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Sierra Nevada Best Bitter Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Best Bitter AleSierra Nevada Best Bitter Ale

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43 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 43
Reviews: 27
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 12.74%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-20-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 43 | Reviews: 27 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of donniecuffs
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a sampling glass. Dark copper/caramel color, with no carbonation and very little head, which wasn't surprising given the style. The smell revealed very little in the way of typical bitter aromas like caramel, toffee, and biscuit, but did reveal more of these as the glass warmed towards room temperature. The flavor though was immediately more identifiable than the aroma, with some oakiness and vanilla in it as well. Thin-bodied and no carbonation as expected. This beer did reveal more nuances as the temperature went up, but I'd like it to be more evident at the getgo, if I'm going to session it.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled this on-tap at the brewery tonight.

Served in a 20oz. imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Came out with a very loose, one-finger, off-white head that deteriorated rapidly. After only a minute it was nothing more than a mere film. Body was hazy and caramel-colored, and displayed a loose column of carbonation in the middle. Head was very clean; drug no lace.

Smell: I had to let this warm to room temperature before I really got anything out of it. (It'd be nice if this one was a regular cask offering.) Once it had warmed, I detected caramel malt, fermented grains, and Cascade-like hops.

Taste: Toasted grains, caramel malt, and woody hops. Simple, but very well done; the flavors worked together very well.

Mouthfeel: Malty, slightly chewy, and clean. Carbonation was low, as expected. Light-bodied with a pleasant malty aftertaste.

Drinkability: This was a very easy drink that I would happily order again, especially if it's on cask. This was a very easy-going ale.

Photo of dudecandle
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

On tap into pint glass:

A: Nice, modestly light brown color. One-finger's head, modest retention, minimal lacing.

S/T: Hoppy primarily, banana bread, lightly toasted. Malts are a bit more present on the taste.

M: A little thin.

D: Very well-rounded, as a bitter should be. It really needs to sit a bit so it can warm up and open up, but once it does, it's rather worth it. If the body would have been just a little bit fuller, this would be great.

Photo of washburnkid
2.98/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewery. About 5.00%ABV

A: Clear golden and amber with a small white head that retains as a ring.
S: Nothing really overwhelming on the nose. It smelled like the rest of the brewery (a little yeasty and grainy). It had a mild cooked aroma, but it wasn't unpleasant.
T/M: Crisp and light, dry finish of bitter hops. Some honey sweetness somewhat discernible amongst the drab malts and hops. I really wish there were something more to this beer, though maybe it's meant to be very neutral!
D: This was okay. I wouldn't have another because there are so many solid SN brews to choose from.

Photo of flexabull
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark and clear gold color, with a smaller white head.

Aromas are of light hops, an easy pine light aroma, along with some easy brewed teas.

Taste is flavorful, but not at all heavy or overpowering. Nice malt flavors, light biscuit, easy sweetness, cream, and brewed tea. Finish has a touch of hops, mostly some mineral bitterness.

Mouthfeel is good. Nice carbonation, and an easy full and not overly heavy feel.

Drinkability is quite good. This is one of my favorable sessionable Sierra brews. I'd love to have a keg of this at a party. Very tasty, but not heavy, and is very easy to drink.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 9/3/08. On tap at BT. Pours a clear orange with a small white head. Aroma of sweet malt, flowery hops. Flavor is bitter initial with lots of wheat. Some flowery hops but quite bitter. Blandish. I'd pass on this next time.
6/3/6/3/13 (3.1/5)

Photo of plaid75
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at The Blind Tiger.

Poured a light copper hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured light grainy malt and a flowery hop.

The taste consisted of clean and full cereal malts and a balancing flowery hop. There was some light sweetness toward the finish.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style.

Overall a seemingly authentic and very tasty ale.

Photo of Nickls
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Golden brown hue with a clearly white head that held fairly well

S - Faint maltiness and aromas of fresh baked bread

T - Malty and a bit yeasty, but lacking hop assertiveness

M - Smooth and lightly creamy

D - Has all the trapping of a well-balanced bitter, and more complex than more traditional takes on the brew. Easy-drinking here

Overall, this was a pretty nice beer and nothing in particular stuck out as bad or great. Very balanced and pleasant. Would recommend

Photo of Floydster
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1/2 pint at the Sierra Nevada Taproom for two dollars, consumed 8/11/08, reviewed from notes

A-Color was a mix between copper and medium brown, 1/2 inch foamy white head, some retention, nice lacing
S-English malt, lemons, grassy accents, strong hops, citrus, and roastiness
T-Hops are pretty powerful in this one, in other words the hoppiness outdoes the malt for once, bitter all the way through with some dried citrus in the finish, does not change much as it warms up other than becoming more subtle, liked the dryness in this one
M-Could use some more carbonation, bitter and dry mouthfeel, medium bodied, taste lingers a little bit
D-ABV seemed low and it was light on the stomach, went down easy and refreshing at times, taste is not complex enough to keep coming back to though

I enjoy English Bitters once in a while and this one did not measure up to the last one I drank, being the Surly brew, might drink again if I was at the brewery and in the mood for something along these lines, worth trying

Photo of sleazo
4.15/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Mugs Ale house in Brooklyn

A-Copper brown with a rich medium frothy head. Dissipates quickly but leaves nice lace.

S-A clean barley smell with a drop of sierra hops.

T- is nice. More hopped than most bitters which I like. Slightly roasted flavour compliments the Sierra cascade(I think or chinook) hops. Very well balanced.

M-is rich as can be expected from cask. Carbonation is low as well.

D-Very drinkable. This is a fantastic bitter, maybe too hoppy for some but I loved it. This is a treat on cask. This was especially refreshing after biking over the Brooklyn Bridge. If I didnt have to bike back I would have turned this into a session. Sierra Nevada manages to do it again. Some of their more obscure styles are done very well.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear amber with a small white head.
Aroma of malts and light hops with a tiny bit of citrus.
Taste is light on the malt and a little heavier on the hops with a bit of citrus drying on the backside.
Mouthfeel is comfortable due to the carbonation.
Aftertaste of hops and drying makes you want another sip...
..and another.
Very good take on a british bitter

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer sits a beautiful, full, clear, copper color in my pint glass, it is topped by a finger thick pale tan colored head. Ah the aroma is magnificent; a mix of bergamot, peach, apricot and a bit of an underlying herbal character (all of which is from the hops of course). The taste is pretty dry and quaffable, yet it has a biting bitterness in the finish which is in line with, or perhaps a bit dominating of, the quaffable malt character. With the dry finish the fruity hop notes in the nose are down played to allow the herbal hop notes to dominate in the flavor. I get notes of fresh cut herbs, and some slight menthol in this beer that is served a bit too cold.

The malt character is subsidiary to the hops, it is here but plays second fiddle / supporting role. I get hints of caramel, toasted malt, biscuits and a dry grain character. This beer hits the light, easy drinking character of a traditional best bitter, though it is perhaps a bit too hoppy and bitter (which of course I enjoy quite a bit).

Photo of bigbelcher
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at Fathers Office. I am really surprised at Sierra Nevada for making this beer. While most breweries are coming out with big hoppy beers, Sierra Nevada has turned back the clock and made an English Style Bitter. The beer goes well with a Fathers Office burger but by itself it wasn't much to speak about. It was good for the style I guess but in this day and age I feel that bigger is better.

The beer had a nice light gold color with a white head. A light hoppiness was there but you had to dig a little for it. This would be a good begginers beer for those wanting to ween themselves off of Bud and Coors.

Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on draft at the Blind Tiger ale house in NYC, Poured light amber, clear and low head/carbonation noted. This is Sierra Nevada's take on the classic and under appreciated Bitter style. Malty nose, mellow and mild. Malty base, very smooth and subtle. Understated, reserved and smooth. Fine sessioner. Give it a try if it makes it to your local.

Photo of warmstorage
1.68/5  rDev -54.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Had on tap at the brewery in Chico last night. Quite disappointing: thin, light, pours a medium straw color. Minimal aroma, likely because it was poured at about 43 degrees. Slight aroma later, appropriate to style, but still limited. If I didn't have so much respect for Sierra Nevada's history and some of their other brews, I would have been pissed to bother driving all the way to Chico. (Other reviews forthcoming: the beer was almost uniformly disappointing, thin, and bland.)

Thin start, fairly high carbonation. Weak, thin, limited hop presence, and body is thin and bright. Only balanced in the sense that there is no significant hop or malt presence, so it's a balanced blandness. Mouthfeel is crisp and bright, notably carbonated. Finish has distinct hints of cheap grain/cheap adjuncts, like an American style lager.

I echo GreenWBush's sentiments in a prior review of this beer, to the extent that many of SN's brews seem to all be on the same base, and just have minimally varying flavors added. This beer varied MINIMALLY from the Blonde, the Pilsner, the Wheat, the Crystal Wheat, and the Extra Special Pale Ale.

I definitely wouldn't bother again, and barely finished this pint, even though I got it for free! (I ordered the Extra Special Pale Ale, and the bartender accidentally poured 3/4 of a pint of this, so when I asked if it would just go to waste anyway, she laughed/grimaced and gave it to me.)

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Presentation: Sampled on draft at Lucky Baldwin’s, Pasadena, CA on Saturday 18th September during the Sierra Nevada Beer Festival and a mini-BA Gathering. Served in a Sierra Nevada Pint Glass, $3 for the Pint.

Generic Sierra Nevada Tap Handle that is Dark Blue and has the words ‘Best Bitter’ in White text, nicely accompanied by a Union Jack which hints at the style.

Appearance: Golden color with a few coppery hints at times, though in the darkness of Lucky Baldwin’s it was difficult at times to work out what the exact color was, this one didn’t last too long to examine it either. Nice white head on this one from the off-set, and it lasted. Excellent conditioning.

Nose: Some grain, light toasted malts, fresh hops, and a delicate herbal spicy character at the back end with some lemon essence. Bitterness and hops start to shine through in the latter third. Decent nose, average strength but interesting.

Taste: Average malt background, light hoppy middle, dry bitter finish. Lemony with some fresh zest from the smooth carbonation that dissolutes nicely on the tongue allowing the flavors to reveal themselves. Not a big beer by any stretch of the imagination. What it does have, it uses extremely well and to full potential.

Mouthfeel: Slightly above average feel, but perfect for the style, at least for me. Solid carbonation really helped to bolster the creamy feel and smooth texture that this exhibited. A great body that is just right for the style and allows the flavors to escape in all the right proportions and at the right times.

Drinkability: I was pointed towards this one by drewbage, and may I say right here and now this was one of my favorites, probably the least complex aside from the Blonde Ale, but it had perfect balance and a *seriously* inviting quaffability that would make this an excellent Session brew for me. I could manage a Gallon (UK that is) very, very easily - too easily!!

Overall: Not the biggest, boldest, rarest, strangest or most complex of the Sierra Nevada Fleet on offer at Lucky Baldwin’s this weekend, which just goes to show that a great Beer can often be the simplest. Superb balance and a damn tasty libation. A solid effort from Sierra Nevada, so why the hell don’t they make this one more widely available!? Definitely one of my favorites from the portfolio on offer during the LB's Sierra Nevada Festival.


Photo of GreenWBush
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

As I pointed out in one of my numerous Sierra Nevada reviews, this company has gotten all of its beers to seem like frighteningly similar shades of the brand's rainbow. I would love to line up Sierra Nevada's beers from light to dark and see if by the end they all just ended up tasting like differently booze-and-hop spiked versions of one another. Maybe I worry about these things too much.

I found it rather funny when I ordered the "ESB" and the waiter looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe SN does do a ESB also, but the confusion seemed a bit funny in my way-past-perfectly sober point at the brewery that afternoon.

This beer, I have to say, would be the perfect wedding beer. It has more in common with Harp and Fuller's than it does Celebration. Its noble-hop quotient is obviously higher than most somewhat-similar styles but overall its light, delicate, and schwillable. Something your father in law could love. Something to let you dry out a bit from all that Celebration.

This beer most likely hits a slight niche of SN drinkers, making sense that its most likely only found at the brewery. But nice to see that the brewery can differ from the formula from time to time.

Photo of watermelonman
4.15/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was poured with a good pale brown color with plenty of head. It left a great looking lace as it went down.

It's got a good subdued bitter flavor. It's very well balanced; no single aspect of the flavor is dominating. Each sip begs for more, and I could drink gallons of this stuff.

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Sierra Nevada Best Bitter Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
84 out of 100 based on 43 ratings.