Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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2,956 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 2,956 | Ratings: 10,986
Photo of dmgeng
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%

One of the flagships of the entire craft beer industry but I thought I would review it after having it again for the first time since 2012.

A - Crystal clear pale orange color with great white head. Perfect lacing. One of the most aesthetically pleasing beers I've ever seen.

S - Very nice hop nose with citrus notes, light pine, and a light floral character. Some caramel and malt along with some yeast fruitiness after the hops.

T - Similar to the smell but with more of the cascade hops shinning through. The definite grapefruit quality that is always mentioned with this beer and type of hops really comes through. However, this is definitely a pale ale and not an IPA since there is great balance with the malt profile and the caramel flavors that mingle with the hops. I would say that the flavors are perfect for a middle of the road type of beer.

M - Lighter-medium mouth-feel. Has some bitterness but mostly clean on the finish. Low-medium carbonation.

Overall, the hallmark of an APA style of beer. The balance, flavor impact, and drinkability make this beer great for any time and any place. Not my favorite beer or favorite style because I usually prefer big Imperial beers with more flavor impact but if you're looking for a beer to just drink with some buddies this is never a bad decision.

Glass- shaker pint

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Photo of awinkro
3.74/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Cooper in color with about a 1/4" of head during the consumption.

S: More citrus/grapefruit aroma than floral, but some floral is present. Small amount of malt and caramel essence as well.

T: Slight spicy start, quickly followed by hops that linger for the entire drink. A nice malt balance comes in at the tail end.

M: The hops seem to linger on the palate after the drink, making the following drinks further apart.

D: It's a great standard for Pale Ale and a bar for new breweries to try and reach.

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Photo of Foyle
3.74/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 1" off white head. Amber color. Decent amount of carbonation bubbles streaming up.

Aroma: pine and citrus hop aroma.

Mouthfeel: light to medium body and slightly sticky. Mostly dry finish leaves me eager for the next sip.

Flavor: Sweeter malts dominate up front, hops in the center and finish.

Overall: a classic of the craft beer revolution Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a wonderful enjoyable quaff year round.

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Photo of mmva321
3.74/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: A pale amber body is clear and very carbonated. There some foamy but quickly dissipating head that leaves little lacing. A clean and active look.

S: Quite a crisp aroma. The overall effect is very floral. Hops, yeast and citrus notes all pop with great clarity. Well balanced but bold.

T: While many of the characteristics are carried over from the smell, the taste doesn't achieve the same balance. The hops and more grassy notes dominate, but it comes across as a bit dull. Bold but flat. Some citrus finds its way through.

M: The beer has a dryer feel thanks to the grassiness of the taste. While it does have enough carbonation and doesn't feel too heavy, the feel is flat.

O: This is a very worthwhile beer. An everyday kind of brew that isn't that way because it's easy to drink. Some big and bold flavors are here, it just doesn't have the best balance.

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Photo of PnwJimmies
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color of this beer was a vibrant copper color with a 2 finger white head which receded to a thin layer of foam. A little lacing down the glass.
Right off the bat i smelt honey and sweet malts with a hint of grapefruit sitting behind it, No real noticeable hoppy smell.
The taste was well balanced with a semi sweet malty back bone with a pleasant bitterness that rolled with beer as it went down.
The feel of this beer was quite a light body with decent amount of carbonation.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a clear, golden amber with an off-white, 2 finger head. The lace is decent.

Smell - Floral aroma, with some pine hop sitting beneath.

Taste - Sappy, pine hop. Only the faintest of citrus notes. Some malt sweetness, but gets overran by the hop. A bit of soapiness at times.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium body, with nice carbonation and bite. Dry on the finish.

Overall - Never been a huge SN PA guy, and truth be told I thought I was going to give it a lower rating than I have. Just not a big fan of the flavor profile. Too much pine hop in the mix, and the balance is skewed toward hop, for sure.

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Photo of joeysmokedporter
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada started it all for me in terms of craft beer. After > 10 years of drinking tonite I review it for the 1st time.

Poured on draft in a pint glass.

A: poured clear, amber color with no visible head.

S: with no head very little of the hop aroma I expected from this brew.

F: Starts with a piney citrus flavor and ends with a bitterness which sharpens at the end, somewhat mouthwatering.

M: somewhat light with viscosity picking up at the end along with the bitterness.

D: A very drinkable beer, could be consumed multiple times throughout the night.

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Photo of TCMike
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a glass, and got a 1 finger white head. The color is like copper.
The aroma is of citrus, and hops.
The taste is good. A little hoppier than a lot of pale ales, but not overly so. It's a little dry, and has a bitter taste that lingers briefly. It had a light-medium body. Medium carbonation.
Drinkability is decent, but not being a fan of bitter, I may get sick of it after a few.

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Photo of SkullFission
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This pours pale (as expected), with a thin head if you're light on the pour. The taste is a bit over-citrusy for my tastes, and I much prefer the SN porter and stout to this, but it still holds its own. The smell is rather nondescript, although it hints to the taste. This is a better compliment to lighter foods than the porter or stout are, and it's the only SN available at the Albertson's which is close to me (the closest liquor store is 45 minutes away, but I still catch it on the way back from university), so I keep coming back to it. A sometimes thin, sometimes thick (depending on age I suspect) layer of sediment dwells on the bottom due to bottle conditioning, which encourages a light pour. Enjoyable, but certainly not the best SN offering.

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Photo of karait95
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Nice yellow orange color, it is more a yellow one as a good American - hops style beer, the head was good but not impressive, and remains not too long

S: Hops and malts are combined in this beer, nothing to wild nothing to different from the style just a good elaborated American pale ale.

T: A hopy beer well representing the style but with no complexity, just the straight flavor of the hops and no malt is present or at least can be clearly sensed.

M: It is medium complex, almost not sweetness at the beginning and then fast turns into bitter and hard bitter with long ending that leaves a medium nice sensation.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had to get to this one eventually...

Appearance - Pours a gently hazed amber hue with an orange heart and a stuff sudsy white head. Silly string-like lacing.

Smell - Pine resin, dry grasses, faint floral hops, and bready malt. Smells very dry with hop aromas that bring about thoughts of foliage and meadows. If I had to describe the nose in one word, it would have to be clean.

Taste -- While not as bracingly hop forward as many other APA's that have followed the trail blazed by SNPA, the hop character is still very much in the forefront. Deeply resinous with hints of prairie grasses and Spring flowers. Malting is dry and bready with the faintest shadow of honey sweetness.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-light in body with medium carbonation - lively, but not harsh on the tongue. Immensely drinkable.

Overall -- While not my start, this beer was the beer that launched a thousand beer nerds, probably in the hundreds of thousands by now. Crisp, clean, and very much an antithesis to other fizzy, yellowish water that, for most craft lovers, came before SNPA. Not my favorite APA, but after having so many in the style Sierra Nevada still holds its own after so many years.

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Photo of craftaholic
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a somewhat hazy golden color with a decent finger length head that hits the road after a few sips.

Smell: Hops are evident at the nose, a nice piney herbaceous aroma but nothing too overpowering; quite citrusy as well.

Taste: Super malty smooth from the first sip on... The hops were surprising for being a pale ale almost on par for a light IPA. While the hops are the main characteristic in flavor there is an earthy undertone that balances it out well.

Mouthfeel: Surprising medium body was expecting it to be very light, has enough carbonation and goes down smooth.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable but in my opinion would be too bland to session with.

Overall: One of the better pale ales i've had, has a tinge more hops which is a-ok in my book and the citrus really brings it all together.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This pours a clear amber with a two finger frothy head that dies down and leaves some lacing. On the nose I'm getting wet straw and grains with a little bit of citrus. In the mouth it's a combination of bready malts and a little bit of hop bitterness, with a nice, creamy mouthfeel and some slight bitterness sticking around for a medium finish. I guess this technically isn't a 'session beer,' but given its popularity and drinkability this is kind of a de facto American session ale these days.

EDIT - Having this again and had to knock it down a bit on aroma and overall, since overall is no longer drinkability.

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Photo of clabaugh
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, orange-brown with a thick, foamy head. The off-white head gives way to lacing that clings hardily to the glass.

Smell: Pleasant hoppy aroma imbued with some leafiness. A roasted maltiness also reveals itself in the scent of this beer.

Taste: The hops are less pronounced than the smell leads on. Still some palpable bitterness, but definitely subdued. The hops impart a certain pungent flavor, very much like lush grass. The malts are quite evident, present in toast-like flavor. There is some definite sweetness intermixed, maybe a trace of citrus.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, with good carbonation. Finishes a bit watery, which is a detriment.

Drinkability: Very consumable; not filling, well-balanced, and a good taste. Tends to leave a sticky, stale aftertaste that is not altogether pleasant though. Could pass for a decent session beer.

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Photo of TheFlern
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Honey. White head that dissipates to a thin layer. Small amounts of lacing.

Smell: hoppy and light. Small amount of malt aroma.

Taste: small malt and pretty bitter for a pale ale.

Mouthfeel: high carbonation. dry. drinkable.

Overall: This is a pretty good beer. If you want something easy drinking and cheap on a hot day don't pass this one up.

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Photo of mcallister
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good thick lathery head with very little lacing. The color of wet hay that was recently put through the blender.

Aromas are somewhat lackluster as nothing really jumps out at you. Somewhat hoppy, slight spicy characteristic.

But the taste is what truly makes this pale ale. Very balanced, with a good solid backbone of hop and malt. An interesting spicy wheat component is in this brew also.

The beer is very palatable and can help you through the long haul of a night especially if you end up at a non-beerfly type of establishment that doesn't have the best beer selection in town.

Very dependable especially at the price.

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Photo of JordonHoltzman
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: less than a finger's worth of foam. faded pretty quickly. it was white while it lasted. its an orangy color, dark orange. the lacing is nice despite sub-par head retention

smell: lack of strong aroma, i even put a finger in my nose to make sure my nose wasnt stuffed. i can smell the hops and some alcohol

taste: sweet, the slight bitterness in the front. the sweetness kicks hard in the back. the alcohol presence is there, but just the right amount

mouthfeel/drinkability/overall: this is a crisp beer for sure, definitely well carbonated. no sense of oily-ness. pretty filling. overall a solid beer.

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Photo of mnredsoxfan69
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Rich gold with a rocky off-white head, three fingers tall, leaving marked lacing on the glass as it settles to a 1/8" layer on the top.

S: Clean fresh smell, delicately hoppy, light citrus aroma.

T: Pleasantly bitter with white grapefruit tartness and a light malt backbone. Fruity with out being sweet.

M: Medium creamy body with a nice tingle on the tongue.

O: Very good to excellent and reasonably priced in a bomber+.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hate to say it, but in 2012 this one-time benchmark brew is uninspiring in comparison with other Californian pale ale offerings...

Pours a bright and clear copper amber, with decent white head and lacing resilience. Mild, malt-forward aroma lacks many of the anticipated "c" hop elements. Flavours are also mild, a well balanced caramelized malt sweetness followed by some citrus notes and an inoffensive bitterness.

Would rate this as a very well brewed "transition beer" that would be suitable for those overwhelmed by other craft APAs.

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Photo of earthboundagain
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ok this beer is the ambassador f the American Pale Ale, aka APA. This brew is a wonderful mix of malt and citrus hops. This brew is a good ice breaker for new craft drinkers and also goes well with many chicken dishes.

From Notes:

A: Bright straw color with a off white head. There is a lot of lacing.

S: Citrus hops and some bready malt in the background.

T: Ok we have citrus hops mixed with a malt backbone, some bitterness on the backend but not real harsh.

M: Oily mouthfeel with a lack of carbonation.

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Photo of arfenhouse
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Golden amber color. Average head retention and lacing.

S: Floral, citrus, pine, and spicy smell. Some caramel.

T: Taste is mainly grapefruit with spicy hop finish. Decent amount of malt in beginning. Bitterness is manageable.

M: Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Easy to drink.

O: I usually dink more malty beers so I'm not well acquainted with this style yet. Overall tasty and refreshing brew.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this so many times, it's bizarre I've never rated it yet. Tonight I had it on tap with dinner in Mountain View, CA. Nice clear orange color with 2-3 finger thick white foam. Good light aroma of hops, nice APA aroma. Flavor is also light, on the hoppy side. Excellent drinkability, a very nice session beer.

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Photo of jvajda
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Good orange-hoppy look.
Smell: Mostly hops on the nose.
Taste: A tasteful amount of hops and bitterness make this a well-balanced ale, from the perspective of a hop head.
Mouthfeel: High carbonation and bitterness make this beer very active in the mouth.
Drinkability: Well-balanced means easy to drink frequently.

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Photo of youngblood
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a nice amber/gold with nice white head. Head hangs around for a few minutes before fading adn lacing the glass.
S - Smells strongly of hop oil, mainly citric and bit of sweetness.
T - Again, the hops are the dominant flavor, strong citrus with some fruitiness also. Leaves the mouth with a bit of honey sweetness.
M - Nicely carbonated, leaves mouth slightly dry, very smooth.
D - Easy to drink many of these.

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Photo of Hahhbs
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I'm pretty new to the APA side of things, more of a dark brew, stout, bock type o' goy. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this beer, I fully expected an extremely hoppy bitterness that wasn't really prodominant in this beer.
Definitely one to get again.
As far as individual aspect thoughts:

A: A nice clear amber body with swirling yeast and a nicee thick off white, creamy head, with a decent retention and amount of lacing. Darker than I expected.

S: I wasn't impressed with the smell. I expected at least a little aroma, but it was lacking heavily in that department. Most IPA's i can smell from top pop.. this APA however only had a sliggghttt hint of citrus and a slight malty hint. not much.

T: Very smooth, clean, lager type taste with a biscuity maltiness that i didn't expect at all. There were several hints of citrus notes and a woody floral taste, more-so pine esque hints. I was pleasantly surprised by the full yet lite flavor of this beer. Very warm clean finish.

M: A very smooth fluffy head and an even smoother body. It went down smooth and poured smooth. A beer that definitely belongs in the silkier side of the beer world.

D: I could definitely kill a sixer of this beer. I only had one, but a few additional bro's would've been nice to kick back on. A definite re-visit is in order, as my first APA, I'm certain it's found a long lasting place in my heart.

An overall B+

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,956 ratings.
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