Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale
11,678 Ratings
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

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 11,678 |  Reviews: 3,089
Photo of Dmann
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally had this beer on tap the other night at a great pool hall in the neighborhood and wow! This was much smoother on tap and the beer had a much more pronounced malt character than it does in the bottle. The floral hoppyness was still there, but in a much more balanced way. I had about 5 of these on tap and they went down so good I could have had 5 more!

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Photo of chaduvel
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Golden copper in color rocky head. Aromas of sweet malts and spicy hops. Taste is fresh and piney, but perfect balanced between a mellow sweet malt backbone and cascading sapy hops. One of the most drinkable beers in existence and a fantastic gateway to good beer.

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Photo of theozag
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very much like Newcastle Brown Ale but with a more heavily bodied experience, SNPA - like many pale ales - is only to be considered pale in comparison to stout. SN is nearly as dark as Newcastle, and has many of the same flavor characteristics as the famous Brown Ale. SN definately qualifies as a full-bodied ale with an almost nut-like finish. The texture is pleasantly palpable, and the first drop on the tongue has gentle a warming characteristic.

- Backdated tasting: I first reviewed this beer on 19JUN03, this post is based on notes from that review. -

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Photo of Gavage
4.52/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

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Photo of CBFanWish
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bronzy color to this one. It left little or no head. the smell was somewhat sweet at first but became super hoppy.
This was an interesting beer. I found it to be rather meaty, if that is a word to describe beer. But I was sort of overwelmed. This is not normally like me. I can drink the hoppy brews with the best of them. I did like pale ale. It is something I will drink again, but I can't make this a daily drink. I'm a wierdo and a hippy.

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Photo of Webby64
4.06/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!


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

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.

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Photo of AbePhroman
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of grynder33
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of arizcards
4.27/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!

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Photo of beerguy101
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Ianhockey91
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of AsburyParkJMH
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

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Photo of granger10
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of neg007
5/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

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Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

#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.

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Photo of TripelJ
4.8/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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!

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Photo of DarrellK
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of Sixpack595
2.45/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

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.

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Photo of Realale
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.03 out of 5 with 11,678 ratings