Sierra Nevada Brown Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
210 Reviews
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.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 210 | Ratings: 241
Photo of RBorsato
4.71/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Perfect brown color with a nice full tan head, decent carbonation, and sheets of lace. Nicely balanced malt and hop aroma -- some light malt nutiness. A fairly hoppy example of the style which suits me just fine. Medium bodied and smooth with perfect balance !

Very nice - A near perfect ABA and a definite re-buy ! Glad to see it bottled finally as I only had this once before on-tap years ago and loved it !

Per Label: "East Kent Golding hops"

'2006' version ('6218' printed on label)
Tasted: 10/29/06

($7.99 / 6-pack)

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Photo of rayjay
4.55/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at the brewery. I loved every drop of this beer! Small layer of foam that laced the whole glass. Pretty moderate carbonation, but on par for a force-carbonated beer. Very fresh and clean ale. Medium brown clear beer. Excellent pale ale malt backbone meets delicious chocolate malts, some light carmels, and mild but loud hops. Very refreshing, dry finish; almost no residual sugars. The malt body is just right, never too much, but firm enough to carry the beer. Thirsh-quenchingly light, hoppy, bitter, and slightly tart aftertaste. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, with a hard water feel. Perfect drinkability. Would be excellent from the firkin. Highly recommended, and my favorite brown ale anywhere. Cheers!

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Photo of MisterClean
4.53/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Sac Brew Company's Sierra Nevada night.

A - Poured a deep brown, with a 2-fingered, orange-white head, which dissipated moderately slow and left beautiful lacing. Excellent.

S - Burnt toffee, nuttiness, and light bread.

T - Burnt toffee, nuttiness, chocolate, and light bread.

M - Full-bodied, well-balanced, and smooth.

D - Definitely one of the top 3 brown ales I've had. A classic example. Very sessionable. Not enough credit is going to this category for a very complex beer.

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Photo of russpowell
4.44/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours caramel/brown with a 4 fingers+ white head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Rich nutty & malty notes

T: Nice citric hop attack on the tip of the tounge, followed by hints of brown sugar. Finishes dry & nutty

MF: Chey, medium bodied with super balance & carbonation

Drinks too easy, another winner from SN, liked this much more than their IPA, a good solid brown!

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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 sulldaddy
4.39/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a cellar temp bottle from 2006. Poured into a pint glass. The beer pours a clear chestnut color with minimal beige head that fades to an edge layer fairly quickly. Aroma is sweet chocolate, roasted malt and brown sugar. First sip reveals an average body with fine fizzy carbonation. Flavor is similar to nose with sweet brown sugar and caramel mixing with a lot of roasted malt. The finish is roasty and lingers for a while. there is also a hint of herbal hops that sneak in on the finish. Very enjoyable beer and drinkable.
Thanks to beerman599 for the bottle!

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Photo of HappyHourHero
4.38/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thick light tan head held for a couple of minutes and left a good amount of lacing. The smell was malty with a touch of hoppy coffee. Beer was mahogany in color, with a moderately thick body and a nice bubble mouthfeel. The taste was smooth,malty and creamy, with a solid amount of hops. The aftertaste was lightly bitter. I would be drinking this more often if I could get it locally.

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Photo of JizackFH
4.38/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at the Sierra Nevada Draft Takeover at Bierkraft in Brooklyn, NY.

A - This beer pours a nice clearish brown color, that has a nice tan head on it. The head had good retention, and left a decent amount of lacing on the glass.

S - This smells of toasted malts, nuts, and chocolate. There is also a nice spicy hop aroma present.

T - The taste is of toasted malts, a lot of nuttiness, and a nice hop bite. There are also nice notes of bittersweet chocolate and toffee. The finish tastes of Caramel sweetness and some hoppy bitterness as well.

M - It has a nice medium body and moderate carbonation. It is nicely balanced, and there is also a slight tingly feel as well as a bit of a chewy quality to it.

D - This has high drinkability. It is one of my favorite brown ales that I have tried so far. It is nicely balanced, and has a great hop character to it. I could drink this beer all the time. It is a great beer, and I'm glad I got the chance to try it. Good job SN, good job.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.37/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Quite surprised to see this on tap, was I! Darkish brown in color with ruby highlights, and topped by a thin, very light tan head. Great lace down the glass. Aroma is malty, slightly nutty, with the signature Sierra Nevada West-coast hop kick. The flavor manifests a really really nice toffee-like toasted maltiness, develops a light an unobtrusive fruitiness mid-palate, and finishes with a citric hop flavor which balances the overall sweetness of the beer and lends a nice crispness to the mouthfeel. Medium-bodied with a dry finish, this beer doesn't disappoint at all.

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Photo of flexabull
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, I think Sierra really improved this one.

I remember tasting this one a few years ago, and it was decent. But I think they have improved it now that they have bottled it.

Pours a nice brown color with a small head.

The beer has that roasted malt smell, with just a faint touch of hops.

The taste is excellent. Much like a well done British Brown. In fact, this beer reminds me of Newcastle, but turned up maybe a notch on the malt and hops. Think Newcastle but just a bit more malty and hoppy. Good Stuff! Very drinkable.

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Photo of Offa
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was fortunate in being able to try a cask version of this and it was very tasty and enjoyable.

It's slightly amber brown with a pretty dense tan head that slowly diminishes and leaves a little lace.

It has a chocolatey caramel character with a dried, stewed fruitiness. It has no real coffee or burnt-bitter character but a light fruit hop bitterness to back up the sweetness. It's lihgt, but has a full, silky feel.

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Photo of rickcampie
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

there is a nice dark brown color with a red tint in the light, nice earhtly grassy hop aroma, good head and leaves nice lacing, taste is as good as color, earhtly hoppy taste with toffee an chocolate malts making an apperence. nice clean finish . one of the better browns out right now.

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Photo of bamadog
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this beer -- it's been a while since I've gone the route of a brown ale and the sweetness that I found in it was again a nice contrast the a lot of the bitters I've been drinking lately.

Appearance: Beautiful dark brown with hints of red -- reminded me of fine mahogony furniture. No real head to speak of, a thin lacing stuck to the edges but not much to right home about. Color really struck me though.

Smell: A little sweet and malty - with a nutty bitterness somewhere in there.

Taste: This was great - sweet, but then followed by that nutty bitterness, almost rooty (for lack of a better word). Aftertaste was a bit carmelly.

Mouthfeel: Coated evenly - no real drying action. Beer was just a little chewy.

Drinkability: High. I really liked this beer -- could easily drink it in a session as the flavor was wonderful and it wasn't too heavy at all. It tasted like the ABV wasn't quite as high as it turned out to be, so I'd likely feel it after a couple, but totally worth it.

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Photo of Gusler
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another treat sponsored by the fine people at the “Papago” brewery, have never had the chance to sample SNBA, as it rarely makes it this far. Shame “ON YOU” Sierra Nevada!

A transpicuous bruin color on the pour, the head pythonic in size, frothy in textures, light chocolate in color and the lace a fine covering sheet upon the glass. Nose is quite aromatic as the hops are up close and personal, sweet malt underpins this clean and fresh nose, start is thickly malt and somewhat sweet, top middling in feel. ZAP! The hops pop your palate like a jab from Mohammed Ali, crisply acidic, dry and a great beer as most all Sierra Nevada products tend to be, just irritates my colon, that its not more readily available in Arizona.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a fine, dark brown, the color of caramelized brown sugar, with gorgeous burnt umber highlights. Taupe head that leaves a dusting on the beer's surface. Fragrant coffee grounds and bitter chocolate aromas, mixed with herbal hops. First off, tastes of bitter grains and a touch of diacetyl. Metals in the mid palate and fresh, bitter hops that leave behind very little in the way of fruit notes. Very active toward the back of the palate in the finish. Medium body and carbonation -- not too much of each, which really makes for a drinkable beer. It's good to see this is bottles, as it's a very fine example of an American brown ale.

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Photo of mhaugan
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This weekend I picked up a sixer of the new Brown Ale from SN. I have been looking for something new to try out along with the changing weather, and since the only seasonal on the grocery store shelves is the Sam Adams Oktoberfest I turned to this brew. First impressions was it had a very light head with little or no lacing. A decent smell, just a hint of alcohol. Tried a taste and it was nice. It had the nice nutty flavor I was expecting from the color, but there was some hop and alcohol hints to it too. Overall this beer makes a great session beer with great drinkability.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a medium reddish brown with chunky slightly off-white head. Smell is a pleasant combination of roasted malt, caramel, and some mild fruitiness. Taste folllws the smell with a strong fruity taste, caramel also present, and a nice hoppy bitterness showing through. Finishes on the dry side. Great drinking beer. Could be a good session beer.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at the source. Gotta love business trips to Chico.
Appearance> warm dark brown color. lively. small head dissipates quickly. good lacing.
Smell> sour mash. huge toasty nose!
Taste>tangy, big hearty burnt toast taste, almost ashy hang, that immediately smoothes out. Complex. Great Brown.
Mouthfeel>V. pleasant. just right.
Drinkability> very much so.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glowing dark coppery brown with a small dark ivory capping of firm foam. Nice lacing in patchy frost glues to the glass. Keeps a good skim of foam always present throughout the session.

Pleasing aroma for a brown, one of the better noses, as most browns usually are pretty boring. This on the other hand is quite forward with a nice round bready tone with a soft browned roastyness, light brown sugar dusting, nuttiness, and some sweet vanilla.

Taste is solid, quite rounded and slow at first, as it takes a bit for the flavors to emerge as the front is easy going with light breadyness. It picks up from there with lots of nice qualities as it comes into the finishing areas with a slight toasted/browned edge. Husks, lightly dried hops with a pinch of citrus dryness, and a slimming vanilla sweetness keep a nice balance as it grabs a bit more breadyness late.

Feel is about medium, but more filling then most other browns as it seems to have bigger carbonation and bolder texture then some of the smoother, maltier browns. This has some nice weight to it. Nicely delicate finish with a feathery dryness floating.

A solid brown by SN. One that you can have more then two of and still have interest to open up some more.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer of this at Texas Liquors in Carlsbad, CA. I'm not a big fan of brown ales but figured the folks at Sierra Nevada would do right by the style. I wasn't disappointed.
Poured from the typical stubby 12oz bottle used by SN, this beer had a clear mahogany color upon which perched a firm half inch light tan head. Looked very tasty.
Smelled good, too. Nice nutty aroma blended in with rich toasted malt notes. Had a good counterpointing leafy hops aroma that made it all come together.
Taste was spot-on. Crisp with a substantial toasted malt bill undercut with hints of hazelnut and filberts. Finished with a solid leafy hops bitterness to make for a well-balanced brew. Feel was medium-bodied and well carbonated yet still smooth.
Overall, I felt SN's Brown was a fine example of the style. Drinkable almost to a fault, it's made me appreciate the style more. Definitely worth getting.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Sharply clear amber brown, with a massive off-white head, which retains quite well, and scattered, patchy lacing.

Aroma: Mild citrus hops view with notes of roasted coffee, bitter cocoa, nuts, and earth.

Taste: Opens with a deep bitter chocolate note, also nuts and citrus hops. The middle of the taste is dominated by bitter coffee notes. The taste closes with a lingering herbal hop note.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and full, pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A well-crafted American Brown Ale, the hops are not excessive, as is sometimes the case with examples of this style.

Presentation: Packaged in a short, twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a twist-off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Sampled on draft at Lucky Baldwin’s, Pasadena, CA on Saturday 18th September during the Sierra Nevada Beer Festival and a mini-BA Gathering. Served in a Sierra Nevada Pint Glass, $3 for the Pint.

Generic Sierra Nevada Tap Handle that is Dark Brown and has the words ‘Brown Ale’ in a Cream text.

Appearance: Dark brown, lovely rich thick head forms easily and lasts the whole drink, leaving some nice thick lacing that required a good Glass wash before I got my next SN offering. The conditioning supports the brown head and helps to maintain a decent ½” thick head at all times. Looks great!

Nose: Lots of nutty brown ale odors in this one, has a mild bitter to balance the toasted malts in the finish when deeply inhaled. Classic brown ale nose!

Taste: Nutty brown ale start, walnuts and hazelnuts mixed in with a light milk chocolate feel, all subdued in a malty brown ale, but definitely there, concentrate hard and you will the get flavors. Bitter finish, sharp hops sometimes accentuated by the solid carbonation really balanced the earlier malts and nuts. A real tasty brown ale.

Mouthfeel: A tad spiky on the tongue at first, maybe a little over-carbonated, perhaps just a lively keg, it was the first day of the Sierra Nevada Festival. Nevertheless, as the beer relaxed after a few sips the lively body was perfectly acceptable and matched the brown ale perfectly. Smooth with a bitter creaminess in the back end. Solid body for the style.

Drinkability: Nice enough offering that is a pleasant drinker. Presents little in the way of any hurdles to prevent you from enjoying this one long term. You can easily drink as much of this as you handle. I certainly wouldn’t complain if it was the only beer on offer for the rest of the night.

Overall: I actually tried this for the first time last week, I spied it a Naja’s, Redondo Beach and tried a pint there. The Brown Ale at LB’s had a fresher feel, and a little more vivacious body, but I actually enjoyed this one. Much better than a few of its counterparts, including an English one I could mention. Bet this one goes great with some greasy fat laden Fish n’ Chips n’ Mushy Peas covered in Salt, Malt Vinegar and HP Brown Sauce! Aye-Man!!

Yet again I find myself asking why this one is not more widely available on draft?! Recommended.

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Photo of FenwaySquid
4.23/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle, twist-off cap, no dating of any kind, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: pours a crystal clear dark brown color, no carbonation showing. The head formed a thick 2 fingers and faded slowly into some lacing that lasted throughout.

Aroma: Caramel and toasted malts.

Taste: All toasted malts throughout from beginning to end. A little sweetness in the middle yet slightly bitter in the end. Quite enjoyble.

Mouthfeel: Crisp yet very smooth. The carbonation fit perfectly.

Overall: An excellent American brown ale. tough to find on tap in my part of the country so great to see it finally in bottle. Ill be sure to buy it on a regular basis.

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Photo of brewmaster411
4.22/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a classic version of an American Brown Ale. The appearance is a nice dark brown with a tight tan colored head that coated the glass as I drank. The aroma is a wonderful blend of malt sweetness, hazelnut/cashew, and toasty bread with subdued hop aroma.

Mouth is well-bodied, good up-front carbonation and a nice finish, and its just a well balanced and very drinkable beer.

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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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Sierra Nevada Brown Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.75 out of 5 based on 241 ratings.
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