Sierra Nevada Brown Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Brown AleSierra Nevada Brown Ale
Very Good
241 Ratings
Sierra Nevada Brown AleSierra Nevada Brown Ale

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

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-19-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 241 |  Reviews: 210
Reviews by GreenWBush:
Photo of GreenWBush
4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a new Sierra Nevada six-pack (other than the classic colors) I get excited. I felt that way about the India Pale Ale, and I felt the same flutter when I saw this new and appropriately brown sixer-carrier.

This pours out of the bottle a deep brown with reddish highlights. It possesses an impressive poof, meringue, and lace, pretty much par for the Sierra Nevada course.

The nose is rather tentative and minimal as many SN beers are; bread, torched brown sugar, husky and nutty malts. Touch of earthy English hops make this one interesting and not just another (generally poor) brown ale.

Smooth and malt with a definite and pleasant hop bitterness. Some of the SN house flavor intrudes into the style of the beer which knocks it down a little. Still, much better than 95% of brown ales out there in that I actually like it and would have another.

Drinkability and mouthfeel are intertwined; its smoothness and low alcohol content make it an appealing choice and break from the monotony of the green, red, blue, and yellow portfolio.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Map Room. Pours a deep brown with hints of red coming through from the light. A nice off white head tops it all off. Smell is caramel roastiness, molasses and big citric, grapefruity hops. A nice nose, but a bit subdued overall.

First sip brings a bit of nutty caramel upfront, but citrusy hops run the show here. A nice bitterness follows on the back of the palate. This is definetly a hoppy brown ale...but I found it quite enjoyable. A bit more maltiness would help round it out.

There's a nice creamy body with good carbonation, but it's just a little thin overall. I could see myself having quite a few of these with no problem. A hophead's brown ale and another winner from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of chOAKbarrell
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

*On tap at Max's On Broadway, Fells Point, Baltimore.*

Interesting. This is about the 7th beer I've had from Sierra Nevada, and it is the first one I remember that did not have S.N.'s characteristic up-front cascade hops flavor to it.

So, I was a bit thrown. It looks like a nice healthy brown ale. Pretty subdued nose. I couldnt pick up too much of anything standing out. Same with the taste, really. Just kind of a normal brown ale.

Come to think of it, this beer was pretty average straight across the board. It wasnt a giant disappointment or anything, but it is definitely the least-impressive offering I have ever had from Sierra Nevada.

I cant be too harsh with my review, because I did enjoy the beer - it just didnt make my eyes widen, like most of S.N.'s beers do. I also recognize that I had a Smuttynose Pumpkin (check my review), bursting with flavor, right before this brown ale. Probably not the best sequence to drink in. I probably would have been able to pick up on more of the subtleties of this brown if I had not had my taste buds kicked into overdrive by the previous pumpkin ale.

I'll be trying Sierra Nevada's brown ale again. And possibly updating my review at a later time. It still gets decent points for drinkability.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. Pours a light tea brown with red highlights. It had a frothy white head that quickly diminishes and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet doughy malts, some toffee, nuts and tea and a little hoppiness.

The flavor is sweet roasted malts, some nuttiness and tea and a little english hop bitterness and some fruitiness. The mouthfeel is light bodied with some sharp carbonation.

Overall, a decent brown ale, but nothing too exciting.

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Photo of Jason
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: On Tap at Bukowski’s Tavern, Boston MA in a 16 oz pint glass.

Appearance: Thick creamy finger of head lasts most of the way down the glass, the clarity showed a stunning brassy brown hue.

Smell: Nutty toasted malt with hints of citric hop and faint roasted grain tones.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and crisp with an ideal amount of carbonation in the moderate body. Lots of fresh toasty malt on the palate, a hidden citric hop jumps out with an ample hit of bitterness. Nice rounded malty and toasted grain finish.

Notes: A treat finally to try this brew, without a doubt this is the standard for the American Brown Ale and delicious at that.

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Photo of Billolick
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lucky to try this one on tap at the Blind Tiger/NYC at their SN evening. Pours dark brown, able to see through it. Tan head, leaving well developed lacing. Chocolate malty nose. This is advertized as being almost Porterlike, and it lives up to it. Lots of chocolate and coffee noted, nice creamy mouthfeel and a typical snappy/hoppy finish. tasty stuff, give it a try if you get the chance!

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Photo of jcdiflorio
4.43/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pub glass,beautiful clear
ruby red color,thick dense white head,laces the glass with strings of tiny bubbles rising to the top,the head remained to the bottom of the glass.
A definite smell of chocolate,toffee,and toasty,sweet malty,slightly burnt aroma,with fruity hop overtones.Very complex.
The taste was chocolatly toffee-like,nutty,slight burnt taste with a tart fruit hop presense.
The mouthfeel was medium,slight cloying,well carbinated,with a dry,prickley finish.
A very well balanced beer,velvety smooth,and simply delicious.
One of the best brown ales i've ever tasted. A must try.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Dark brown and auburn. Thin tan head. Regular lacing down the glass.

Earthy and slightly nutty aroma. It's a welcome departure from the pine aromatics of most other Sierra Nevada beers and definitely appropriate for the style.

Earthy and bready, a touch of caramel and a slight nuttiness, along with some hop bitterness.

My favorite part of this beer is it's mouthfeel. In my experience, brown ales tend to be relatively thin and usually lack the body and heft I enjoy in my favorite beers, though this one is big, creamy, even a touch chewy. A pleasure to drink and a great vehicle for this beer's earthy flavor.

A great, classic brown ale. One of my firsts--one of my favorites.

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Photo of big_kevin
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

Photo of Thrasher
3.6/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I first tried this at Portland's Spring Beer & Wine Fest, and was thoroughly impressed, with fresh gummy hops and a balanced malt profile. If I was reviewing that sample, I would have given it a solid 4. But I'm not. This review is based on a recent sample at the Horse Brass Pub, and it's not quite as good as I remember, but this could be due to time, treatment, environment, or my mood. Dark brown, with small wispy head and good lacing. Toffeeish aroma, somewhat bland, but the HB is a smoky bar and I couldn't really get a good whiff. Roasty, nutty brown with trademark SN hops, not as blatant as they are in their other beers - which is true to the brown ale style. The dark, roasty malts are noticeably more robust than in your prototypical English examples, but they certainly aren't over the top. Very little yeast character (i.e. no butter). This is the most restrained and mellow Sierra Nevada beer that I've tried, and all the more authentic because of it. If you see this on tap, it's well worth trying, but you shouldn't kill yourself attempting to find some.

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Photo of far333
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Didn't even know this existed until I spied the tap handle yesterday. What a great discovery. Nice mahogany color topped with a small head of soda-esque bubbles. The aroma is slight, and is mostly of light hops. The mouthfeel was very smooth and inviting, and the flavor was a tremendous roasted malt with a hint of mocha. A slight hop bitter aftertaste. All that keeps coming to mind is smooooth. I will go back to this often.

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Photo of Dizzy
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours transparent brown with creamy off white head which it retains well. It leaves some lace on the glass. Aroma is faint roasted malts. Taste is carmel and roasted malts. Medium bodied a lot of carbonation. This is quite drinkable and a good brown ale. I enjoyed this one, this would be great session beer. I wish this were easier to find.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The ol' precursor to Tumbler. This one didn't stay in production long, I think it was only bottled one season. Anyways, brown ale poured brown, minimal head to it. Blase aroma here, fractional smell of roasted malt, but very reserved.

IBU and hops kept down in a SN beer, no way! This one was smooth, a little thicker than Newcastle. Reflections of nuttiness, caramel and toffee. Carbonation is spot on for creating a smooth experience. Not a bad beer, but with so much awesome stuff by SN, this one just didn't ever become anything I had beyond satiating my curiousity.

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Photo of ADR
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Transparent coppery brown appearance with a well-developed puffy light head of 3/4 of an inch in height. Leaves complex attractive laces. Toasted nut character to the aroma, slight whiff of noble hops. Body is lightish, but the carbonation is subdued, lending a pleasant sense of mouthfeel. Flavor profile is well laid out, good sense of balance in the style while retaining some uniqueness -- cookie dough and dark caramel, nice mix from the smell, an apparent but not heavy snap of peppery hop bittering at the close. A drinkable beer, not spectacular, but without any real flaws and with more personality than some well-known Browns such as Newcastle.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.18/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft up in Erie at Oscar's Pub. Appearance: Caramel amber brown hue nice silky texture tan head, leaves tons of even lacing it literally coats the pint glass. Aroma: Slight pine cone citrus quality to it very nice usage of hops with a crisp malty backbone touch of chocolate caramel like tones coming through. Taste: Brown ale characteristics darkly toasted malts smooth sweetness with a splash of hops coming through with an effective level of bitterness I like me a hoppy American brown well done brew. Mouthfeel: Medium bdoy generously hopped evenly carbonated nice smooth texture going down. Drinkability: One of the best brown ales I've ever tangled with enjoyed it very much so, will try to get some more in the future hope to see in the Burgh.

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

This beer pours a brown color, with a slight red tint to it. It has a thin , fluffy, light tan head. The head fades slowly, leaving a decent lacing.

This beer has nutty aroma. Behind that, I detect some toffee hints. It has a nice caramel malty aroma. It has a slight hoppy aroma also.

This beer tastes toffee like. It has a sweet caramel malt flavor. Some nutty flavor is also present. Also, a slight citrus hop flavor is detectable.

This beer is very smooth and creamy. It leaves a toffee like aftertaste.

This beer would probably make a good session beer. It tastes mild, and it is low in alcohol.

Overall: Thanks KingG for giving this one to me. It is a good Brown Ale. I might buy it again.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(Served in a American pint glass)

A- This beer is a warm amber-brown body that is crystal clear with a thick spongy brown head with a gentle carbonation of big bubbles.

S- The smell of brown malt with a yeasty green pine hop finish.

T- The light smooth brown malt flavor finishes with a spicy slight citrus hop note. Not much depth to the malt.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel with a big fizz finish boost the hops bitterness.

D- This beer has a big hop quality with a faint malt note and it is a bit watery and thin.

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Photo of SetarconeX
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rather nice looking brew, crystal clear brown with a reddish tint. Big froth that sticks around for quite a long time. Smell is mostly malt, but with a little whiff of hop.

Actually a hoppier than expected beer. That's not to say it's overhopped. A slight chocolate flavor, but again not too heavy. Just enough to give it a bit of flavor. A good, easy to drink beer that doesn't go overboard on any one aspect. Balanced.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of DagFishHead
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Classic brown ale chestnut body. Tightly-bubbled pilow head with great retention and lacing.
Smell: Underwhelming. Subtle whiff of hops...not much else.
Taste: Nutty, grainy, characteristic SN dry hop finish.
Mouthfeel: Light, reltively low carbonation feel.
Drinkability: A highly enjoyable brown... one that sets standards fo the style IMO.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This arrived in a good-looking brown color with minimal head. It left a very nice set of rings down the glass as I drank it.

The smell was decent, but the flavor wasn't anything special. It felt fine in the mouth and went down well, but the taste was almost of fake nuts. It was good, but I liked the others from that session much better.

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Photo of racer2k
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in to my favorite pint glass

A - Beer pours a clear dark brownish color and produces an off white two finger thick head which produces a heavy lacing around the glass.

S - A sweet caramel malty profile is very evident. There are also some fruity and hoppy characteristics that are on board with this beer as well.

T - A nice nutty roasted malt flavor that is sweet and also bitter at the same time. This creates a nice well rounded profile to the beer.

M - Light body with light to moderate carbonation present. Perhaps a bit of a thin mouth feel.

D - Very drinkable session beer. I have not seen this beer distributed in bottles in quite some time. It would be nice for the beer to be available via distribution again soon. Overall good beer.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at Sierra Nevada Brewery.
Poured a nice dark brown with a small tan head that melted to a mist of lacing.
Aroma was toasted malt, sweetness, nuts.
Taste was toasted malt and nuts finishing with an orange peel hops bitterness.
Mouthfeel was full of tiny carbonation making it feel creamy and smooth, then finishing to a dry hop finish.
Very drinkable....quenching for a brown ale due to the hop finish.
I definately enjoyed this one and wish i could find it in bottles.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
2.5/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Sierra Nevada- Brown Ale

Appearance- Heavy carbonated cola brown with a small quick fizzing head.
Smell- Light nuttiness with sweet sugary malt.
Taste- Sweet molasses malt with barely a touch of earthy hazelnut.
Mouthfeel- High carbonation, like a soda, with very little flavor.

Overall- Expecting so much more here. Very little flavor and bland at its best.

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Photo of Dewey0603
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a reddish brown with a large foamy tan head. This is a nice looking beer. The smell is a little light with some sweet malt aromas and some nuttyness. The taste is creamy with a roasted malt, nuts, and some citrus flavors that make this a damn good brown ale. The m/f is light and crisp with all the flavors mixing well. A very good beer from Sierra, I'm not big on brown ales,but this is very good.

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Sierra Nevada Brown Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 241 ratings