Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,007 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale

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

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: 3,007 | Ratings: 11,182
Photo of illidurit
2.95/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hey folks have you ever wanted an MGD with a blast of bitter one dimensional hops? Here's your beer.

Looks decent enough. Smells like rind. The malt, instead of light and crisp, tastes bready and doesn't serve to balance the hops. The beer is way overhopped, tasting of acrid pine needles. The bitterness is obnoxious and the beer isn't refreshing or balanced. HORRIBLY overrated, just like everything else from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Damian
2.96/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Drank on-tap at Sully's Pub, Hartford, CT

Poured a clear, reddish amber with a one-finger pillowy head. Some bits of spotty lacing.

Smell was hardly detectable initially. As the beer warmed, the aroma became somewhat more pronounced. Musty with a touch of citrusy hops in the background.

The taste was somewhat similar to the smell. Not much happening on the front end except maybe a touch of malty sweetness. As the beer moved to the rear of the palate, it became increasingly bitter but lacked the citrusy hop flavor that should have accompanied this. Somewhat grainy and resin-like on the back of the palate. Aftertaste was hoppy and bitter (orange peel was noticeable) and lingered on forever. (This was unquestionably the most impressive part of the beer.)

Mouthfeel was fairly creamy, smooth and full-bodied.

Overall, this beer was a disappointment, as it lacked the flavors and aromas needed to make up for its intense bitterness.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
2.96/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

They make this beer sound delicious… but it's really not. I mean, it's a good beer. But it's not a great beer by any means. This is a beer that is for someone that doesn't understand what craft beer is but wants to fit in at a party. Sure, Sierra Nevada makes some good beers. But this is just middle of the road in my opinion. I am impressed that a brewery can have such a hold on the market and that when someone thinks of a "pale ale" he or she generally thinks of Sierra Nevada. Sheryl called this beer, "boring". Can't say I disagree. But I will give this beer my FULL attention this evening.

In the Glass: I am really digging the color. It's a thick, rich golden color and reminds me of an imperial pilsner. I have been hooked on the Odell double pilsner. Tastes better on draft, though. The head is a thin white later on the top of the glass that just sits there begging to be drank. With as much as they produce of this beer, finding it is the easy part.

Nose: The aroma is that of a pale ale… subtle hop character with a simple, yet satisfying appeal. The aroma is nothing to write home about, and if they didn't tell me they used only whole-cone hops in this, I would never have been able to guess.

Flavor: It's been a while since I have had this beer, but it tastes about like what I remember. Initially there isn't much going on, then the hops start to work. It almost reminds me of an early IPA, and as my palate has changed, the expectations of a strong, powerful beer have also changed. Very rarely will you see me order a pale ale. After the subtle IPA overtones, it settles to a typical pale ale finish leading to the somewhat disappointing aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is decent. It has an almost creamy character on the tongue, and shoves some subtle carnation to the top of the mouth. Then you swallow, expecting some of those characteristics to still be there… but they're not. I guess for a beer that costs a buck a bottle, you can't expect much in terms of complexity.

Aftertaste: The aftertaste is nice, and while it sticks around for a few minutes, it dwindles from the second you swallow. It isn't as bitter as the book explains, but it's present reminding you that you are drinking a mouthful of hops.

This beer is decent at best. Since starting at Total Wine, I have been meeting a lot of people. Some are REALLY into craft beer, and others just want to get drunk on a Saturday night. This beer would be a good beer to introduce someone to that isn't into craft beer, but wants to understand what a hoppy, bitter beer tastes like. Sierra Nevada is a good brewery, but they have never released anything I feel was spectacular.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - The bottle says: "Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a completely natural ale. There are no additives, only the finest malted barley, whole hops, brewer's yeast, and crystal-clear water. The fine layer of yeast in each bottle is a result of the traditional bottle-conditioning process that produces carbonation naturally."

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
2.96/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sampled this on-tap at the brewery this past Thursday (09-03-2009). For those that don't know, every Thursday is cask night at the brewery. Following review written from notes.

Appearance: Two fingers of dense white head sit atop a hazy caramel body. When held to light, shimmers of yellow-orange appear around the edges. No apparent carbonation. Head retention is shorter than expected - quickly settles as a mere crown. Thick spotty lace.

Smell: Wow, lame. Hops have completely fallen out of this one. I get estery alcohol and toasted malt - that's all. This would hardly cut it as an English bitter. Boring.

Taste: Toasted malt and wood, with mild hoppy flavors in the finish. The bitterness and crispness are gone. The hops still affect the flavor profile and consistency, making the beer mildly piney, citrusy, and oily. Finishes grainy and grassy - a touch sour, a touch bitter.

Mouthfeel: There was actually more carbonation to this cask ale than I expected, which was kinda nice. Malty, chewy, light, and clean. The aftertaste is mild and centered around the barley.

Drinkability: I was pretty let down by this one. I was hoping that this cask conditioned SNPA would showcase the beer's malt profile; and while it did bring the malt side into the spotlight, I feel like this beer's shortcomings were just exposed. I didn't have a problem drinking this, but given my time constraints that night this felt like a waste. Oh well, now I know.

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Photo of ElGuapo
2.97/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

drank a few at work on a hot summer day with the wind at my back and the sun in my face. it was a special day, and this was not quite a special beer. i am not a huge fan of pale ales, but it was pretty good. i won't be a return customer, but it was good for a day

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Photo of tealeaf
2.97/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

well i have tried this beer on two occasions only, and both times i was not impressed. maybe it is because i am not a big pale ale fan.

Its a nice rustic gold, amber color.

i picked up alot of hops in the smell, there may have been a little hint of citrus in there too. i actually really liked the smell of this beer.

the taste is what throws me off.
the hops sort of punch out in the beginning and theres an after taste of more hops with a little bit of fruitiness, to me at least.

like it may be because i am not a big fan of pale ale even though there is a few i enjoy.

for me this beer was bearable for about half a glass and after that i had to struggle to drink it.

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Photo of Rock_Glenn
2.98/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

The Budweisser of Pale Ales? Maybe that's a bit harsh. The carbonation reminds me of a mass-produced American Lager, the malts seem non-existent, and the hops are an ugly mix of pine sap and bitterness. When I see this at a gas station, I grab it, because it's usually the best option you'll find there. Unfortunately it fits the mold of a gas station beer.

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Photo of mcgwire756
2.98/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner glass.

I have had this beer on multiple occasions and finally decided to review it.

Pours a golden yellow/orange with a large 3 finger head. Lacing is ok, but honestly this looks like almost any beer similar to this. No really stong smells but what is there is a bready malt with a little bit of pine. The taste is more bready malt at first, but after a while it just overbears your taste buds and it becomes a very bland malt beer. The mouthfeel is too prickly for more liking, and really brings down the drinkability after a while. It is ok for what it is, but not a great craft beer in my opinion.

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Photo of apbarwood
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bright, brownish-gold color with a small pure-white head. Retention is lacking with only the finest amount of lace. It takes a pretty aggressive pour to get some head. Aromas are faint but pleasant nonetheless. Ditto that on the flavor. You get what you'd expect basically but in small amounts with a good balance between fruit bitterness and pine with some herbal hop notes and just enough malt to hold everything together. The body is mediumish and the feel is slightly undercarbonated. The thing that this beer has going for it is that it's balanced exceptionally well, but it isn't going to knock anyone's socks off. I really wanted more out of it particularly from the hops. This is definitely brewed with the larger market in mind. That being said, it's not bad, there's nothing offensive about this beer at all and I think it's a good training wheel pale ale but fans of more flavorful styles of pales will be well suited to look elsewhere.

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Photo of Ragingbull
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer is another one that I would put on the "tough to review" list because of its familiarity. I had been drinking this long before a wide variety of microbrews became available likely due its wide distribution. Here is my attempt.

Rich roasted gold color with light head and some prickle. Mildly hoppy nose. Hops forward flavor and almost a hoppy attack. I am guessing the nose affects the initial attack as the smells from the glass impact the flavor. It stays hoppy through the finish but in a mild way. The aftertaste allows the hops to fade with a bubbly mouthfeel that dries and vanishes. My wife offered the comment that the aftertaste made her feel as if she had just licked an envelope. This beer is certainly one to throw in the cooler for a backyard BBQ, but it isn't likely one that I will keep on hand in my beer fridge. I think that I find myself lumping into the "old standards" by which everything else is judged and would have to call it average for that very purpose. There are going to be better beers and far worse beers. If you have nothing else to choose from you won't be disappointed, but if there is something else on the menu you haven't tried its probably worth trying the new beer.

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Photo of DownSouthGeorgiaBrew
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

World Class....Well, not in my world. LOOK: Honey colored with 1inch of bubble bath-like foam, and there was decent lacing. Smell: very mellow aroma of hops and piney. Taste: A malt presence up front, followed by a very mild hops and mellow bitterness. Feel: Mild carbonation and smooth...very drinkable. Overall, it was ok.

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Photo of SmashAdams
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a decent beer but certainly not a favorite of mine. My only problem with this beer is that it has no stand-out qualities to it. Nothing seems special or interesting about it other than it's a solid beer. nb

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Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The flagship for the style, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Pour is a copper color with a quick showing of a head that settles down into a collar. translucent.
Aroma has some grains and cereal malts with cascade style hops. The flavors of 'Merica. Some citrus gives some brightness to this ale and the malts keep it about perfectly balanced.
Mouthfeel is crisp enough to meet my desires.

This is the base that all other pale ales get judged to.

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Photo of workingclassbrew
3.02/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Ah my first ale of any kind pale, or IPA. This was introduced to me years ago by my friend Brian Watring. I think my thoughts at the time were bitter, Christmas tree along that line. This gave me a fine appreciation of the soon to try IPAs which I came to enjoy.
Poured into a English pub glass. Orange, golden colour, almost like an Oktoberfest.
Aroma off the bat, metallic, much like Yuengling Lord Chesterfield, or maybe thats cause I just read my review of that one, smell, definitely metallic, but not off putting. Dry,
Its been awhile, but the piney notes I dont really find anymore. More of a dry hop, dry malt, biscuit taste. Light easy drinking beer. Very good, although I know not as intriguing as when I first sipped the "green goblin". The price is still reasonable for a craft brew.

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Photo of escapements
3.02/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A=Nice color. Looks like beer, nothing special.

T=Hoppy as a pale ale should be (however, not my favorite), citrus & pine. Slight bitterness with a clean finish. Only slightly malt, could use more. Slight alcohol taste.

S=Citrus & hops

M=Smooth & dry which makes you want another sip

D=Not a bad overall beer, but lacks any outstanding qualities.

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Photo of ZachMcGinn
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Golden amber color. Very little head. Aroma brings out pine needles and caramel. Heavy hops makes for a bitter flavor and biting after taste. Sierra Nevada Pale ale has long been one of America's favorite pale ales. As someone who does not like IPA's, this one is bearable.

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Photo of maxson924
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

As far as "big craft beers" go, this is definitely not as good as Sam Adams. But it's fine, and I'll order one in a bar or restaurant if there's nothing better.

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Photo of dmfrench
3.03/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An average and forgettable APA.

A: Nice golden color, but the head is tiny and fleeting.

S: Not much there, save for a bit of citrus hops.

T: Fairly strong citrus hops with a creaminess underneath. The flavors are not well separated, and the overall presentation is somewhat cloudy like a wheatale and not very crisp like an APA, IMHO, should be.

M: OK, if not a bit grainy

D: Average

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Photo of Kulrak
3.04/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a golden orange color with absolutely no head. Smells of hops, cascade, I think. Strong hop flavor with some munich malt flavor. Somewhat citrusy with a bitter back end. I really taste almost nothing but hops. There's a little tongue scraping from the carbonation/hops. It's drinkable, but I wouldn't drink it every day.

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Photo of weissbierdrinker
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale copper color with a two finger light tan head that leaves very nice lacing around the glass.

Smell is slightly soupy with some malt notes.

Taste starts out hoppy with a very nice bitterness to it, then turns to a bit soapy dry finish.

Overall it's a very good beer that I would drink again.

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Photo of Frozensoul327
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I really like SNBC's beers, but this one didn't do anything for me. Poured out to a golden color with decent carbonation. Odors of spices were most present, and were slightly overpowering. Taste was complex, as i'm sure that's what they were going for. Flavors of bitterness, floral notes and hops were present. Finished with a smooth, yet strong bitter aftertaste. In no way a bad beer, but i've had better APA's. Still worth a try.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

2000 reviews and I somehow haven't done this one yet. Go figure. Bottled February 1st according to the bottle code. 5.6% ABV confirmed. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard ("Use Bottle Opener"!) pressure cap acquired at a local Trader Joe's and served into a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I'm rarely impressed with Sierra Nevada, but this is indisputably a classic craft beer which did a lot historically. Regardless of what I may or may not think about the beer after enjoying it, I do respect it.

Served straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

A: Pours a four finger beige colour head of nice cream and thickness, and good (~5 minute) retention. Little lacing as the head recedes. Body colour is a fairly vibrant pale copper; transparent and translucent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. It's generally appealing and is typical of the style. There's nothing unique or special here, but there are no overt flaws.

Sm: Floral hops, ejected shell casings (seriously), artificial pine, soap, and pale malts. The soapiness is bothersome, and becomes more reminiscent of detergent the more I smell the beer. Bubblegum. Yeah, this spent too long in primary. An average strength aroma that isn't particularly appealing.

T: Okay. Muted citrus, dominant soapy character, light artificial pine, and some mild floral hops. Bland pale malts form the foundation. There's not a whole lot going on here, and I'm none too keen on what is. Imbalanced and badly built for the style. A bit too bitter for the style as well, but it's also too sweet up front.

Mf: Way too dry on the finish, eradicating any refreshing feel that it might have had prior. Smooth and wet up front. Too thick all around. Overcarbonated, to boot. Weak. Doesn't suit the flavour all that well. Palate presence is okay.

Dr: I'll finish this bottle, but it's really not that drinkable for a pale ale. I'm shocked at how underwhelming this beer is given its influence on the style. I'll try to revisit this on-draught; maybe this was just an off bottle arbitrarily. As it stands, this is rather pedestrian and I see no reason to get it again. Hides its ABV well. Another disappointment from Sierra Nevada.


After the bottle review above, I tried it on-draught when it was the only decent option at a bar in Las Vegas. I actually found it to be much better on-draught, and would have given it a high C+ but wasn't in a reviewing mood at the time. I'll plan on revisiting this beer; it's so ubiquitous it'd be criminal not to.



04/12/17 impression from a can from the North Carolina facility (courtesy of Schlimenhaumer):

Definitely different than California-brewed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Hop pungency is lacking, the body is lighter, water chemistry seems different, the balance isn't as dialed in.

Call me crazy, but this doesn't hold up to the original.


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Photo of tjsmith910
3.06/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A bit of a weird dynamic here in my opinion. I purchased this product on a referral by a friend. I was fairly disappointed the first night as I finished off 3 of them. The next night, I just wanted them out of my refrigerator so I decided to finish the other 3. Big change from one night to the next. The first night, They seemed to taste like chilled thin cough syrup. But the next night I poured them into a pint glass and it is like the flavors mixed and matched and moved around to produce a rather tasty beer.

A - Pure transparent Orange color with off white 1 finger head that dissipated in about 2 minutes, leaving a light lace.

S - I rate all beers a 3 because of my lack of the sence of smell

T - Strong, lightly bitter and almost like sourdough bread.

M - Smooth follow through for an APA

O - Impressed by the ending of the product, glad I gave it a second round.

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Photo of Zorro
3.06/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I have a love/hate relationship with this brew. Some of the best and worst beers I have ever had were this brew. I believe that this is one beer that is very temperamental about how it is transported and stored.

Pours a clear orangish gold color.

Smell is malt, vanilla and hops smells bitterer than it tastes.

Taste is very mild yet full. This has a floral hop taste with a bit of oak flavor to it. A dry ale, I remember this being a bit sweeter in its draft form.

Mouthfeel is thicker than you would think.

Drinkability is good, but I prefer a Fuller's to this.

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Photo of Raebies
3.07/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Nice bright orange, lots of fizz and foam. Even before I got it into the glass I could smell something fruity and wonderful. Tastes of sweet tangerine and pineapple. Mild-moderate bitter hop flavour. It tastes like dogfish 60 minute but a little different.. soft, easy drinking. It is close to an IPA style beer, but not quite so bitter.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 11,182 ratings.
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