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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: 11,046
Photo of stjarnflikka
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden, all clear beer with a quite thick foam. It is somewhat orange in colour and has a nice carbonation.

Smell is malts, an orange sweetness. There are heavy traces of citrus in there and a flowery character to wrap up the sweetness, like the nectar of this beer :)

Taste is.. great. Its tihck and bready with a caramel like sweetness thats balanced with the bitterness. Butter and flowers flow throughout the sips.
Bitter and sweet blend perfectly and then comes the somewhat prickly alcohol and a large bitterness in the aftetaste together with spicy traces.

 578 characters

Photo of Crotor
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours crystal clear light amber with two fingers of off-white head that lingers, laces, and threatend to dimple. An ideal appearance for an APA.

Smells of bready malt and slight, citrus hops. No esters. Nice and *clean.*

Tastes crisp, with prominent, bready malt. Expertly balanced with the grapefruit rind hop flavor of Cascade hops. No yeast esters thanks to the 1056... Just clean, bready malt and citric hops in perfect balance. A simple and impressive profile.

The mouthfeel is fairly light, and slightly creamy. Entirely pleasant.

The drinkability is top-notch. This'd be a hard beer to grow tired of. Leaves me wanting more. Compliments a wide range of food, and does little damage to the palate. A hell of a session beer.

Goddamn. I'm damned impressed with SNPA this time around. For about the past two years I've only had it as my "fallback beer" when at restaurants, and it's usually been served way too cold, usually in one of those frosted tulip-pilsner glasses. Drinking it now, at the proper temperature (so that I can actually *taste* it) it's way more nuanced than I'd thought. When ice cold, all that I was able to taste were prominent, citrus hops. Now that it's warmed up, I can taste the depth of bready malt, and the hops seem to be in perfect, complimenting balance. This beer must've blow people's minds when it hit the market back in the 80s...

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Photo of santoslhalper
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearence: Pours a clear golden color with a frothy off-white head. Head leaves ok lacing, and a nice amount of carbonation is present.

Smell: Smells mainly of fresh, pungent hops with a decent malt presence. ver west coast smelling.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Tastes smooth and crisp with an almost pilsener-type hop taste. The malts are decent and balance it out well. It smooth and clean in the mouth, but a little too light-bodied for my tastes.

Drinkability and Overall: This is a classic APA that stands the taste of time. Simple and solid. Nothing unique but still a great session brew.

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Photo of aquaderek
3.52/5  rDev -13.1%

I love Chico, a fun school and a awesome beer. This beer can be found almost anywhere, and it never fails to come correct. It is much better on tap, on tap I would have given it all 5s. Lets get to the beer, pours a nice amber color, the nose is complex, pretty hoppy. The mouthfeel is great hoppy and spicy taste. Cannot go wrong with this beer. This beer will be around for a long time. I really like it with spicy food and pizza.

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Photo of Juggernaut
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one was excellent, a very nice gold amber color, with a white head, with good retention. Smelled of slite malt with a good hop aroma, that was very inviting.

The taste was great, very well balanced with a good bitterness that hits you and then slowly fades into some maltiness, with a possible hint of citrus. The smoothness and body of this beer is incredible, and it has a very light carbonation, all making for a beer that could be enjoyed for hours.

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Photo of bceaglejoe
3.63/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a dark gold amber into the glass, leaving a decent-sized head. It smelled hoppy, but it wasn't totally overpowering. The taste was smooth and crisp, leaving a slight aftertaste that disappeared quickly. After the initial hop hit on the tongue, subsequent sips proved pretty refreshing. It felt somewhat bitter on my tongue, but the bitterness contributed to the compexity of the flavors I was tasting. I don't know if I would drink many of these in succession, but this was a good dinner beer. I had it with somewhat spicy food, and it went pretty well. It would be interesting to try it with salads, or other types of entrees.

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Photo of dgallina
3.36/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear golden color with substantial creamy white head, lots of lace, and strong carbonation. Smell is strong hops on a grain background. Powerful grapefruit hop flavors with somewhat rough grain underpinnings. Very drinkable medium-light body.

Very fresh tasting, but with a disappointingly one-dimensional flavor profile. Lots of tasty grapefruit hop flavor, but no malts or additional complexity in sight. This sample just didn't measure up to the bottled versions I've had.

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Photo of MrNuggets
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big white head with good retention. Leaves me with strong lace. The light with a mix of grain and hops. Mmmm... balance, I like balance in my pale ales. Expecially in something I will be drinking alot of. Which this one is good for. Easy on the carbonation and about as drinkable as it gets.

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Photo of mobyfann
3.91/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Paid $6.99 for a 6'er for Turkey Day...


The beer pours a clear beautiful ambe rbrown base with a medium white head, good retention and lacing effects. The aroma was not really distinct so I give it an average.

However, the taste is very full which I like personally; it has notes of hops, a little malt, a little fruity and a little sweet; a real nice blend. The M&D life this beer to a new dimension. I have never been more impressed by a mainstream beer than this. It is extremely smooth all over and this is an ideal session beer, watch out @ 5.6%...

Final Thought: It's been over two years since I drank a SNPA but I am glad I refounded this relationship that will continue for quite some time.

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Photo of anders36
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This nice beer pours a copper colour, with a not so big head. The head reduces slowly leaving just a ring of foam. It has a fruity and hoppy smell with some hints of malt. Quite strong in carbonation, but it is balanced. The taste is malty and smooth and you can feel lots of fruity hops in the aftertaste. You also get alot of bitterness in the after taste. A really nice pale ale that i also have tasted on tap.

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Photo of Shaw
4.01/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice amber/copper color with a beautiful head that reduces to just a layer of foam. There's a bit of hop aroma, along with some malt smells and some weird things I can't identify.

The taste is good and well-balanced between sweet and bitter. Not being an IPA, it isn't bitter.

The body is good, too. Not too heavy but far from light.

This is the gold standard for American Pale Ales and a very drinkable beer. It's one of the best mass-market beers out there and can please beer geeks and beer newbies.

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Photo of hero27
4.52/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Drank this on-tap at Mulligan's in Cedar Falls, Iowa..

Appearance: Looks great in the 16-ounce pint glass. Dark, amber color with a fairly thin head. The thin cap stays the entire time, though..leaving a soft lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell: Definite citrousy hop aroma, which makes it difficult to smell much else. There are some fruity, and even woody undertones.. can pick up some sweet malts as well.

Taste: mmm, very well-balanced and smooth. Would be a superb session beer...for some reason I enjoyed this on tap much more than the large bomber I originally sampled this from. Sort of a lemony-hoppiness to the brew..with some very pleasant smooth malts for a nice, well-rounded taste. Finish is bitter and hoppy, as expected.

Mouthfeel: As creamy & smooth as I've ever seen from a pale ale. Moderate overall mouthfeel but slides down dangerously easy..

Drinkability: Fairly cheap and widely available. A staple of the APA style and one of my favorite beers to have on-tap in the area, since most of them have it. You could drink this all night long if you wanted to...and you'd enjoy it.

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Photo of bark
3.89/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The colour is brown-copper-red. The liquid is a bit cloudy, as the beer is bottle fermented. The pale yellow foam quickly dissolves into thin air.

The smell is very nice with a dominating sourish note. But there are also some fragrances like coffee, diacetyl, white bread and aroma hops.

The carbonation is quite strong, but not sharp.

The taste starts off with a mild malty taste, but that is soon replaced with a growing, fruity bitterness. The body is liberal with notes of bread, herbs and diacetyl. The finish and aftertaste is a mixture of mild hops (cascade?) and a sweet-sour note that reminds me of lemon curd.

A nice “micro” pale ale from a not-so-micro American brewer. On the whole, one may call this a nice beer.

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Photo of bigchris1313
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Golden yellow, with a white head.

Smell: Hops. And a smidgen of malt. But most importantly, hops, which for me is the selling point because I love hops.

Taste: What can I say, other than it is the epitome of the Pale Ale. More hops than a pilsner, with a tidbit more malt. Almost grassy.

Mouthfeel: Like a macro with more body and somehow "more solid" carbonation.

Drinkability: It gets a 4.5 because it's a solid beer that isn't very powerful.

Notes: What can I say about this beer? It's the beer that brought me into the realm of Beer Advocacy. This is the gateway drug of good beer. Furthermore, it's an incredible fall-back beer. If you're at a a moderate to nice bar in California, chances are they have this beer in bottles, so even if they fail to have anything incredible, you can usually get this beer. It's akin to having to drive your Cadillac while your Mercedes is in the shop.

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Photo of moocey
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz stubby bottle that is useless for homebrewing - poured into a freakishly designed beer mug.

Smell - Bready malty aroma and a ton of cascade hops. Not bad at all

Taste - Like homeade biscuits out of the oven! Yum! Bready biscuity malt up front that transitions into a citrusy, hoppy middle with a substantial smack of bitterness in the finish.

This is a great fallback here where I live. It can be found no matter where you are. This beer was my first introduction to hops.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/01/04- Purchased at the local grocery store.

Appearance- Pours with a nice head with little puffy circles as the head dies away. Surprisingly decent lacing also.

Smell- Scent of hefty malt with a equally hefty amount of hops. Definite woody and floral scents.

Taste- Pretty much the perfect combo of malt and hops. A nice citrus tang to it. Maybe some apricot in there that goes well with a hoppy malt flavor.

Mouthfeel- Goes down nicely. Great level of carbonation. Slides down the throat with ease.

Drinkability- For some reason I get worn out on this beer when I drink it too often. For me it's maybe a 12 pack a year. A great pale ale, but one to be consumed only on occasion for me. A good pick though.

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Photo of longarm
3.41/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An old stand-by, if there's a beer that hooked me on the APA style, it was this one many years ago. Certainly as in most things related to first loves, perceptions can be inflated due in part to relative experience and naivete. It should be interesting to see how this classic holds-up to closer inspection.

Appearance is light amber, showing light hints of caramel malt. The head is decent with moderate fluffiness that fades faster than I would like. Overall carbonation, however, holds quite well.

The aroma is unimpressive for the style. Somewhat dominated by alcohol odors, but mild doses of caramel malt wisp around too. Surprisingly, the aroma hops are extremely mild and less than I expected from memory.

Flavor has mild hop bitterness with tinges of pine. Malt helps to round-out the flavors, but a slight sourness on the finish detracts from the overall flavor profile. Bitterness masks this a little, but the off-flavor is certainly present.

The mouthfeel is slightly above average.

While it doesn't live up to expectations, this beer will always hold a special place with me and warrant the occasional purchase. It's decently balanced and a good transition to the wonderful world of American Pale Ales. Although I don't live there now, when I first started drinking this beer, I lived in Northern California. I have to wonder if freshness has a lot to do with the perceived drop-off in quality in this review.

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

Beer pours a light amber that is something slightly less than brillantly clear. White head sits on top. Smell is of citrusy hops. Taste of beer is of Cascade hops with a slight malt background, finish is all hops. Slight hint of mineraly water. Very drinkable and smooth beer with a nice body. Definatley a session beer.

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

Great beer, although I have to admit I expected a little more when I heard this was the prototypical APA. I guess I was expected the best APA ever, but I've had a few I liked better. Taste is nicely hopped, very full and complete. Citric hop tastes finish the sip appropriately. This is a perfect beer for slow sipping at a bar or at home, thankfully this is available almost everywhere. I have nothing more to add that hasn't been said numerous times already.

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

A very good pale ale. It is amber and very clear in it's appearance and it has a very slow natural carbonation and very little head.

It has a pleasant, hoppy/fruity/malty aroma that screams drink me. It's flavor is very much balanced between a hoppy bite and a malty sweetness, if a bit thin for a pale ale. It has a smooth creamy finish that makes this beer extremely drinkable. Not a bad beer at all and it makes for a nice session beer.

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

12 oz brown bottle.

Creamy off white head with some large bubbles; good retention. Some thin lacing throughout the glass. Clean and clear copper in color.

Moderate floral hop aromas with a bit of lemon.

Floral hops with a touch of a citrus quality: lemon, light pear, and light apple. A light bitterness at mid-sip that leads to a hop filled floral aftertaste. The standard of American Pales in terms of flavor.

Light bodied; crisp, clean, refreshing, and unobtrusive on the palate.

A highly drinkable Pale at 5.6% abv. A safety beer you can find everywhere and drink all night. Never a let down.

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Photo of KoG
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice amber hue with a good head that stays a bit then fades off to leave a little sticky lace.

Mmmm... smells great, nice and hoppy with a malt background that draws you in, gets even better when it warms up.

Taste is well balanced overall. At first it seems a bit hoppy, then sweetens up, but leaves just as it came with a nice crisp, refreshing finish and no tartness.

Mouth is good, nice carbonation and it goes down smooth, had this on tap as well and it seems a bit thicker.

Drinkability is nice, but I've never gone totally nuts for it, quenches thirst very well and takes the edge off if I need a good hop fix though. Overall a nice beer that is a good fallback for me if I can't find anything else.

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Photo of Globetrotter
3.65/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sampled at the Sophisticated Otter in Johnson City, TN, my SNPA came out a clear slightly reddish gold under a very thin white head that lingered well and left very good lace. Subdued flowery hops greet the nose, while the mouth is met by a very pricky medium-bodied sensation. Smooth malt contends with distinctive flowery hoppiness right from the start, with the hops winning out in the end. There's a very nice bite in the finish, followed by a good lingering bitterness. There's a reason why this is a solid stand-by brew. Can't go wrong here.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle pours an amber hue with a thin off - white head. Big floral, citrusy, pine sap smell. Medium bodied and nicely carbonated. Has a caramel malt sweetness up front flowing smoothly to a flowery, grapefruit hop bitterness to finish.
Very nicely done. Tastes just as good today as it did some twenty plus years ago.

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Photo of bultrey
4.11/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

How can anybody give this anything less than a 5 for drinkability? This is the One -- the beer that hopheads should revere for starting the richly hopped, highly complex pale and india pale ale craze. It is also perhaps a beer microbrew lovers in general should hold in high regard for sparking the renaissance that is currently in progress. I was a macro swill drinker in my early college years, and I remember my friends and I being shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that a beer still had yeast sediment in the bottom. What a revelation! Come to think of it, we said, how is it that all these other beers are brewed with yeast, but have no yeast left in the bottle? And so it began...

This is the simplest and best expression of the beauty that is Cascade hops. It is at once mouth-puckeringly hoppy and smoothly refreshing. This orange, pine, grapefruit, and flower-laden beauty dances over the tongue as gracefully and effortlessly as a butterfly flutters about a field of wildflowers, and is just sweet enough to make you think you can capture her -- but alas, she remains elusive.

Think about it -- you hopheads are spoiled and your tastebuds are burned out. SNPA is the king of pale ales. If you want to convert a macro drinker, start here.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.05 out of 5 based on 11,046 ratings.
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