Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
91
outstanding
3,007 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
3,007
Ratings:
11,184
Avg:
4.05
pDev:
11.6%
 
 
Wants:
311
Gots:
3,056
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,007 | Ratings: 11,184
Photo of GarthDanielson
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tumbler pint, the beer is an orange-copper coloring with a thin, filmy, sparse white coating on the surface. Aromas of citrus sweet and herbal spicing on a roasty, caramel backbone. The beer is smooth and crisp in mouth, thanks to the carbonation and the hops bitterness. Flavors are roasted caramel and a touch of smoke in the backbone, supporting a resiny, bitter hops profile that highlights alongside a citrus blend of lemon and grapefruit. Very well balanced, with a bitter, slightly drying aftertaste that again showcases some of the herbal highlights. Smooth, drying finish with some of the bitter and spice left to linger until the next sip. As I said of the former Draught Style, this brew is a staple of the APA style. Very tasty, and very sessionable.

 790 characters

Photo of Tone
4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden/yellow color. Decent head with little retention and little lacing. Smells strongly of hops. Fits the pale ale style quite nicely. Strong bitterness of hops with average carbonation. Could have a little more flavor, but overall very good beer.

 263 characters

Photo of Duff27
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a one fingered head on top of a dark orange/light red beer. Below average head retention and no lacing.

S- Smell is of faint oranges

T- Follows the smell with floral hops added, Light on the palate but very flavorful.

M- Good carbonation, feels nice in my mouth.

D/O- Drinkability on this is awesome...right up there with the best flavor&drinkability ratio there is. A gateway drug is there ever was one.

 417 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/01/04- Purchased at the local grocery store.

Appearance- Pours with a nice head with little puffy circles as the head dies away. Surprisingly decent lacing also.

Smell- Scent of hefty malt with a equally hefty amount of hops. Definite woody and floral scents.

Taste- Pretty much the perfect combo of malt and hops. A nice citrus tang to it. Maybe some apricot in there that goes well with a hoppy malt flavor.

Mouthfeel- Goes down nicely. Great level of carbonation. Slides down the throat with ease.

Drinkability- For some reason I get worn out on this beer when I drink it too often. For me it's maybe a 12 pack a year. A great pale ale, but one to be consumed only on occasion for me. A good pick though.

 725 characters

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

It was bound to happen sooner or later, I would review one of the beers that brought me to my craft beer revolution. Thank you Sierra Nevada pale ale for showing me the way into the light.

Beer served on draft at a local pub. Beer is clear and yellow with a white head that leaves some lacing on the glass. Carbonation is medium to high.

The aroma is hop filled, mostly citrus but there is some pine character in there. The hops smell great but they overwhelm me and I cannot detect anything else.

Beer has a medium body, and there is a lot of bitterness in the back of the mouth from the hops. There isn't much to speak of in the front or perhaps I am just distracted by the hop bitterness. Drinkability high. One of my favorite stand by beers that is readily available nearly everywhere.

 793 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a medium coppery amber with a half finger of off-white head with good retention and lacing. Nice aroma of light tropical fruit, citrus, pine, sweet malt. Flavor of mild sweet malt, tropical fruit, citrus, piney and citrus hops, finishing with piney, citrus and grassy hop bitterness. Awesome creamy medium body for a pale ale, great mouth feel. Seems slightly subdued after getting used to the abundant NW IPAs, but quickly won me over with a nicely balanced array of hop flavors and the creamy body augments the incredible balance of malt and hop in this ale. I understand why this is so highly regarded. A bit old fashioned in its flavors, but absolutely holding its own. A great pale ale from one of the world's great breweries.

 781 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.36/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottles purchased at Wegmans. Some chugged while playing Mario Kart Drunk Driving, one enjoyed later in a bit more relaxing manner. Poured into a shaker pint.

Pours a golden copper color, with a one inch head. Nice lacing down the glass.

Very floral and piney aromas here. A little bit of citrus, but this feels brash and earthy.

The taste is similar. Classic resinous pine bitterness that Sierra Nevada is known for, with some fresh cut grass and black pepper. Great hop flavors here from Cascade.

Very drinkable, one of the most drinkable hoppy beers on the market. Crisp, medium bodied, well carbonated.

The classic, and still a champion 30 years later. This one never gets tiring.

 689 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Perfectly executed ale , can from Brewforia. Dark golden with airy white head. Pleasant hoppy aroma, ale is perfect blend of malt and hops. Nice finish with light lingering aftertaste. Excellent!

 195 characters

Photo of Gavage
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice light bronze color with a thick head. The aroma is extremely satisfying, huge floral and citrus tones excite the nose. The taste is big - hoppy, sweet, fruity, and smooth. The hops and citrus last long into the aftertaste. This is a perfect example of the ultimate drinkable beer. Continues to be a staple in the refridgerator for me. All american pale ales should try to emulate this.

 398 characters

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

Well decided to buy some again, got introduce to it back around 97 in CA, one of the first micro's I've had. I've always liked the Pale Ale over the Stout and Porter. The color is golden brown and a mild taste. Goes down very easy with a great after taste. This has always been one of my favorites (Pale Ale). Highly recommended.

 329 characters

Photo of tempest
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bolder than English pale ale counterparts like Bass, Boddingtons or Old Speckled Hen. Served in a pint glass, the ale displays a golden amber color with a foamy white head. The aroma is of multi-grain bread and biscuit-like pale malts, with a sharp citrus and floral aroma. A dry, slightly tart caramel taste opens the flavor, followed by hops. Derived from Sierra Nevada's generous but balanced use of Cascade hops, the pale ale also brings tastes of lemon zest and grapefruit with a sweet, spicy finish.

 505 characters

Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a dark golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is dominated by hops. Taste is hops, some bitterness, a bit of malts at the finish. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall I tried this before and was unimpressed but now I found it to be a pretty good beer.

 291 characters

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

Poured into pint glass.
A darker golden color with nice foaming head that did lace.
Smell of hops and then some lemon and grass, maybe a pinch of ginger.
A good taste. Balanced (or should I say imbalanced) just right for a PA. Hops are the main note, with malt and lemon in the background for body. Nothing special on the mouthfeel, but that's good anyway.
Easy drinking, dangerous...can drink several without thinking of it.

 429 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in to a Duvel tulip

A - Light amber colour with a lot of thick white head that slowly dissipated; slight lacing. Some visible carbonation.

S - The nose is a balance between hops and malts. The malts are slightly more predominant and are sweet, with some caramel. The hops are present but not to the degree that I expected. There is a floral hop aroma (not really much citrus, which is what I expected).

T - The taste follows the nose - sweet malts with an ever so faint hint of floral hops. The hops initially came through more so in the aftertaste, but after getting half way thorough the bottle the hops became more notable with some citrus and floral notes.

M - Light to medium body; some chew and also a nice smoothness to it. The carbonation is noticeable and is the expected amount for this style.

D - An excellent pale ale. This is pretty close to being a session beer IMO. I could easily slug back a sixer in a night. A great all round example of this style.

 981 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a pure gold color with a thin white lace head. The aroma is great. It has all the right stuff; hops, pale and carapils malts, and a floral nose. The taste is great. Again, it has a nice malt palate with a floral hop flavor that really makes this beer. The mouthfeel is good. This is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a beautiful beer that drinks very well; an excellent pale ale.

 409 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

One of the three major craft beers you'll find at many establishments on draft (the others being Fat Tire and Boston Lager), I got this at Famous Dave's BBQ when I was in Fresno this weekend. Paired with BBQ beef tips, on to the beer:

What's to say that hasn't been said? It's a west-coast classic with it's own unique beat. Typical of American styles, it leans towards the hoppy profile, with a grapefruit/citrus aroma. From draft, it has a creamy feel that's good to the last drop. I'm glad to hear from casual beer drinkers that this is on thier list for thier favorite beers, so it has appeal for everyone.

 613 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this beer. I have drank it for years but never reviewed it.

Pours a clear orange color with a white head. The aroma is citrus hops with a lot of orange notes. The flavor is orange and other citrus with a medium amount of bitterness. High carbonation and a medium mouthfeel. An American classic that never disappoints.

 353 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.83/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A. On tap into a pint glass. Copper in color with a bit of lace.

S. Floral hoppage and some malts in the distance.

T. A good grassy hopping of some caramel malt. A bit of floral hops. Biscuity malt. Balanced well and nothing out of place.

M. Medium bodied and crisp. Ample amount of carbonation. Finishes slightly dry.

D. A nice pale ale. Pretty much the definition of the style. Solid and a worthy of a staple.

 415 characters

Photo of dar482
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer comes in a clear light ruby amber.

The aroma has sweet candied grapefruit and orange peel, floral, lots of malt, a big candy sweetness.

The taste goes the same with lemon, grapefruit peel, a medium bready malt in the middle, a punch of potpourri, spicy on the back, a hint of dry grainy quality in the back.

A light hoppy pale ale with a substantial yet relatively clean malt profile. Incredible that this recipe is almost 35 years old! Obviously it has been outshined by many world class brews, but this still stands on its own hoppy feet.

 554 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.54/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Let me say first off that I think this is a great beer. I really think they should be applauded for their role in the craft brewed revolution in this country. I think many of their products are excellent, and the snpa is the flagship. This used to be my favorite session beer. Why do I say used to be? Two reasons: first, I think this beer is not quite the beer it used to be. This is true both because it has stood still while great hoppy beers grew around it, but also because I think it has lost a little of its unique flavoe over the years. Second, I think this beer has had freshness and consistency problems as it has grown larger. I've had way to many snpas that were stale tasting if not downright skunky. This is particularly true on tap, but I've had some bad bottles too. I think its the beer, not the storage, but as snpas presence has become more ubiquitous, I'm sure there are more places that don't treat it right. Also, I think the tap beer is not as good as the bottles (Except maybe at the brewery- where its wonderful). The krausening in the bottles lends the brew a fruity yeastiness that is part of its charm. This is really lacking on tap, where an earthier taste comes through. When you find it really fresh and well handled, this can still be a near perfect brew, but its getting harder to find that way imo.

The beer came from the tap a beautiful copper color with a good head and excellent lacing throughout.

The smell is pretty good- earthy hops, but maybe with a little bit of a stale aroma as well. The draft lacks some of the fruity esters of the bottled.

The taste is still solid, fairly soft up front with a good earthy piney hop bitterness. A little stale on the finish.

The mouthfeel is fairly thin, but there is some creaminess there as well. The hops are pretty clean, but not a hop explosion. The thinner body helps the beer remain balanced.

Very drinkable, but best when really fresh. My scores are for draft at an average place. They would be higher at the brewery or in bottles.

 2,033 characters

Photo of plaid75
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice copper hue, with a one finger head. Good head retention and lacing.

The smell was rich with hop and grapefruit character. A light and airy aroma, which is inviting, in my experience, to non-craft drinkers.

The taste was crisp and dry. A very nice hop to malt balance, accented by grapefruit and flowery flavors.

The mouthfeel is crisp and clean, not too full and not too thin.

A very drinkable Pale Ale. In fact, I have found this to be a cross over beer for many people who are not experienced in craft brews.

In my opinion, a staple. I use this beer as a standard from which I measure every American Pale Ale I try. While few have exceeded this one in flavor and aroma, most fall short. Another plus is that it is readily available in most areas of the country I have visited.

 808 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Bourbon blue.

A- SNPA is a nice bright bronze color. Some spots of orange as well. A good sized sturdy head with white bubbles throughout stayed afloat. Some light lace stuck on the glass but barely.

S- A nice hop aroma from various strains giving off a floral aroma. I can smell a citrus a roma plus some malt leading its way to slight caramel. Very nice and pungent.

T- Was not expecting all the hops plus bitterness for a pale ale but this does fit the style. It's not overdone, it's just balanced. The malt gives off caramel at just the right time without interfering. In the finish is some toasted grain plus a bit of spice.

M- A step above medium bodied and oily. The bitterness is there but does not overcome. The malt addition works well in this nicely hopped pale ale. Creamy going down and a nice finish.

D- Good stuff, drinkable plus affordable, this one is a good package. Better off of the tap but fresh bottles are good as well. Low alcohol too which is also a plus. The balance is what sets this one off.

 1,034 characters

Photo of flagmantho
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: rich but light orange color with two fingers of ivory head. Nice lacing as the head dissipates.

Smell: nice collection of hop aromas. I get earthy, herby, a little citrusy and a little funky. A very nice balance; I like it.

Taste: smooth flavor if a little on the hoppy-bitter side. Malt is slightly sweet and caramel-flavored; hops tend more toward the earthy, funky and floral in the flavor than was the case in the aroma. Bitterness is quite high. Quite tasty.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good level of carbonation for the style. It works, though it doesn't blow me away.

Drinkability: pretty drinkable. Tried this out at band practice last week and it seemed to go down pretty well. It is probably even better with a burger outdoors in the summer.

 813 characters

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

A deep bodied yellow shaded in with tones of amber. A seemingly infinite number of tiny bubbles sprout up from the base and race to the top. Clarity exist but in a somewhat blurred state. The top half inch is peach hued and adhesive enough to envelop the glass above it.

Notes of citrus, grass and pine combine for a pleasant effervescence. It is a soft fruitiness that includes orange blossom and a squirt of lemon juice. The hop character is pronounced but moderate - it's not a smack to the sinus but rather a gentle tickling of the nostrils.

Hints of grapefruit and citrus fruit are noted in the flavour, too. More prevalent now, however, is the taste of lightly toasted, caramel laced malts. It's not exactly a rich, gooey presence but it adds an extra shot of flavour to what is otherwise a very simple beer.

The hops might snip at those not accustomed to bitterness but should definitely be considered restrained. The modest 37 IBUs add a nice underlying quench to each sip. Crisp mouthfeel and good carbonation only adds drinkability to what was already something quite tasty.

Sierra Nevada is rightfully regarded as the grandfather of the American craft beer revolution. Their pale ale was particularly inspirational for a generation of craft brewers that are now re-inventing old world styles and hopping at levels previously unheard of - All hail it !

 1,369 characters

Photo of tobelerone
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The iconic west coast pale, still a standard bearer for the style, although not as exciting as it once was. On draft, pours coppery gold, nearly clear, with a sizeable head that has good retention and lacing. Aroma is mostly citrusy hops; mild sweet and grainy malt underneath.

Flavor follows suit; primarily features the citrus hop notes of cascade and other C hop varieties; light caramel malt backbone; feels mild and lightly bitter after all these years of escalating hop bombs. Finish is mostly dry with lightly lingering bitterness in the aftertaste. Flavorful and easy to drink.

Medium body and carbonation; good smoothness in the draft version. An excellent choice on a night trapped in a shit-kickin' BMC bar, thankful for this option. Doesn't fire up the imagination and palate the way it did 20 odd years ago but still a reliable and satisfying drinker.

 866 characters

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 11,184 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe