Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings!

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

2,950 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,950 | Ratings: 10,958
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.

 393 characters

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.

 755 characters

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.

 622 characters

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.

 1,176 characters

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.

 817 characters

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.

 616 characters

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.

 880 characters

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.

 360 characters

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.

 640 characters

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.

 617 characters

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+.

 428 characters

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.

 540 characters

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.

 516 characters

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.

 411 characters

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.

 315 characters

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.

 330 characters

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.

 419 characters

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+

 1,408 characters

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

Poured into a pint.

A: Dark golden. Heavy carbonation pours into a half finger, off-white, bubbly head. Settles into a sparse smattering of carbonation on the surface. Bubbles stick to the sides of the glass at first, and light carbonation continues to rise throughout. Carbonation eventually completely dissipates. No lacing to speak of.

S: Wheat, hops, hint of orange.

T: Sharp hops on a wheaty foundation, a touch of citrus.

M: Carbonated. Light and bitter. Hops assault the tastebuds. A bit of metallic aftertaste.

D: Good drinkability. Easy drinkin'. A certain refreshing quality.

Really solid pale ale. Decent atmosphere, not a very complex flavor but good for hopheads. Does have a bit of a metallic feel, but good drinkability.

 741 characters

Photo of 99bottles
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had one of these the other night and I can't believe that I never bothered to review this beer that I drink pretty frequently.

Apperance: SNPA pours a golden-amber color and had a nice inch of white sticky head that laces the glass. What I think of when I think pale ale.

Smell: This guy smell like he tastes. Hoppy and slick, with some small malt footing.

Taste: Mmm, mmm. Good old SNPA. This has a ton of Cascade hops pushing a tangy bitterness. They hit hard at first sip, but then they settle down and stop attacking your tastebuds. A good malt base of sweet biscuits balances this over time.

Mouthfeel: Slippery hop oil is the most dominant factor and gives this beer a somewhat heavier mouthfeel than most pale ales.

Drinkability: Yes please. This beer has such a wide distribution, I find myself getting it a lot at restaurants and bars that whose selections are only American macros and this. I could drink these for awhile, but if I had other more exotic beers to choose from this would easily be passed over. The classic American micro to whom we are all indebted.

 1,092 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

the sierra nevada flagship brew, more of an ipa than a straight pale ale, but a delicious beer nonetheless. a complex and robust hop nose is enticing, and the balanced flavor, medium body and effervescent carbonation make this a staple in most good bars. this is much hoppier than other american pale ales, but is not heavy as some can be. it is highly drinkable with a slightly bitter finish and an extraordinary crispness. the colder the better. a little less delicious when it warms up, so drink it swiftly for sure. one of the very first beers to define what cascade hops taste like, well ahead of its time, often copied but rarely equaled. the american craft standard.

 673 characters

Photo of Tonyjenlasc
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look - Crystal clear, darkish golden color, decent amount of carbonation
Smell - Biscuity/bready malts, earth, spice, lemony type citrus
Taste - Spice, biscuity malts, floral, earthy, faint hints of citrus, slight caramel sweetness
Feel - smooth, balanced, super easy drinking, medium bodied

Overall - A classic indeed but nothing overly special here. But if you're looking for a well balanced, easy drinking and always available pale ale....you should give this one a try.

 478 characters

Photo of jamesrobertson86
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- golden orange. Fluffy, messy head. Low head retention.

S- tropical fruits, pineapple.

T- bitterness at the forefront, slight stone fruit and melon flavours. Bitterness comes through at the end as well. A metalic hint lingers.

M- relatively high carbonation, rough and uneven. Kind of like home brew. Dry finish.

D- very sessionable. Bitterness stands out as almost being offensive. The APA style is not something I'm accustomed to which may have put me off a bit. I can see why this is a classic.

 506 characters

Photo of Tilley4
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had a couple of pints with some blackened grouper while watching a Tampa Bay sunset over the water...

Arrives a dark reddish golden with a thin wispy head ... Not that great....

Faint citrusy hop aromas and a sweet mat bill characterize this one... This one seems to have more pop in the bottle but who knows how long this one has been tapped.... This one is ok...

Sweet roasted malts with a tangy citrus finish... Fairly solid but nothing to write home about...

A nice solid little brew to have with a meal...

 514 characters

Photo of Parky1
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Copper-coloured, virtually no head is present.

Hoppy, with hints of caramel.

Sharp and hoppy, slightly bitter.

Light, fizzy and dry.

I've had a few in the past and will no doubt have a few more in the future.

 253 characters

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 2,950 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.