Sierra Nevada Brown Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 210 | Ratings: 241
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.31/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown pour, lighter brown head, 1/2". Aroma had some brown malt, but not much else going for it.

Above average hops, but not blowing out the style guidelines either. Tea, toffee, caramel, nuts. Smooth.

Good beer, but you know how this brown ale style goes. . .

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Photo of drabmuh
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer is brown and clear with a tan head of small and medium bubbles, low carbonation, no lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly malty and mildly roasty.

Beer is medium to light in body, simple but nice. Not very hoppy in flavor or bitterness, a mild roastiness in there, a mild nuttiness. It was decent, I'd probably have it again at a party but I think this has been discontinued.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Beer Revolution. Pours a dark brown with a small light tan head that has good retention and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The nutty toffee, earthy hops, and a bit of caramel. The taste has a light sweetness with a bit of nuttiness and toffee. There is also some caramel and a bit of earthiness. The finish has a hint of bitterness and a little sweetness. Medium body. Medium carbonation. Descent brown ale. I think I like this one a little more than Tumbler.

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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 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 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 rarbring
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer is dark brown, clear, has a tan head with small bubbles that leaves good lacing.

Smells vaguely of syrup, nuts and apples.

The taste is adequately malty, bread porridge, nuts and ripe apples.

Medium carbonation, soft with small bubbles and a rich body.

A very nice and determined brown ale.

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Photo of mithrascruor
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Callahan's, San Diego.

Pours a clear darker brown color. Light tan head, pretty rocky, but with decent retention and a bit of lacing. Aroma is pretty mild, just malts. The flavor is pretty light as well: some roasted malts and a bit of caramel. After a short while, though, the flavor really wears thin. There just isn't much depth to what's there in the flavor. Overall the beer is pretty smooth, with mild carbonation, and light- to medium-bodied. I've had much tastier brown ales from mediocre brewpubs. Curious to try SN's new Tumbler Brown Ale, though - hopefully that one is good.

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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 ThreeWiseMen
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ordered this at the brewery in Chico last night. Following review written from notes.

Served in a Sierra Nevada imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Body is dark, but shows great clarity when examined closely. Chestnut-amber in color with lots of carbonation rising from the etched area on the bottom of the glass. As for the head, it stood about an inch in height when it first came out. The consistency is foamy and the color khaki. Looks like a nicely-done cappuccino. Amazing retention and cobweb-like rings of lacing. Fantastic!

Smell: The head retention was so good that i had to eat some off the top just to get a whiff of this beer. Brown malt, spicy hops, cocoa, and nutty aromas is all I got; and as a whole the nose was pretty faint.

Taste: Lots of nuts, then woody and grassy hops, followed by more brown malt and nutty cocoa-ness. I get some toasted malt aspects and Chinook saltiness in the finish. Nice balance. Decent flavor.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation; smooth and foamy. Good balance. Finishes clean and crisp with a decent aftertaste. Medium in body. Good.

Drinkability: Not my favorite brown ale (that would be Buzzsaw by Deschutes), but definitely solid. I could see myself buying this again, but not on a regular basis.

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

Draft at Pazzo's Pizza.

Poured a clear brown color with an average frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate toasted malt, nut and chocolate aroma. Medium to full body with a smooth texture and soft carbonation. Solid balanced toasted bittersweet flavor with a medium bittersweet finish of moderate duration.

Good complex brew.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Comes out of the tap a clear mahogany brown with a thick, fluffy, fine-bubbled cream-colored head. Aroma is malty and spicy with just a hint of caramel. Flavor is malty and has a strong overtone of cinnamon, as well as a hint of yeast and touches of caramel and hops. Texture is very smooth and substantial, just a little tingly and quite satisfying.

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Arrived on tap in a shaker glass. Appears a clear rich chestnut color with a finger of tan foam. No lacing to mention. Smells and tastes of lightly roasted malts/grains, a hint of chocolate, caramel, a touch of nuttiness shows through the mild bitterness. This brown ale is medium in both body and carbonation. A nice representation of the style. Good enough that I ordered a second glass.

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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 melagnus
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark Copper

S: Smoked malts and mild alcohol on nose.

T: Malty roasted taste with mild lingering bitterness from the hops.

M: A bit grainy and something comes across as tingly (carbonation?). Bitterness is hard to sense and overall is a well balanced beer.

C: A great beer and definitely another great beer by SN. Prost!

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

A: Dark brown body and a good-sized tan head.
S: Not too much smell. Some caramel and some malts, separately though. The maltiness is relatively strong, just none of the flavors are too pronounced.
T: Great for the first few sips. Actually tried a sip of a friends who didn't like it and decided to get one for myself. After the first few sips it gets kind of boring and dull. Good dose of nuttiness, but prefer this in conjunction with some sweetness. Other taste is pretty woody.
M: Good for the style, not too heavy but still a good dark brown ale.
D: The body is fine, the flavor, however, would make this not the best brown ale I've had in terms of drinkability.

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

Poured a medium brown color having a white fluffy head that slowly dissipates into lacing. Nose is a faint malty aroma, that leads into a wonderfully balanced malt accented flavor. A chewy, rich mouthfeel that has a satisfying prickly hop twang at the end. Pretty good brown ale.

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Photo of kinger
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Modest brown, but decent all around. Tame aroma a bit of sweet malt and some mild bitterness. Nice rich amber/light brown color, good sizeable head that eventually dwindles down, solid lacing. Mouthfeel is fairly light and easy going, there is a bit of fizziness that comes and goes. Mild malt flavor some caramel and a drop of honey taste. Good hop balance slightly bitter minus the hop flavor. Good average brown here, it's enjoyable having a couple at a time.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brown color, with a short foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of honey, maple, caramel, roasted malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is malty with sweet flavors of honey, caramel, maple and nuts. There's a mild hops presence that provides some balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it might not be the best brown ale out there but it's worth drinking for a while.

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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 Pencible
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was drunk from a bottle, so I have no notes on the appearance or smell. It tasted a lot like their pale ale, but with more malt in the flavoring. It still had a decent amount of hops in the aftertaste. It had a smooth and clean taste, and was overall one of the better brown ales I've had.

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Photo of charlzm
3.04/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 bottle, consumed 02/11/08.

I think this bottle must have lagered during the 12+ months it sat in the cooler at the liquor store, as the flavors are very subtle and clean. So, with that in mind...

Beer pours a very dark brown with a thin white head that becomes a ring of foam that stick through the whole tasting.

Typical brown ale aromas present: nutty, sweet, malty. Something off in there, too: a little sour.

Mouthfeel is thicker than expected and there is a moderate parching effect on the tongue. Flavors are almost too subtle to pick up: dusty malt, a hint of hop spice and a touch of bitterness on finish. Some sourness in background.

Sadly, it didn't age as well as I had hoped.

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Photo of beerthulhu
2.63/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured a dark cola/brown with a thin quickly dissipating creamy tan head.

S: Not much on the nose , a very soft nuttiness.

T: For flavor there was a semi-sweet roasted malt palate with light floral hoppiness.

M: thin, watery and very slick on the tongue, perhaps a tad overcarbonated.

D: An easy drinking brown but doesn't impress. A drink and not think type of beer that doesn't intrique. Much better examples out there.

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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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