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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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2,970 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

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 2,970 | Ratings: 11,040
Photo of Pete_2112
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ah, a classic. With a beautiful light amber color, and a smell that is orgasmic, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale tastes of perfect balance. Caramel, citrus, and pine. Just the perfect balance here. Great mouthfeel and overall perfection. I can't say anymore.

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Photo of Spike
3.46/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Dark orange. Three fingers lumpy, off-white head. Carbonation visible. Decent.

Citrus & pine. Classic american hope profile. But musty, and doesn't last. Some sweet malts eventually. Mixed.

Malty. Slightly sharp hop profile. Resinous. Mixed.

Light/medium body. Medium carbonation. Ok.

This was my music venue go-to when living in the States. When presented with the choice of Bud, Bud Light, Heineken Light or Sierra Nevada there was always going to be one winner. Not the best. But an early original. A trail blazer. Not sophisticated or gentle so best enjoyed in a busy environment with friends.

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Photo of matuka123
4.84/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Overall a great beer... I'm a starting beer connoiseur but Sierra Nevaduh Pale Ale is delicious BALANCED, GREAT Beer. And not so rare. But it costs more because I buy it in Finland, in the states you could get it for cheaper probably.

Awesome taste, hops, malt, deliciousness. Crisp balanced beer

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Photo of gmoneyproductions
4.78/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz can poured into pint glass
look is copper gold with decent white head
smell is complex started out just malty but as the beer warmed slightly i got piney, fruity citrusy notes that got stronger as the beer warmed
taste crisp and very easy to drink slightly fruity/citrusy very smooth!
aftertaste citrusy as well
love this beer first time reviewed but have been drinking them for years
tastes better from the can than the bottle fwiw

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Has the typical hoppy IPA or pale ale smell. Pours a nice golden color with a small off white color head. Very good carbonation also. Initial taste is kind of hoppy but not overpowering, mellows out to a mild slightly dry finish. Overall, I really enjoy this brew and will definitely buy more

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Photo of Stevem68
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a medium Amber color. Has an earthy hop aroma with a malty presence. Flavor followed the aroma. Smooth to drink and a solid beer overall. Can easily drink several of these

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Photo of puck1225
4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A classic! Golden color, nice head and lacing. Earthy, slightly bitter taste. Good balance between hops and malt tastes. I have had it many times but never did a review. Last type to drink from the Sierra Nevada Fall pack. Enjoyed it yet again!

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Photo of CanadianBacon
3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours clear golden amber with a big head subsides to a lacing that lasts throught the drink.

Aroma - buscuity malts and earthy hops.

Taste - Slight caramel and then it dives right into some grapefruit and earthy hops.

Mouth feel - Medium body dry finish not much carbonation.

Overall - Your typical american pale ale. Classic taste great to drink while watching tv or sports. Does what is supposed to do.

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Photo of J_Chavez15
4.85/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out amber color. Good lacing on the glass. Smells of citrus. Taste of malts and hops. Hops are definitely there. Medium body. Goes down smooth and semi dry. Topedo extra ipa is more drier than the pale ale. At 5.6% this beer is pretty enjoyable. Standard American pale ale.

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Photo of Strat58cat
3.31/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

This is a rough draft of a beer from a brewer that has developed into one of my favorites. Originating in 1980 as the original Sierra Nevada ale, Pale Ale notably did not conquer the world. Samuel Adams Boston Lager, in contrast, sort of did conquer the world. There's a good reason. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a landmark beer - truly supreme to anything on the market in 1985, and to this day among the best beers available. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - despite the great marketing, awesome art on the bottle, environmentalism, and quality ingredients - is only so-so. Of course, even though it's better, it couldn't conquer Budweiser. It's not even in the same ballpark as Boston Lager. I can see what they were trying to do with it - very clearly. They've realized their vision in other offerings since Pale Ale - for example, Torpedo and Nooner. Sierra Nevada makes fantastic beers - but this world-famous, historic ale isn't one of them.

I've never liked Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that much. I didn't like it that much when it was the new thing in the 1980s. I didn't like it that much when it was an established craft beer in the 1990s. I didn't like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that much in the 2000s when it achieved ubiquity. I tried it again last night. I still don't like it that much. Look, I know it's famous. It's just so-so.

Ironically, the shortcomings of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale seem to have driven the brewery to greater and greater heights of achievement. Today, Sierra Nevada can go toe-to-toe with any brewer in the world for overall quality. They make delicious beers. In contrast, Samuel Adams has struggled even to approach, much less surpass, Boston Lager.

Sierra Nevada has a defining aesthetic. Torpedo is a terrific IPA. Nooner is a sublime pilsner. Traded-off one with the other, these two beers compliment each other and reach insane heights, since they share a common aesthetic. The initial emergence of that Sierra Nevada aesthetic in Pale Ale, however, is just a rough draft.

The look of Pale Ale is its strong suit. It's a deep amber, suggesting toasty notes from roasted malts. Like many craft beers today - but nothing like what was available in 1980 - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale froths up a tight head of white foam, and retains it. The head laces to the bottom of the glass. The color is a simple, deep amber, suggesting a simple but high-quality brew.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has an old-school aroma. This is no IPA. The smell of hops is strong in this one, but they are blandish, dank hops. At most, there's a bare hint of pine. The aroma is very similar to Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's taste is overwhelmingly toast. Although the hops lend the dank aroma just noted, the taste is not notably impacted. Instead, I get a bland toasty flavor. It's a simple flavor, similar to perhaps the toasty malt backbone of Lagunitas. However, unlike in Lagunitas, there's nothing else going on and it's ho-hum. To my taste buds, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale tastes like bland toast. Then, suddenly, the hops make their presence known with a dramatic hop bitterness. Bland yet suddenly and unpleasantly bitter is not what I personally look for in a beer. Objectively, SNPA is not actually that bitter. The IBU is 37, while a fellow craft landmark from 1985, Boston Lager, is 30. I immensely enjoy IPAs with IBUs more than double SNPA. A Firestone Walker pale ale - Pale 31 - is more bitter than SNPA, but it works brilliantly there. The problem in SNPA is the combination of flavors, which falls far short of delicious. The dank but unremarkable hops and bland toast don't set the stage for bitterness. As a result, SNPA's bitter flavor is unwelcome and unpleasant. A novice chef might create a dish that featured a dank aroma, a bland flavor, and then bitterness. That's pretty much what happened here . . . but wait. What's this? There's a hops note that comes in, after the bitterness. It hints of something remarkable. It hints of something terrific. Yes, that hops note has been expanded and turned into the delicious flavors of Sierra Nevada's more developed offerings, such as Torpedo and Nooner. Here, it saves the day. There's something special there after all, in the background. It's lurking behind a little too much boring dank hops aroma, and too much boring toast flavor, and too much unsupported bitterness. Yes, that special note has been turned into a symphony of spectacular flavors in later brews from Sierra Nevada. SNPA is a special beer, because it's the starting point for greatness. Put together, the flavors make for a so-so ale, but it is refreshing.

The feel of SNPA is solid. It's neither watery nor thick. Carbonation is medium as well. There's nothing amiss with the feel.

Sierra Nevada has accomplished tremendous brews. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is their first brew, but not nearly the best. It's a so-so beer that charted a course to later great beers.

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Photo of qrazvan
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A great beer from US. The smell is proving his flowery notes from the moment you pour the beer in your glass. The colour is a light brown. A classic pale ale taste, with a lot of hops. Can't go wrong with this one. Recommended!

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Photo of dcscientist
3.94/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is exactly what I expected, a classic West Coast APA. There's a reason this beer is so popular...try one and find out for yourself. I'd order this again. Nothing too adventurous, but a good representation of the style.

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Photo of codekiln
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bright honey, good lace, little head

Metallic, fruity (notes of banana), floral, hoppy

Starts with caramel notes, washes into a steady hoppy bitterness

A very pleasing, drinkable choice. Decent beer all around!

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Photo of JacobusFavier23
4.08/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L-Pours a very nice amber, solid finger and a half foamy head that dissipates fairly quickly.
S-Citrusy hop smell, I love it. Very appealing and floral aroma.
T-Super mellow with notes of pine and slight citrus. Theres a great hoppy flavor too. Yet above all, not harsh.
F-Strong carbonation but super drinkable.
O-This is such a GOOD beer. Its everything you'd want in a pale ale. Citrusy, floral and hoppy yet it is still so drinkable. This beer is so easy to get too. Try it, you'll like it.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: gold-amber with 2-3 fingers of off-white head that settles to a film, leaving some lacing
Smell: citrusy, lightly piney and floral
Taste: A nice mild maltiness balanced by a moderate citrusy hops presence. Finishes with moderate bitterness
Feel: medium body with average carbonation

Overall: It had been a while since I last tried this classic. It turns out it is better than I remembered. It is a great all-around brew - full-flavored yet refreshing with a moderate ABV, it's an excellent value as well.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
3.84/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a speiglau IPA glass.

Color is a light amber golden. With a nice frothy head.

Aroma is light maybe a slight citrus.

Taste is a balanced pale ale with a nice hop bite.

Excellent pale ale.

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Photo of TtheGrey
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally tried this beer after years of hearing about it. I stayed away, cause I am not really a hops guy and I figured it would be really hoppy. Not the case. Very well balanced, I will be having this one again!!!

Update, after having this one again and again it is now my favorite and I will give it a 5 across the board! Only problem I am having is finding it on tap at my local drinking establishments.

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Photo of Tom_Banjo
3.68/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

1 12 ounce bottle followed a couple of weeks later by a 26 ounce bottle. Poured into
a Spiegelau stemmed tulip glass. Have not had this beer in years (for no particular reason that I can recall) and was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. The smell was a bit "off" with respect to the 12 ounce, but there was no such problem with the large bottle. Really nice balance without the over-hopped quality I find with some APAs. No knocks. Could see this becoming an all year long staple for me.

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Photo of mrcharlie
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is my all time favorite, the beer that weened me off of Budweiser. It still has an amazing taste and appearance. Nothing much to add, other than I prefer the cans over bottles for some reason, quite possibly the most attractive cans in the business. I stocked up while they were selling for $11.99 a twelve pack, it is back to $16.00 now. Great no nonsense, flavorful, and approachable pale ale.

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Photo of RyanPoff
4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: About half a finger of head on a clear amber pour. Very bubbly and fresh, but not exceptional.

S: Malts, citrus, hops, and tropical fruits. Varied and complex.

T: A bit of a hop and citrus bite up front. Maltiness is more apparent as the beer warms and on the back end. It's pretty much the standard for the style.

M: Medium bodied, not thin not overly heavy. Perfect for where this should be.

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Photo of Dikfour
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: One finger of off white head has decent retention and medium+ lacing. Mild carbonation. Fairly translucent copper in color.

Smell: Sweet malts. Pineapple. Pine.

Taste: Lots of tropical fruit. Pineapple, peach, mango. Subtle bready malts. A little caramel. Mild pine and resin finish. Very complex. Supremely well balanced.

Feel: Dry finish. Fun carbonation. Medium body.

Overall: Love this beer. Great fruit. Great bread. Great hops. Just so well balanced. Price is right. No reason not to give this one a shot.

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Photo of ZakFaruki
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The go-to gas station brew, once upon a time this brew most likely made waves amongst a young and blossoming craft brew crowd, but now its over-marketed and overproduced. Even still though, its a brew that is far reaching and influential for the craft scene and I recommend all try it at least once. It's still a great choice before the king cobra and OE flavors.

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Photo of breardon1776
3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Always liked Sierra Nevada beers and they've been in the game a long time, but to me this is just an beer that's slightly above average. Nice amber/orange color and nice balance of hops and malt. Some lacing. Not overly bitter. Goes down smooth. A good beer with no gimmicks.

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Photo of Svingjo
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours a nice copper colour with a finger thick white head with good retention. - There is a nice citrus hop to the nose along with some pale malt and sweet bread. The hops start off much like the nose with a citrus side but then moves to a more earthy pine flavour along with some brown sugar and malty sweetness. There is a bit of a bready aftertaste there as well mixed in with a slight hoppy bitterness. The mouthfeel is quite rounded intend medium range with just the right amount of carbonation. An enjoyable pale ale.

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

I have to start this review with this: How in the world have I not rated this beer? Not only is this a staple as far as beer goes -- I have also had this one so many times I couldn't count if I tried. To Sierra Nevada this beer started my love for beer and I am sorry it has taken so long for me to give this beer the credit it is due.

Poured into a wine/snifter/tulip glass from a 12oz bottle

A - A really pretty translucent golden copper California sunset (I am coining this a crayon color), two finger very pretty white head and some sugar legs.

S - pine, pineapple, sugar, sweet malt, wet grains, very floral, baking yeast, fresh cut grass, a slight dank note. Smells like a perfect California day -- outside the cities of course.

T - pine, sugar, slight lager note, bittersweet malts, very grainy, crisp clean water, beautiful carbonation, dried tropical flowers, dried island fruits and perfectly hopped for a light, crisp yet flavorful pale ale.

M - medium body, perfectly balanced, wonderful complexity, medium plus carbonation, medium acidity and a wonderful sweet hop to sweet malt to bittersweet hop finish.

D/O - This beer is refreshing, crisp, taste, easy to drink, simple yet full of flavor -- a true masterly crafted ale for every beer/ale drinker. There isn't a lot to say about this one except thank you to the brewer himself.

Final Thoughts - This is a stable as far as I am concerned. The king of craft ales indeed. At a really nice 5.6% ABV this one will be enjoyed over and over again and you can't miss on it's $7-12 price line between sixers and 12 packs. You can also get this in a $3 32oz bottle.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 11,040 ratings.
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