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 SetarconeX
4.23/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've got to say, this one has a particularly pretty color. A bit darker than a lot of pale ales, but almost exactly where I'd like it. Head isn't huge, but a light lacing hangs around for a remarkably long time, adding even more to the visual appeal. Smells exactly the way it tastes, maly, hoppy, but neither particularly overdone. There's a reason why this one's so well regarded. Being tasty, and remarkably easily available for its quality, this is for me effectively the standard against which other pale ales must be measured. So easy to get, that when looking at other pale ales, the first question just has to be "how's it stack up against Sierra Nevada?"

In summary, a good, solid ale. Easy to get, so you can drink it without worries, and better than the vast majority of everything out there. If only everything you got at the local grocery store was this good....

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Photo of hungryghost
3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Medium, amber color. The head is white and does not last too long.
Hints of citrus, hops (floral), and spice in the aroma and taste. The beer is refreshing to the pallete, the hoppiness is pleasant and not overpowering. The word refreshing comes to mind.

This is my favorite 'standby' beer. It never fails to please with a meal or at a pub with friends. It is popular enough now that it can be found in most establishments, even if the beer list goes from Lite to Bud to Sierra.
As long as they have Sierra I can get by.

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Photo of Mustard
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Squat 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best by" date; $5.99/6 from Ralph's.

Appearance: Pours a clear, vibrant gold with a thick, foamy, 1+" head; sturdy, ring-like lacing; excellent head retention.

Aroma: Largely of piney, citrusy hops.

Taste: Faintly sweet, biscuit-like maltiness upfront; crisp, piney, grapefruit-like hop bitterness in the finish. Medium bodied with a somehwat chewy mouthfeel.

Notes: Stellar session APA.

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Photo of ngandhi
4.37/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Fruitier out of the bottle. Maltier too. A rare occassion, indeed, but I like the bottle more than the tap. The tap's a little more astringent. Drinkability gets a 5 because this is an ideal session ale. A gorgeous beer. I buy it by the case.

It's not incredibly complex but the hops used here are delicious on the palette and nose -- evidence of intelligent, careful brewing. There are mild esters in the background but not unusually flowery like HopDevil. Bitter but not unpleasant. The hops here are a flavor, part-and-parcel of the beer, instead of some crazy quasi-adjunct that's there just to burn people's tongues off. There's even an influence of American pale lager in this beer on the nose, in a good way, -- somewhat Pilsnery. Clean, smooth body with a very controlled hop bite and medium malt. The flavors are delicately mellowed, but defined. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale isn't trying to prove anything. It drinks honest and pure.

Relax, relax.

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Photo of soilguy
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very good pale ale. The color is a straw-like orange with a white head that was dissapointingly short-lived. The layer of yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle assures you that this is indeed a bottle conditioned ale - a definite plus in my scorebook. A strong hop aroma is dominated by the classic citrusy scents of american hop varieties. The floral-citrus flavors in the beer are more subtle, but the hop bitterness is unmistakable. A thin mouthfeel is appropriate in this beer, and makes it more drinkable. A great summer thirst quencher.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It pours a dark gold, with a tan head and medium lace. The aroma was faint, mostly hops. The taste was HOPS- the typical SN Hops Madness. Somewhere underneath all the hops were faint malt and citrus peel notes. The mouthfeel was smooth, but not as oily as you might expect from all the HOPS! The finish, need I even mention it, was HOPS, of the bitter and tangy variety.

Maybe in another few years I'll be able to appreciate the Sierra Nevada over-the-top approach to hops, but right now? Nope...

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

12oz. bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada pint glass. It pours a light copper color with two fingers of head. There is awesome head retention and good lacing. The smell fills the nose with pine and citrus. A very nice aroma. The taste has some fruity esters and a tiny bit of sweetness. This beer has a very good balance, perfect amount of hops for a pale. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, but just a little light. The drinkability is awesome, and this is a great session pale.

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Photo of kmo1030
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

rich amber with a dicipating white head. sweet smelling, slightly citrusy, and sweetwith a little spice, a little grassy hops in there too. excelent taste with plenty of hops bitterness and flavor, some sweet spicy caramel malts seem to be present at the end, i don't pick up much more than that. great balance of carbonation and body.

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

It had been awhile since I had drank this beer so I had a pint the other night,pours a hazy deep orange with a pretty nice sticky head.The aroma is definently zesty hoppy and a little piney.Taste to me might be a little over the top hopwise very citruisy and dry,pretty good beer but would like a little more balance to this beer.It is a hop head classic though.

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Photo of SteveP
4.07/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am really pleased to get this - from what I understand this is the original American Pale Ale, a style which is making something of an impression over here in the UK, it's path having been laid by the popularity of the Golden Summer Ales which have a similar hop profile, though are softer and cleaner in the palate. The aroma is quite heavenly - delicate, floral and spicily citric, though that does die down after a while into something more grassy and rain like, even a touch metallic. When worked slightly the pale malt aroma does rise, but doesn't last long against the hops. The taste is surprisingly clean up front, but the sweet malt soon makes an appearance, slightly sticky but with a rounded body - a satisfying base from which the citric hops do their work, gradually taking over from the sweetness to emerge dark and tangy in the finish. A very pleasant beer.

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.53/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think this is, if nothing else, a standard to measure if Pale ales are poor, or, if they are elite. Drink When it's Hot, Drink it when it's cold. Drink the damn thing if it's 20 years old. It is a delight. Hoppy, but not overpowering. Sweet enough to make it that year round treat. Dry aftertaste indeed. But it has that pale ale citrus flavor that everyone loves. So drinkable, it is a shame more people do not love it. If it takes you more then a day to finish (given that you are one to finish a 6er in a day, extenouating circumstance not standing) you got some problems, cause even the "Bud-Light Boys" are down with this delight. Go, buy this and run to the hills and sign it's praises. You are dismissed

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

12 oz bottle with a quite brewing process write-up on the neckband.

Pours with a hazel hue, clear, with a smallish head that reduces to a nice sticky lace. Caramel aroma is surpassed by citrusy hops, with floral and herbal tones finding their way to your nose as well. The taste is earthy, with a moderate to low hop presence, and some peppery notes as well. The mouthfeel is appropriately carbonated & slightly coating, with hop oils relaxing on your pallet.
Notes: This is quite enjoyable. The hop levels are subdued for a pale ale, but perhaps this is closer to the intended style. It is apparently quite a popular beer, and I can see why – It can be equally embraced by the masses looking for a change, and beer geeks alike. Definitely piques my interest in American beers.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After getting home from my Saturday night softball league double-header, I opted for the SNPA over a Summerfest or a Stone IPA as the refresher of choice. Good pick!

Appearance: Poured a dark orange/amber with a creamy white head that refused to fade thanks to the ceaseless streams of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. Nice patchwork of lace left behind as the beer went down.

Smell: Citrusy/flora hops with a sweet malt aroma.

Taste: Starts off with a smooth sweet malt taste and citrus hops. Mellow, faintly piney bitterness builds slightly and leaves a soft lingering bitterness at the finish. Well balanced flavors of sweet and citrusy hops with hops only slightly dominating . Not crazy-hoppy.

Feel: Very clean and smooth. Not fizzy despite appearance of lots of carbonation.

Drinkability: This is a very easy-drinking beer, thanks to the nice balance of flavors and smooth, almost creamy feel. Perfect refresher after 3+ hours of softball on a warm summer evening. This one (and its pack-mate) disappeared quite quickly.

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Photo of taez555
4.52/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured a creamy white 1/2" inch head with a very clear amber/orange body. A slight yeast/chill haze.

The nose was a beautiful and very inviting even citrus hop/sweet malt nose. The hop dominating a bit.

The taste was a very smooth bitterness, dominated by an up front citrus hop flavor. Did I mention lots of citrus flavor? Classic cascade hop taste. It's almost more an IPA than a basic Pale Ale.
The malts are also very well balanced in this beer. Sweet and smooth. Not as present as the hops, but complimenting them perfectly.
It finishes with a long lingering bitterness that mellows nicely.

Basically this is the beer by which all other American Pale Ales are judged. It's a work of art and holds up no matter how sophisticated you think your beer palate is.

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Photo of dmarch
4.12/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear golden in color with wa thin white head that leaves a nice lace. Ah, the aroma. We all know that wonderful cascade aroma from sierra nevada. The taste is not bitter at all, but rather well balanced with a malty sweetness and the citrusy hops. This is a standard for anybody who truly loves beer.

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Photo of BierReise
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great summer beer. Nice amber body with decent head and retention. Cascade hops all the way. This is the ale that gave me the ability to detect Cascade hops in beer. I've drank so many it's kind of programmed in my senses. Light enough flavor and body for the hot Summer weather.Perfect session beer as well and one of the most consistent brews I know of.

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Photo of alexgash
4.6/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love this beer. This was my gateway beer to the world of hoppy beers. Pours a beautiful copper color with a fragrant white head. Sweet malts and refreshing, spicy hops flow from the top. Ahhhh! Taste starts with nice toffee malt sweetness that gracefully gives into perfectly matched hops. Nice oily, sprucey-bitter finish. Amazing balance leads to perfect drinkability. I'd buy it by the case if there weren't so many other great beers to try!

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Photo of Bruiser81
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The appearance of this beer was better than I expected. A nice dark copper color with an impressive rocky head, and there was some lacing. A malty sweetness is the first thing I noticed in the aroma as well as a crisp citrus smell. The taste is similiar to the nose with sweet malts up front. There is a little bit of hops bitterness in the middle and it finishes with a bit of citrus.
The balance of the brew was almost perfect. The mouthfeel was a little thin but a very drinkable brew.

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

Bottle from a six-pack purchased for $5.99 (I think it was on sale)at the local Rosauer's. Poured a nice golden amber, with a decent amount of white head. Gave off a nice scent of floral hops with a sweet malt smell in the background. Starts off sweetly like some English bitters I've had, and then the hops kick in. Whoa! Big hop zap! The hops definitely win out over the malt in a big way, finishing off with a big, crisp citrusy note. Mouthfeel is a little thin, but compared to a macro pale, its like a stout. Definitely hits the spot on a warm day (like,!), so long as you are not afraid of a little hoppiness - then again, who in their right mind gets a SN and DOESN'T expect hoppiness. What perplexes me is that my brother, who dislikes hoppiness (he won't even touch an IPA) loves this, and cites it as his favorite beer.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.24/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thick white head subsides at a medium pace. Nice amber color with adequate carbonation. The hops are very prevalent and this is refreshing for a pale ale. Aroma of citrussy hops with a hint of sweet malt. Mouthfeel is a bit light but good for a pale ale. the carbonation bits enough to let the hops ring through the maltiness. Overall a brew i would be happy to drink again.

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

12 oz bottle. Poured a golden amber color with a good head, that stuck around, leaving some lacing on the glass. Aroma is all hops, with maybe a hint of malt. The taste is malty and hoppy. Very smooth mouthfeel, and well balanced. I tried this beer once before quite a while ago, and didn't care for it. But after all this sampling, and being educated on good beers, I find that this is very enjoyable.

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Photo of DESTRO
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is the staple pale ale. pours a nice golden amber with a nice head, nice smell of hops and flowers. the taste is light and crisp, pleasant hop bite and floral notes. light and drying in the mouth. etremely refreshing light brew that is easily available and fits any situation.

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Photo of freed
4.72/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I consider this the benchmark. The continental divide. Beer flowing to the east should go back to the drawing board. Beer flowing to the west is how life should be. And those beers are tributaries that flow into the great standard. I don't mean to make SNPA sound like an amalgamation of beers, but its really just one of those great confluences of smell, appearance, taste, and enjoyment.

It pours a rich golden color. As the pour slows, the head billows up with a turbulent cap that settles with a nice crisp rim of foam. The aroma is of ample fresh hops, bursting is bright green flavors. The first sip is crisp, malty, and satisfying. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, its always the same taste. With a nice malt background the hops are a wonderful compliment. The biscuit and the citrus are a wonderful mix.

Maybe its the years of practice, but when in doubt, pick up a sixer and you'll be set.

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

Thin white head on an amber body, excellent white lacing remaining on the glass

Beautifully mellow malt aroma.

Malty, fresh made whole grain bread with wood pine on the finish

Medium body with a big feel to it what do I mean by that, I dunno.

Extremely easy to drink. Hey, where did it go?

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Photo of JoeyHotrod
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A truly wonderful beer. This beer was the one that made me a true and proud hophead. Upon pour the ale is a beautiful golden color with a nice head that sticks around for some time leaving a nice lace. A quick sniff of the beer instantly brings says hops. Not just any hops mind you, but cascade hops some of the most wonderful of all hops. Taste wise you are treated to full frontal hop brilliance. Some floral notes, citrus notes here and there with just enough malt to balance things out. Truly world class in every way and one of my personal faves.

Edit: 9-11-06

Going to have to drop my ratings just a tad after having this beer numerous times since this initial review from 2003.

While I'll always have a soft spot for this beer and will continue to drink it from time to time, I've since had better examples of the style. Still a classic.... though no longer world class imho.

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