1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

8,698 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8,698
Reviews: 2,690
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 11.63%
Wants: 129
Gots: 897 | FT: 3
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 8,698 | Reviews: 2,690 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Webby64
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%

I will be honest, I can't tell the difference between this and Goose's "Honkers Ale". Smell (to me) is faint, I don't smell much. Color is clear light copper, no head to speak of. Taste has a touch of citrus, slight malt and a dry finish. Has a bit of a kick to it. Overall, a very good beer, one that I am really enjoying. I will buy again!


Webby64, Oct 05, 2003
Photo of oelergud
4/5  rDev -1%

Appearance: Chubby little brown glass bottle, twist off cap, green and yellow label. Body is light bronze with white head, good retention and lace.

Smell: Bread, grass and a little sweet and very faint licorice

Taste: Big bread and grass flavors, some sweetness comes through but is quickly overtaken by the strong hop presence.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth, goes down easy.

Drinkability: Easy to enjoy, a simple good beer. It doesn't impose itself and it isn't bland or boring, a perfect middle.

oelergud, Oct 05, 2003
Photo of AbePhroman
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%

This was one of the first beers I tasted that switched me into the realm of quality beers. ( I was a big Yuengling fan, I still think it's great for the price). It pours into a true golden color with a head that settles fast. It smells of hops but not overwhelming. It tastes oh so good. Bitter at first but it leaves me wanting more. Very high drinkability. My favorite brew, I can always fall back on this when I can't decide what to buy. Quality through and through.

AbePhroman, Sep 24, 2003
Photo of grynder33
4.53/5  rDev +12.1%

This beer is one of the reasons I got into expanding my horizons as far as new brews are concerned. What a treat. Full rich fruit hop aroma, lucious hop heavy fruit taste with a honey accent. Slightly sweet aftertaste lingered in your mouth like the aftermath of a sweet kiss, seductively calling you to indulge again. The blending here is pure art. This beauty will always have a place in my fridge

grynder33, Sep 23, 2003
Photo of arizcards
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%

Finally decided to reviewing this after many samples. Seems better in a bottle than on tap. Appearance is golden, with a small head and no lacing to speak of. Smells detected are the hops. Taste is excellent, nice smooth malt start with a big hop bite and a citrus finish. Very smooth yet full mouth feel. This is one of my old standbys. Had this coming of the golf course today-it was heaven!

arizcards, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
3.83/5  rDev -5.2%

Medium gold color, medium head. Mild malts and hops. A hoppy, slightly malty pale ale. Full flavor. Good balance of hops to malts. Mouthfeel is smooth. Finish is crisp and clean. Aftertaste is bitter. The classic Pale ale. This is an excellent beer to drink ICE COLD on a hot summer day.

beerguy101, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of Ianhockey91
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%

One of my all time favorite beers, and probably the beer that sent me in search of other better beers. Deep deep yellow in colore, white pillowy head, and an aroma that is simply the perfect balance of hops and malt. The taste, just like the smell hops, malt, perfection. while not as complex as some other beers, SN pale ale is quite possibly the best session brew out there.

Ianhockey91, Sep 18, 2003
Photo of SixpointJMH
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%

quite simply a great american brew. when i lived in boston this was always my fall-back beer as you could seemingly get it everywhere. now that i'm back home in nj, it's a little harder to come by but appears to be more and more available at bars as time goes by. pours an awesome amber colour with a moderate head that is not very long lasting but leaves you with a nice lacing. smells of hops and wheat and adds hints of fruit and earthiness, all of which can be found in the flavour. quite along going on here for a standard pale ale. carbonation is just right. this is a perfect session beer and is quite often just that for me. a classic.

SixpointJMH, Sep 16, 2003
Photo of Ellbert
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%

On tap this beer looks much better. Its head sticks much longer and it looks much creamier.

The smell is a little more pronounced. The hops stick out a little more yet the malt is still there with a little spice to make it nice.

The taste seems more hoppier than its bottled friend. The hops are more pronounced and fresh.

The mouthfeel is pretty rich and creamy. The apperance of the head was nice and creamy and it reflects the mouthfeel.

Ellbert, Sep 16, 2003
Photo of granger10
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%

This was a very nice beer! It had a light orange color to it with golden highlights and a nice sized white colored head. Smell is mainly of citric hops. Taste first shows me the bready malt that provides the base of the beer. The hops come next and they dominate but are never too much. There seem to be different hops there including floral hops, bitter hops, but the main taste I get is citrus hops with orange seeming to dominate. A very good beer that I will buy more often.

granger10, Sep 16, 2003
Photo of neg007
5/5  rDev +23.8%

On a scale of 1-5, this beer is a 10.

Just a wonderful beer, perfect color, perfect level of hops. I would drink this like water if it were socially acceptable...

It is available just about everwhere now, even at Rite Aid, which makes it even better. The perfect beer available just about everywhere.

neg007, Sep 14, 2003
Photo of garymuchow
4.55/5  rDev +12.6%

Considering how popular and how good this beer is it is surprizing that it's taken me so long to do a review.
I really like the mix of sweet floral and citrus hops with firm and steady malt base.
Tannnish/yellow fizzy but stable head that has good stamina and changes to a creamy look and presents lacing. Amber and clear.
Flavorful hop bitterness of citrus quality start to finish. Just enough malt base to support and lend smoothness to flavor. Fullness from carbonation, but leaves some softness too Ale smoothness that moves to fluffiness as warms.
A classic American beer.

garymuchow, Sep 06, 2003
Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -13.4%

#6 in the all american spree.

I guess I was much so eager to try it that it was a bit disappointing.

Pours a clear, translucent orange with a medium head that fades and leaves some lacing and a thin coat atop the liquid.

The smell is very fruity and sharp with a good presence of hops in it. Very malty as well.

The taste, puh, very malty with lots of orange presence complimented with a back-of-the-throat bitterness, very strong. Perhaps a bit too sweet. Not very carbonated either.

An OK beer, made too much of it before trying it, but it's worth having more than once.

Andreji, Sep 06, 2003
Photo of TripelJ
4.83/5  rDev +19.6%

Now Quaffing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I am having a hard time stopping to type and start this review because I can't put this beer down. SN Pale Ale pours a nice deep hazy copper-gold with a nice thick, clumpy head. The aromas are clean and pure, a nice floral and hoppy (Cascade?) nose. The taste is what makes this beer stand out for me--an absolute redefinition of quaffable. The taste reflects the nose with a nice dose of hops, sweet malty middle, and some more hops in the slightly bitter finish. I wish I was more adept and describing my perception of this beer, but alas I will let it speak for itself. This is definitely my new 'session beer' and has a permanent home in my fridge (until I drink it and have to buy more of course). Much respect to the folks at Sierra Nevada!

TripelJ, Sep 05, 2003
Photo of DarrellK
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%

I've been drinking this brew for years and it has maintained it's consistency over time. On draft or from a bottle it has a medium hue with a rich head and a good hoppy aroma. It is obviously very hoppy, so much so that it may scare aware some. To my taste it hits the spot any time of year.

Despite the hoppiness the finish is not overpowering but it does go better with stronger food. Once in a while this style will leave a bit of a soapy aftertaste and SNPA is not immune.

DarrellK, Sep 03, 2003
Photo of Sixpack595
2.4/5  rDev -40.6%

Tastes like an overhopped macro. If your only complaint about Bud is the lack of hops, try this beer. If you like a full bodied beer with a strong malty backbone skip it. Very floral aroma, strong hop flavor, but not much else to it. American Pale Ales like this seem to much like a 1 trick pony. Try to back up that hop with some malt.

Sixpack595, Sep 01, 2003
Photo of jcalabre
3.43/5  rDev -15.1%

I originally sampled this beer on 28 March 2003. I am writing this review from my notes.
Clear amber colored, light flavor (by beer geek standards), this beer is a good stepping stone for people trying to get out of the BMC rut. In my opinion, SNPA will go down in annals of beer history as one of the leaders of the micro movement. These days, it is overshadowed by 'big beers', but every serious beer aficionado needs to try this one. It's still a very good example of an APA.

jcalabre, Aug 31, 2003
Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%

Brownish golden in color with a slight haze. Off-white head.
Aroma dominated by the hops. Mix of citrus and floral with a bit of pine as well. Pale malt underneath the hops.

Taste follows the nose. Healthy dose of hop bitterness throughout. Hop flavor is a mix of floral, citrus, and pine notes. Good caramel-tasting, pale malt base underneath that falls a bit short of really balancing this one. Enjoyable flavor.

Good mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.

Overall, a good APA. It's relatively wide availability often makes it a welcome sight in an otherwise boring beer establishment.

PhantomVodoo, Aug 28, 2003
Photo of RoyalT
4/5  rDev -1%

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.

RoyalT, Aug 27, 2003
Photo of Realale
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%

Pours a beautiful full gold, with just a blush of copper. Fine sticky 1/2" head settles slowly to thin, complete cap.

Cascades! Grapefruit City. But there's a nice bit of piney freshness as well, and the underlaying biscuity malt base is not obliterated by the hops. A bit too much hop to be well-balanced, in my particular parlance, but nicely done, nonetheless.

Medium full in the mouth, with the malt slightly outweighing the good hop flavor on the palate. Great length from the hop bitterness, and the bottle-conditioned carbonation level is just right, lightening the body a bit, and scrubbing the hops from the palate in preparation for the next sip. Easy to down several of these. An old favorite, a classic of its style, and always a joy to see on an otherwise dismal beer list.

Realale, Aug 25, 2003
Photo of SetarconeX
4.22/5  rDev +4.5%

I've got to say, this one has a particularly pretty color. A bit darker than a lot of pale ales, but almost exactly where I'd like it. Head isn't huge, but a light lacing hangs around for a remarkably long time, adding even more to the visual appeal. Smells exactly the way it tastes, maly, hoppy, but neither particularly overdone. There's a reason why this one's so well regarded. Being tasty, and remarkably easily available for its quality, this is for me effectively the standard against which other pale ales must be measured. So easy to get, that when looking at other pale ales, the first question just has to be "how's it stack up against Sierra Nevada?"

In summary, a good, solid ale. Easy to get, so you can drink it without worries, and better than the vast majority of everything out there. If only everything you got at the local grocery store was this good....

SetarconeX, Aug 24, 2003
Photo of hungryghost
4/5  rDev -1%

Medium, amber color. The head is white and does not last too long.
Hints of citrus, hops (floral), and spice in the aroma and taste. The beer is refreshing to the pallete, the hoppiness is pleasant and not overpowering. The word refreshing comes to mind.

This is my favorite 'standby' beer. It never fails to please with a meal or at a pub with friends. It is popular enough now that it can be found in most establishments, even if the beer list goes from Lite to Bud to Sierra.
As long as they have Sierra I can get by.

hungryghost, Aug 21, 2003
Photo of Mustard
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%

Presentation: Squat 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best by" date; $5.99/6 from Ralph's.

Appearance: Pours a clear, vibrant gold with a thick, foamy, 1+" head; sturdy, ring-like lacing; excellent head retention.

Aroma: Largely of piney, citrusy hops.

Taste: Faintly sweet, biscuit-like maltiness upfront; crisp, piney, grapefruit-like hop bitterness in the finish. Medium bodied with a somehwat chewy mouthfeel.

Notes: Stellar session APA.

Mustard, Aug 20, 2003
Photo of ngandhi
4.4/5  rDev +8.9%

Fruitier out of the bottle. Maltier too. A rare occassion, indeed, but I like the bottle more than the tap. The tap's a little more astringent. Drinkability gets a 5 because this is an ideal session ale. A gorgeous beer. I buy it by the case.

It's not incredibly complex but the hops used here are delicious on the palette and nose -- evidence of intelligent, careful brewing. There are mild esters in the background but not unusually flowery like HopDevil. Bitter but not unpleasant. The hops here are a flavor, part-and-parcel of the beer, instead of some crazy quasi-adjunct that's there just to burn people's tongues off. There's even an influence of American pale lager in this beer on the nose, in a good way, -- somewhat Pilsnery. Clean, smooth body with a very controlled hop bite and medium malt. The flavors are delicately mellowed, but defined. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale isn't trying to prove anything. It drinks honest and pure.

Relax, relax.

ngandhi, Aug 19, 2003
Photo of soilguy
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%

This is a very good pale ale. The color is a straw-like orange with a white head that was dissapointingly short-lived. The layer of yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle assures you that this is indeed a bottle conditioned ale - a definite plus in my scorebook. A strong hop aroma is dominated by the classic citrusy scents of american hop varieties. The floral-citrus flavors in the beer are more subtle, but the hop bitterness is unmistakable. A thin mouthfeel is appropriate in this beer, and makes it more drinkable. A great summer thirst quencher.

soilguy, Aug 16, 2003
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 8,698 ratings.