Sierra Nevada Porter | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
1,430 Reviews
Sierra Nevada PorterSierra Nevada Porter

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-09-1999

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,430 | Ratings: 3,611
Photo of CNoj012
3.72/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a very dark brown with a light brown off white head. The smell is roasted malts with coffee and bakers chocolate. Taste follows suit, but is not as rich as the smell leads on. The feel of this beer is light and seems almost watered down. Overall the feel is the only drawback for me, but it is such a big drawback that I don't think I would purchase this beer again.

 382 characters

Photo of doktorhops
3.37/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Perhaps the last piece in the Porter puzzle comes from Sierra Nevada, a brewer I have long admired from afar in my home country of Oz-stralia. We know upfront that Sierra Nevada is well known for any beer with the words “pale” and “ale” in them, but how well do they approach the Porter style - with a slam-dunk like the equally-impressive-at-brewing-pale-ales Founders, or with a beer that is barely recognisable as a Porter like the example I just tried by Anchor? I suspect they’ll fall in between those two, but there is only one way to find out (aka ‘the fun part!’).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Quite light, more like a hazed darkened Amber than the usual black/browns you would get from a Porter - that in itself is a worrying sign of things to come - with a 2 cm wispy off-white head that sticks around well. Way too light is the final verdict here. 6/10.

S: Aroma is definitely more in the Porter ball-park than Anchor’s offering - with a dusty chocolate, earthy coffee aroma, and some lingering coffee cherry notes. I scored the Anchor higher because I like molasses, and that had bags of it, whereas this aroma is more in the right direction it definitely is lacking some heft. 7/10.

T: The above aromas are present in the flavour (with some added camp-fire smokiness) however it never really lifts the game from the aroma and is most certainly lacking in the flavour department. To wit - I’ve had better Australian Porters/Stouts than this, and Australia is hardly a Mecca for Porters. 7/10.

M: Body is much better than the Anchor lot - with a mid to light, borderline medium body, light carbonation, eminently drinkable but not Founders smooth (not many beers are Founders smooth). 7/10.

D: Sierra Nevada’s least impressive beer? I can safely say “umm, sure, why not” I may be assassinated (beerlitically) for saying this but this is by far the worst SN brew I’ve had so far, however that isn’t saying too much as all their other brews have been so bloody brilliant, they just dropped the ball on this one as far as I’m concerned. I’m not overly disappointed though, there are plenty of awesome Porters out there and there’s little need for SN to fill this niche for me, as long as they keep up the standard they’ve been keeping with their Pale Ales and IPAs I will continue to be a happy man. 6/10.

Food match: Despite (or due to) being a watered-down version of a Porter this brew would work well at that most classic of backyard functions - the BBQ.

 2,529 characters

Photo of Lahoi
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great beer with just a few shortcomings.

Very dark. Decent beige head that dissipates to nothing more than a collar within a few minutes. Lots of lacing.

Smell is quite simple. Too simple, maybe. A little sweet, a little toasted. Not bad.

Taste is more complex than the smell. Toasted, sweet, a little bitter in the finish. Good stuff.

I was hoping for a tad more body. It's not light, but it could be a little creamier. Well, the first half anyway. The second half was better. Perhaps the first half was too cold. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the beer. In fact, the last few ounces were the best.

For me, very similar to SN stout. The stout is a little sweeter, while the porter is a little more on the bitter side. This is a solid beer.

 756 characters

Photo of PhillyRiver
2.86/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Poured from bottle into porter glass. First beer of evening.
This is the second Sierra Nevada beer I thought was overrated. (The other was an IPA.) Doesn't pour as dark as some other porters, head doesn't linger (lacy though), prominent cardboard taste. Meh, sorry.

 267 characters

Photo of LennyOvies
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L- Very dark brown almost no light can go through. Beige creamy head.
S- Smooth toasted notes, coffee. Perceptible sweetness, caramel.
T- Black toast, coffee, roasted malt.
F- Smooth, crisp, a bit dry.
O- Very nice porter, a go-to for me.

 238 characters

Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Some great chocolate notes in the flavor go a long way in accenting the roasted malts. I'd say this is better than Sierra's stout, and is a great example of what I usually look for in a porter.

 194 characters

Photo of bark
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The colour is very dark brown, almost black (80 EBC), the liquid is clear. The two finger head is airy and beige. It sinks slowly leaving thick lacing.

The smell is smooth and roasted. Red berries, caramel, pumpernickel, some clean sweetness. Hints of caramelised orange peels and clean bitterness.

The taste is balanced with a notable bitterness, roasted malts, caramel, black toast and hints of charcoal. Medium body. The aftertaste got clean bitter notes in the background, hints of pumpernickel rye bread, toffee and dried red berries. The creamy finish reminds of caramel ice cream.

The carbonation is medium to strong, the small fresh bubbles short-lived. The liquid is semi-smooth and a little dry.

Theis porter is very clean and highly drinkable. A true classic!

 777 characters

Photo of JaimeLondon
3.07/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

It pours an extremely dark amber color and a small cream-colored foam with some bubbles.
Smell is poor, somethink like a decaf (mild coffe and some roasted malt)
Tastes like malts and coke, it's actually ok, but not very pleasant.
Feel is only good thing here; the beer is somewhat balanced and have a nice bitter end.

 318 characters

Photo of Mosant
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I bought a 6 pack of 12 oz bottles.
Appearance: pours dark golden syrup colour with good off-white head. Looks good.
Aroma: mild coffee aroma present as well as toasted malts coming through.
Flavour: great bitter coffee flavours and nice bitter finish. Very enjoyable.
Overall: I really liked other SV beers I have tried so I was looking forward to this one. It did not disappoint. While I have had better dark porters from Aussie craft brewers this is still a very good one by comparison. Looking forward to the next bottle!! (Now!).

 535 characters

Photo of Gajo74
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A solid Porter from Sierra Nevada. Pours a dark brown. A big woody aroma ,as well as malts, coffee and alcohol. Lots of roasted malts and wood, in the taste, are consistent with the aroma. Creamy and smooth feel, medium bodied to light, pretty drinkable.

 254 characters

Photo of Ryan4120
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L - Deep brown - almost black with a light tan head. Decent lacing
S - roasted malt with hints of chocolate and coffee
T - Follows the nose, roasted malt with nice notes of chocolate and coffee throughout - maybe even a slight amount of caramel. A little earthiness too it.
F - medium body with medium carbonation - smooth
O - A very solid porter. Nothing different or unique about it but it is a very solid representation.

 425 characters

Photo of fscottkey
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: [4.50] Dark brown cola color. The beer has a nice 1/2 finger of head. The head is tan and looks dense and rich. The head makes nice arcs of lace on the glass. The bottle lists the ABV (5.6%) and a born on date (11/05/14)

S: [4.50] Nice rich roasted and coffee notes. I had to double check the bottle to make sure it was "porter" and not coffee stout. It really has a nice bold roasted coffee aroma!

T: [3.75] The is coffee up front. I also get some subtle chocolate. The mid to late is roasted malts. The is a bit of sweetness late also.

M: [4.00] The carbonation is a bit above average. The body is slightly creamy and medium.

O: [4.00] I am impressed with this beer. It is rock solid. At 5.6% I could session a few of these together on a cold winter night. It is not excellent in any category - but it is very good in all of the categories.

 862 characters

Photo of Jeffsta1
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark color. Convincing. Pale tan head. Fine, reasonable persistence.

Smells a bit stale, but not lager-y.

Taste has a pleasant maltiness, but then a bitterness that doesn't entirely fit right with the rest of the beer.

Feels pretty good in the mouth.

Unfortunately this is consistent with my other impressions of Sierra Nevada - other than Bigfoot (good stuff!) I respect their beers more than I actually enjoy them.

 420 characters

Photo of Nugganooch
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle from the Winter Snowpack
Noted on 11/19/2014 – Sierra Nevada balloon glass

A: Super dark brown with some garnet hues as the light permeates the glass. Another thick heady production of light khaki cream over top. Retains for quite a while until sinking back into the glass. Lots of soapy lace left splashed upon the glass walls.

S: Dark roasted malts dusted with brown sugars and nutty cocoa powder. I get some mild bitter coffee notes in the nose with a finish of some stone fruit like esters. A touch earthy and a touch of roast char to it. Not bad at all and encompassing all the key characteristics for the style.

T: Dark roasted malts evoke some mild coffee and cocoa notes with a light smokiness coming through on the back end. Good dose of earthy hops lends a subtle bitterness that drives through to a dry roasted finish. Very mellow and easy drinking with some really nice balance.

M: Moderate to lightly filling with a smooth consistency provided by the carbonation. Lightly bitter and dry in the finish. Pretty clean and rounded out in the end.

D: A very satisfying take on the style. Sessionable with a smooth and well crafted approach. Nice roast flavors in good harmony without much else to overcomplicate things. Sierra Nevada does not produce a single bad beer.

 1,322 characters

Photo of drunkenmess
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice and thick. Liked the taste and feel, personally not one of my go to beers but still a very nice selection. I definitely prefer the stout instead, delicious.

 161 characters

Photo of PlutonowyManiek
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown color. Head large, beige.
The smell of rich caramel, roasted malt notes, gentle plum and raisin.
The flavor is richer than the aroma. We have a caramel, prunes, raisins in the background appears weak coffee, brown bread and little notes of chocolate. Porter from the Sierra Nevada is very smooth, almost velvety, drink it easily. Bitterness in the finish is delicate and very pleasant. On the downsides I could mention, too much saturation, and alcohol, which is strongly felt.

 488 characters

Photo of drmeto
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-pours a dark brown with ruby tinges
-strong coffee,caramel,dark chocolate
-Follows the nose plus raisins and a slight hop bitterniss
Fantastic Porter

 162 characters

Photo of arvidkoval
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L- Dark red, with an off-white head that did not hang around.

S- Very nutty aroma, not much else.

T- Roasty coffee flavor, more nuttiness, bittersweet chocolate, dry finish.

F- Bubbly, Watery feel.

O- Decent porter, good flavor.

 237 characters

Photo of Jadjunk
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

"Before Sierra Nevada was a reality, nights were spent perfecting homebrew recipes and dreaming of starting a brewery. One of our favorite beers was a porter. Made before roasted malts were readily available, we spent time in the kitchen roasting barley for our own malt. The result is a big malt flavor - rich, bittersweet and roasted." Brewed in the style of an American Porter. Available in 12 oz. bottled 6 packs and on draft.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a Sierra Nevada snifter glass. Served above 51 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a foamy cream mocha head over a dark brown body with soft garnet highlights. Retention is good and lacing is light and patchy. 4

(Smell) Moderately roasted barley, pale and toasted toffee malts with a moderate sweetness. Hints of earthy coffee and chocolate round out the aroma and the hop profile is subtle earthy with a modest bitterness. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) Starts and finishes on a moderate roasted malt note, generating subtle degrees of coffee bean and bittersweet chocolate, finishing on assertively toasted malts with a subtle drag of licorice spice well after the last sip. Sweetness is moderate but there is enough earthy bitterness from the specialty malts and roast to effectively balance the beer out. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) The texture is silky smooth, moderately oily and medium dry. Carbonation is medium generating a moderate frothiness and a medium crisp finish. Body is medium for the style, medium+ overall. Balance is slightly earthy bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is light and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) Sierra Nevada's take on the American Porter style plays it simple but effectively, with most of the flavor and depth originating from the roasted flavors of kilned barley malts. The flavor range, as simple as the ingredients going in may seem, generates an impressive range of flavor for such a highly drinkable body, which plays light yet smooth as is characteristic as per the style. Sierra Nevada keeps this beer about as close to a textbook example of an American Porter as they possibly could. There are no doubt superior, keenly original Porters and even many far inferior examples, but as challenging as it is locating American-brewed porters in year-round status in the Southeast, this one in particular may be the best option to balance availability, value and quality. At a reasonable price, it would warrant a repeat taste on occasion by me. 3.75

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s

 2,513 characters

Photo of EvoRich
4.34/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Pours a very deep dark brown color. A big, fluffy head which is retained well.

Smell: Very sweet, creamy, chocolate, and roasty aromas.

Taste: A very surprisingly sweet flavor all the way through. Chocolate and peanut butter flavors, roasted nuts and malts.

Feel: Carbonation is a big high. But the beer is smooth.

 326 characters

Photo of mchegash
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - 4/5
A muddy red-brown, with about a finger of tan light tan head.

Smell - 3.75/5
Delicious roasted malts, with hints of coffee and chocolate, and a light hoppiness. Slightly sweet smell

Taste - 3.75/5
Light slightly sweet malts, with a good amount of hops. The malts are roasty with coffee and chocolate flavors. The malts and hops are well balanced, although I would perhaps prefer a little more maltiness.

Mouthfeel - 3.75/5
Medium bodied, smooth, with a light amount of carbonation

Overall - 3.75/5
This was a decent beer. Not really that amazing, but decent.

 580 characters

Photo of CIBoy10
2.88/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Look - 12 oz. bottle into a chalice. Pour yields a nice off-white head that dissipates rapidly. Not much lacing. Opaque black coloring.

Smell - Loads of coffee. Smells bitter if that's possible.

Taste - Heavy on the coffee tasting hop bitterness. That's about all I get. Not much chocolate or anything else you'd expect. Maybe a little cocoa. The bitter finish lasts and sits on the tongue.

Feel - Feels very carbonated and crisp. Not necessarily a good thing for me. I like this style to be silky.

Overall - Not to my liking compared to many other widely distributed porters. Not terrible though. I probably wouldn't get it again.

 636 characters

Photo of DownSouthGeorgiaBrew
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Coffee and Beer, the two things I love, and this beer blends them together perfectly. Look: Dark Brown with a soft white head, and this beer left a fair amount of lacing around my glass as I drank. Smell: this beer had a wonderful aroma of coffee and cocoa. Taste: Awesome flavors of coffee, cocoa, and malts. Feel: Very carbonated and rich, which I loved. I'm not a fan of Sierra Nevada beers, but they've hit a homerun with this one.

 438 characters

Photo of maedhros09
3.91/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Dark brown, nearly black but still transparent. Very big head of light tan head with good retention and lacing

Smell: Lightly roasty and grassy/herbal hops

Taste: Light caramel sweetness and mildly roasty. Dry, robust grassy/herbal/floral hop finish

Feel: Light to medium body

Overall: In terms of color and flavor this is a lighter dry porter with a stronger than average hops presence particularly in the finish. Pretty easy drinking and very enjoyable.

 469 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I have really come to enjoy Sierra Nevada's offerings. I haven't tried their Porter yet, but I'm about to cross that bridge!

Appearance : top notch, chocolate brown in the glass and beautiful cranberry red held up to the light. The head is thick and juicy, khaki colored and leaving tons of webbed lacing behind. Just awesome.

Aroma : roasted barley, chocolate malts, honey, stiff hop, cocoa powder, plant.

Taste : very heavy hop presence, followed by cocoa and roasted malts. The hop is dominant throughout the tasting. The finish is dry roasted Cocoa malts and more hop. The more I drink it the more I enjoy it.

Mouthfeel : extremely zippy yet smooth. Medium to medium-light bodied. Ends dry.

Overall : a fine offering but way too much hop for my preference. It borders on Odell's Cutthroat, with its hop presence - but it is leagues better in my opinion. Nice cocoa and roasted notes, but lots of hop within a light to medium body.

 940 characters

Sierra Nevada Porter from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 3,611 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.