticks around until I finish the beer. The smell is citrusy, and so is the taste. The taste is also dominated by hopiness and a little bit of sweetness from the citrus flavor. This is overall a very versatile beer. It is great in the summer and the winter. It is great with or without food. It is, without a doubt, a pleasure to drink.

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

I have been drinking this beer for years and as of late it has become my staple at most Boston bars/restaurants that have the conventional/limited selection of beers.

This beer is readily available in the area that I live and very reasonably priced for a craft beer of this magnitude at most supermarkets or liquor stores.

For reviewing purposes, I had this out of a 12 oz twist off bottle. I think this is a great label as well, great shade of distintive green with the Sierra Nevada logo to match.

The appearance is a nice burnt orange color. I can smell floral like aromas from the beginning. Nice head on this beer.... maybe 1/2 -3/4 inch or so.

The hop aromas are right there. I think its the balance of the Cascade hops that I dig so much in this beer.

There is a real nice crisp and clean character to this beer. One of my favorite Pale Ales.

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Photo of aquatonex
2.74/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I expected more from this Pale Ale, perhaps it was the batch that was the problem. Pours light amber. Smells a lot of hops and alcohol, kinda skunky. Tastes rather bitter with a generous portion of hops, alcohol, and skunk that stays with your tongue until your next sip. I was not impressed at all.

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Photo of hobbes2112
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle

This was one of my first good beers back in the day and it is still with me today. Don't know why I haven't ever reviewed it until now.

Pours gold with a large white head, lots of lace. Aroma is citrus hop, a little bread, and a sedate malt. Taste follows along with quite balanced hop and malt (hop in the front malt in the rear.) Clean and crisp feel, every drink is great.

This is a wonder beer that is available all over, frequently quite cheaply (I got my current 12pk for $7.99)

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

On-tap at Eli Cannon's

Came in a pint glass. A nice golden color blend in with some amber tones, with a decent amount of carbonation. I wished there was more carbonation in this beer but it had to do. Smell was quite hoppy for a pale ale. Some citrus undertones with some grain in the background were there as well. Taste was mostly hops as well. Some undertones of malts can be tasted as well in the middle and into the aftertaste. Finally I know what the fuss is about for this beer. One of the better pale ale's out there, espeically on-tap.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.57/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I can't believe I have not reviewed this beer yet as I have had it many times. What makes this a touchstone among so many beerlovers. It is the blend between easy drinking and hoppy complexity. This beer has lots of interesting nuances for the sipper but goes well with food and mowing the grass. Along with Liberty Ale by Anchor Steam this beer helped define the American Pale Ale. What also is a bonus is the availibility of this beer even in gas stations and supermarkets.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Ale poured to with a gold-white head that dissipated slowly leaving no lacing. Dark gold color with a slight touch of red.

Smell: Rich without being overpowering, well balanced notes of hops with a hint of yeast and fruit

Taste: Nice malt notes with a touch of hop bitterness at the finish. The taste, like the smell is "well rounded" without simple or overpowering notes.

Mouthfeel: Okay but nothing impressive. A bit on the watery side without the desired creamy notes. More like a lager than an ale.

Drinkability: Quite nice and dependable - an ale I'd go for if there wasn't something more exotic to offer. Good with meals because the taste doesn't compete with the food.

[Additional notes] This has become my "go-to" beer. Not being as big a drinker as most here on BA, I only drink five or six beers a week. Currently two or three of them are SNPA; I can understand why so many people consider this a gold standard to measure other beers against. While I'm not a "monster hop" fan, I've been very fond of the bold, clean hop flavor that's short of an IPA but unmistakably a west coast brew.

Considering how often I keep coming back to this beer, I've upgraded the 'drinkability' score significantly as well as the 'mouthfeel' (those fine bubbles are very lager-like and do a good job of refreshing the palate.)

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Photo of Doiv
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought in London.

Brief off-white head with the hazy coppery amber appearance. I get the feeling I may have used a slightly wet glass.

Aromas are a little weak, but hops are noticeable. Malts and citric notes are apparent after a good inhale.

Taste of floral hops, then somewhat biscuity malts, caramel and citrus fruits, with a spicy hoppy end.

The mouthfeel was nice and it is easy to drink.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.61/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber orange color with a nice white head and good lacings throughout. Smells light, fresh, and a little hoppy. A hint of alcohol of you really get your schnozz in there and sniff. Pretty bland tasting I think but it has a nice mix of hops and a touch of citrusy sweetness. It's definitely a drinkable brew. Great for a cookout and a good representation of the style. A good session beer but I'm just not a big fan of pale ales unless they punch me in the face (which I guess is NOT the definition of pale ales). I would definitely recommend this brew to all.

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Photo of cbl2
3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A slightly hazy peach/yellow with about a quarter inch of white head.


Cascade hops prevail, but there is the promise of some hops lurking beneath. Promises to be hoppy, but balanced.


As the nose indicated, this is mostly hops. Nice and fresh, strong floral/herbal quality, but malts are there. Very well balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable. Easy to see why this is considered by many to be the gateway beer into craft beverages.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,920 ratings.