Sierra Nevada Pale Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,000 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,000 | Ratings: 11,163
Photo of troutmask96
3.59/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A decent pale ale, nothing too special here. Pours a dark golden translucence with a large head. Very hoppy smelling, with notes of pine and citrus. Taste is actually quite bitter, much like an I.P.A. All in all, a good session brew and an one of my favorite choices when I have to shop at the grocery store and can't make it to my local bottle shop.

 350 characters

Photo of monkeybutler
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The consummate APA, to which all other APAs have to be matched up against. It's so deeply ingrained into what my idea of a solid APA is, it's almost a chicken-egg conundrum. Was there an APA before Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? Was there Sierra Nevada before there was an APA? The answer is yes, of course, but I wouldn't know because I'm 24 years old.

So what up-makes this APA? The answer seems obvious; all them west coast hops. That's the flavor, primarily, and the malt could only get in the way if it were to present itself any more strongly. We don't want any of those stinky esthery sweet flavors coming through to ruin our nice green, resiny American hop experience.

 675 characters

Photo of matdot
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap from Pastis in Dunwoody, Georgia. Accompanied by Filet Mignon and Truffle mashed potatoes.

Appearance: Golden orange with bubbles and a small one inch head. Bubbles filled the sides of the glass and were not trying to escape.

Smell: Sweet, caramel and butterscotch.

Taste: The taste of caramel and sweet malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, not heavy at all.

Drinkability: Great I drank three pints and it did not leave me bloated like other "filling" beers. Bring another!

 497 characters

Photo of BrewRunner
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Sierra Nevada beer I have had. I enjoyed it all around. The color was a nice gold, with an orange hue. The taste was bold, but not over powering with a very small after-taste, which is by no means unpleasant.

It goes down smooth, both when drank slowly and quickly. Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to trying other Sierra Nevada beers.

 370 characters

Photo of Troyone
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an apple juice color with a copper hue, three inch head that dissipated within minutes, and some carb action.

Smells like a light/moderate toasted caramel malt with grass/resin grapefruit/orange hops and hints of honey.

Taste has a light sweet acidic toasted caramel malt with the same hoppy taste as the smell and the background may have a slight licorice and cola flavor.

Has a medium body, dry slightly syrupy texture, soft and lively carbonation, and a slight metallic finish.

My choice of beer when at a bar with mostly a commercial beer selection, perfect session beer.

 585 characters

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

Sampled on-tap at the Overdraught in Cambridge, MA.

This pale ale poured a clear, amber color with white foam that clung to the glass. The smell was a very nice, floral hops aroma with some maltiness poking through the hops. The taste was malty but with a very large dose of flowery, floral hops and bitter hops especially in the finish. The mouthfeel was smooth and very pleasing to the palate. The body was medium with moderate carbonation feel. The fruity and floral hops lingered in the finish. This is a very, very nice pale ale, and one can see why it is considered a classic in the American Pale Ale style. I can't believe it took me this long to get around to reviewing it. I am going to have to remember to drink this one more often, or at least whenever I see it on tap.

 783 characters

Photo of rowew
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at a local wing joint. Almost as tasty as from the bottle, but I feel like the hops don't show up quite as well on tap. Still very drinkable, quite crisp and refreshing, and leaps and bounds better than most of the taps at typical bars in SoCal

 251 characters

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

Poured from a 24oz bottle.

Bright orangish amber with a small white head that sticks around leaving light lacing.

Has that west coast floral/piney hop aroma with some malt and grains underneath.

Also tastes like what one would expect a west side PA to taste. Dry and very hoppy with just enough malt to bring balance. The moderate carbonation is in line with a medium mouthfeel. Long dry finish that lingers but doesn't wear out its welcome.

A very drinkable brew that ,IMHO, sets the bar for west coast PAs. If you like Liberty Ale or Two Hearted, give this one a try.

 582 characters

Photo of DrJay
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Very clear amber colour topped by a thin lace of white head. Moderate retention and stickage. The aroma consists of floral, citrus and spicy hops with a bit of biscuit and grain. The flavour is balanced on the hoppy, bitter side. Mild sweetness with some maltiness, but mostly citrus and spicy hops with a dominating bitterness. Dry finish with a firm bitterness. Medium body and carbonation. Slightly crisp and acidic from the carbonation, but without having a coarse texture. This is a great session beer -- clean and full of flavour.

 536 characters

Photo of Shultzerdugen
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured golden-orange with a large frothy head.

Smelled of pine, grapefruit, with an underlying sweetness.

Assertive hops give a citrus bite at the top, creamy sweetness in the middle, then a long malty finish.

Smooth and creamy on the palette, little bit of carbon dioxide sting as well.

Nothing shabby about this beer, a great example of an APA, and one I look forward to having again, regardless of the time of year.

 431 characters

Photo of allengarvin
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Golden amber color, frothy head, and many fine bubbles. Aroma is fresh hop with a touch of sweet grain. Huge citric hop flavor up front with a lot of drying bitterness. Somewhat fruity, with a very mild malt character. Finishes clean and dry. Light, drinkable body.

Not as interesting or shocking a beer as it was 15 years ago, back when many of us had never had an American beer that was decent tasting, but it's still an emminently drinkable beer and an excellent session PA.

 480 characters

Photo of paterlodie
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poors in without a head and having a orange/peach color.
Nose is delicate; having a lot of hoparome that's mostly citrussy, some maltnotes and a nice yeastesterpallet mixed beautifully together. Taste is very smotth but still fresh; malts( pils and munich), litle sweetish before going into that citrussytaste and aftertaste again. Mouthfeel is great; probably as good as it was fresh but cause of the age( exp date 31-01-05) is freed from any edges( if there ever were...). Drinkability is good, only negatively influenced by the enormous price of 4 eur for a 350 ml botle.

 575 characters

Photo of karst
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's most popular beer is a delightful interpretation of a classic style. Pours deep amber color with a overly generous 3 finger frothy white head and long lasting lace. Cascade hops throw off fragrant orange bouquet and spicy flavor. Stong grapefruit crisp taste along with a full-body and complex character.
In their own words: “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the flagship beer, the one that made Chico famous. It is a flawless beer that opens with bright, perky high notes of maltiness and orange blossom and segues into a delectable hoppiness.”

Keep these around for session they are a sure hit!

 621 characters

Photo of Gaisgeil
3.48/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark gold with a thin wispy white head. Nose smells strongly of hops with notes of grass and citrus, very "summer" like. The taste is similar, though a bit more grainy and heavier tasting than I expected. Quite hoppy but a decent amount of malt character to match and balance.

Nice APA, but honestly, this is a pretty standard brew within the constraints of the style, very drinkable however.

 404 characters

Photo of ski271
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of the first beers I drank that got me away from the cheap domestic swill I drank too much of in college. I enjoyed this beer at lunch at Hiway Pizza in State College, PA on tap on a wonderfully spring-like day in February. There are noticeable differences between the bottle and draught, and I think I like it on tap better, but it’s also one of the best quality bottled APA’s out there. This is the APA to which I compare all others, due to its sentimental value to me and its widespread availability, and there’s only a select few I would take over Sierra Nevada (like Red Seal Ale).

This ale is a light amber color with a white, dense, mostly diminishing head with little lacing early. The aroma is more malty than I remembered, but still very nice. It’s also a bit piney and citrusy. The taste is marvelous! A wonderful balance of bready maltiness and bittering hops. The hops are noticeable right off the bat but still rather mellow, but the bitterness picks up a bit toward the finish. And there’s a slightly grapey taste in there. The finish is crisp, medium in length, but just so damned easy-drinking! I think it’s sweeter on tap than from bottle. One of the most refreshing beers out there. I highly recommend it!

 1,245 characters

Photo of mjc410
3.42/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown glass bottle

Appearance: Small white head over a deep amber-orange body.

Smell: Overpowering hops. I can't smell anything past it.

Taste: The malt shows up here, barely. Slightly sweet, bready. Then the hops kick in and wipes the floor with the malt. The hops are bitey, citric, high-acid. It's a dry, bitter, tough finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty average.

Drinkability: Tough on the senses. The hops are too much for me. I had to rate it a little above average because it has a respectable power and bite.

 542 characters

Photo of Vancer
3.53/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this before, of course, but never *rated* it. Read a lot of other reviews, kinda surprised by my appraisal of it: Perfect amber orange pour, head and lacing somewhat poor (old beer?). Many people wrote of the hop intensity, but I didn’t notice that much – my notes say a lite hop tang with nice dry aftertaste. Lite & spicy thoughout. Very good overall taste – will have to find it on tap and have another glass (or two).

 428 characters

Photo of Dithyramb
4.77/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One of my old standbys from way back when. SNPA is quite possibly one of the first micro-brews that started this long, strange trip for me. Had two bottles last night while at a very non-beer-knerd establishment.
Presentation: 12oz short brown twist cap bottle and the traditional green label that doesn’t appear to have changed much over the years.

Appearance: Decidedly orange, with a golden hint and a bit of chill haze. Doesn’t develop a long lasting head, but the white lace lays on top and clings all over the glass.

Smell: Raw hop leaves, grains, and a bit of something floral.

Taste: Extremely well balanced, yet tipped slightly into the hop bitterness category.
The hops are stinging when you first drink the brew, almost as if the beer is too cold and it is chilling your tongue. There is a very smooth, creamy, and bread laden malt undertone that holds up well. The hops tip the balance scale on the back end of the flavor profile. Citric floral hops finish, giving a slightly acidic and dry feeling. Very well crafted and worth a few. This beer is the standard of all other APA brews that have followed.

 1,128 characters

Photo of clvand0
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this many times, but never reviewed it. Here goes. It pours an orange/amber color with a small head that dies off quickly and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma is filled with American hops - citrus and grass. Not much else. The flavor has a nice caramel backing and then follows with the citrus hops. This is a solid APA. Nothing wrong at all. Drinkability is good.

 385 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've enjoyed this beer from the bottle many a time in the past, but I finally decided to order it on tap at my favorite bar earlier tonight. This is a stunning APA out of the bottle, but out of the tap it's frickin' exceptional. It pours to a clear amber color with a medium frothy white head that stays for most of the pint. The smell seemed somewhat subdued, though I have somewhat of a nasal cold. This didn't kill my judgement, however, as I could still smell the wonderfull citrusy/hop smell. Also, the retro-olfaction was actually improved somewhat, as the odors seemed to get caught up in all the mucuous from the cold. I will definately be revisiting this from the tap wherever available, particularly if there is nothing new to try (though the bar I had this at, the Sanctuary, still has quite an enourmous selection of beers that I haven't tried.) And like always, I could drink SNPA all night, from tap OR bottle.

 924 characters

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

12 oz., bottle conditioned with no freshness date. Pours a golden orange into the imperial pint glass with a 3 finger head that leaves some lacing and a thin blanket of foam. Couldn't resist pouring the yeast into the glass. Has a floral/metallic/grassy/citrus smell. Flavors are a hop spiciness up front with a lasting bitterness. Some floral/citrus notes (lemon?) and grains with the malts getting more pronounced as it warms, along with a bit of yeast. The carbonation is crisp at first but becomes smooth. Easy to drink. Overall a good pale ale with a wide enough distribution that you can always rely on it to satisfy your hop craving.

 640 characters

Photo of oracle
2.89/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle servered in a shaker style glass

Beer poured lightish to medium copper with a faint wisp of a head that quickly disappeared altogether.

Smell was faint at best, consisting primarily of hops and pine.

Taste was almost non-existant. Not hoppy enough with a sweet cloying finish.

Ugghhh. Sierra Nevada makes some damn fine beers (Bigfoot is still my all time favorite beer), but I'll pass on this one from now on.

 435 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 CVC
4.69/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Came in a dark brown 24 oz. (non-twist-off) bottle; served in a pint glass.

Pours a copper color with a two-finger white head. Dies somewhat slowly, and leaves some thin lace. Smells hoppy and herbal. Tastes really hoppy for a pale ale--also has a woody taste. Pretty carbonated. You know what SNPA tastes like. A balanced mouthfeel.

Ahh, the classic pale ale. The taste of this brings back good memories. This beer goes so well with any meal, especially pizza. Mmm. Anything by Sierra Nevada is always welcome in my pint glass.

 534 characters

Photo of Luigi
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I must say this is one of my favorite beers. Has a very hazy orange color to it. You can see the particals of yeast from the bottle conditioning. The head is fairly large and settles to a sticky lace around the glass. Smells hoppy with a little grain. Bitter spice, citrus,malts, and pine dominate the flavor. A very drinkable pale ale! I think it is the perfect session beer! In my opinion, Sierra Nevada Pale ale is truely a classic American beer!

 449 characters

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 11,163 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.