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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Reviews: 210 | Ratings: 241
Photo of Sammy
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In a word, a mild brown, brown shoe colour with mocha bubbly head. Alcohol and sugar and molasses aroma. Medium to lighter body. Easy drink not bold tastes, malted down bitterness, with balance. Hopped English style understated Above average carbonation.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Recently offered in the Central KY area. Good to see a Sierra Nevada variety. Really liked this beer. A deep bronze color with ruby hues, good head retention and plenty of lacing. Hoppy as hell, but a good Brown nevertheless. The hops swirl around in the aromas with roasted grain, chocolate flavors, nuttiness, and a pleasant fermentation scent. Tastes sweet of dark malts, chocolate, walnuts, and earthy hops. The entire beer comes together in a very raw and earthy manner. The extra hopping rates allow the beer to finish cleaner than most Browns, but do dominate the beer after the initial sip. Under the medium body, the hop flavor and bittering leaves the beer a bit thin. But, easy to drink and full of character anyhow. Another quality brew by SNBC, and just in time for the fall weather and football.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Monger: Poured a deep brown color ale with a nice foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of caramel malt with light hops. Taste is dominated by caramel and light molasses malt with a clean dry finish with some light hops. Body is pretty full for the style with some good carbonation. I thought this was very good for a style, which is too often boring.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A decent enough brown ale... nothing to write home about. I kind of expected more from Sierra Nevada, but at the same time I knew they'd stick to the style. It pours a clear deep russet-brown with ruby highlights. The frothy, light tan head holds fairly well and drops to a decent collar which leaves some good lace. The aroma is enticing with notes of lightly toasty/subtly chocolatey and bready maltiness and spicy, floral hops. The body is medium-light with a median carbonation that gives a gentle bristle before warming to become more creamy in the mouth. The flavor displays a gently fruity, lightly toasty, and toffee-like malt that's well backed by bitterness. The finish is dry and lingering with hop bitterness, chocolatey maltiness, a soft roastiness and a light nuttiness. Overall it's a very drinkable, lightly complex and well-balanced ale that might make a good session beer.

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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 ChainGangGuy
2.98/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body with a soapy, beige-colored head.

Smell: Lightly toasted, nutty aroma with a touch of grassy hops. Sadly, the smell is rather lifeless.

Taste: An uninspired flavor of caramel malts, grain husks, and some grassy hops that show up in the semi-dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Sharply carbonated. Chalky mouthfeel. It could stand to have a more body to it.

Drinkability: I am going to take a pass on the Sierra Nevada Brown Ale. This beer pretty much solidifies AndoBrew's idea: that a beer with nothing to offer is not a beer worth drinking.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.61/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I love viewing beer through bright sunlight. This one is a stunning painter's palette of autumn colors, with hues of copper, bronze, orange and brick red.The creamy, sandstone colored cap is pretty special as well and is leaving an impressive amount of eye candy on the upper reaches of the glass.

The nose is more earthbound; I mean that literally. It has an earthy character that I associate with Munich malt. I prefer my brown ales to feature toasted pale malt or cocoa or hops or just about anything else. I recognize that this is simply personal preference on my part, but then this is my review. Here's hoping the flavor takes a different tack.

Brown Ale is decent beer, but I'm unimpressed with either the intensity or the complexity of the flavor profile. If it improves with warming, I'll revise my impressions accordingly. It's oven roasted nutty above all else and is otherwise devoid of malt-derived flavors. It isn't very malty sweet either.

I guess that leaves hoppy bitterness. There's certainly no shortage on that front. While there isn't a great deal of East Kent Goldings flavor, there is a fair amount of drying bitterness, especially on the crisp, almost brittle, finish. Unfortunately, the bottom of the bottle is no more compelling that the top half. If only this beer tasted as good as it looks.

It's amazing how much one can tell about the mouthfeel from the pour. There's something about the look, the sound and the feel of quality beer entering the glass that distinguishes it from lesser fare. Despite the fact that I don't love the flavor profile, this ale feels good in the mouth. It's firmer than it is lush, but is no less mouthfilling as a result.

Sierra Nevade Brown Ale isn't my sort of American brown ale, but that doesn't mean that I don't recognize its quality. If you like Munich malt and if you like your browns hoppy and dry rather than malty and sweet, then this is the beer for you. I'll be interested to see if it's as widely distributed as the rest of the SN lineup because I don't believe it has quite the same broad-spectrum appeal as the rest of their offerings.

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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 smcolw
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Small but lasting head; a touch of lace on the glass side. Dark brown but very clear, not quite porter color.

Mild aroma--some definite crystal and chocolate malts. No noticable hop, though.

The hop is present in the taste, particularly after the swallow. This is a malty beverage, but dry and well-balanced. The body is perfect, the carbonation, above average.

This is a very drinkable beer. Easily consumed and delicious. It is hoppier than a typical brown ale, but I think that makes it better. My new favorite brown ale.

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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 BukowskiÂ’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 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 feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear, dark caramel-y brown appearance, nice, puffy tanned head.

Soft and sweet nose, cocoa and nuts, spot on for a brown. A little hoppy.Good astringency.

Big bite of carbonation right off the bat, and high hop bitterness. Not a surprise, coming out of Chico. Malt kicks in later, sweet and chocolatey, but not too big. Hop are really on top of things in this one. Quite a unique malt character, as well, not like your run-of-the-mill brown.

Body is medium, finish is long and bittersweet, a nice mix of cocoa flavor and never-ending English hops.

I like this a lot, and plan on returning to it, as long as it's around.

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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 GClarkage
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

10/20/06- Purchased at Safeway in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info, but has the year of production on the neck label (2006). Poured into my Sierra Nevada pint glass.

Appearance- Brown as it gets. 1/2 inch large bubbled head with nice sticky lace patches left.

Smell- Sweet dark caramel malt with a pretty good sugary note. Mild hops play in the background.

Taste- Very sweet for a brown ale. Candied caramel malt with a decent nutty aspect. Light fruited hops come through in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- Thick with a sugary mouthcoating. Medium mouthfeel with a higher carbonation level.

Drinkability- Taste stronger than it is. A bit overly sweet for a traditional brown, but pretty tasty. Would like a few more hops as well.

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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 Gavage
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: brown in color with some amber highlights on the glass edge. A wispy head disappear quickly, and some lace spots develop.

Smell: malt and brown sugar sweetness.

Taste: caramel, hints of brown sugar, light nuttiness, and a decent bitterness makes up a nicely flavored ale.

Mouthfeel: smooth throughout. Medium bodied beer. Little aftertaste which was surprising.

Drinkability: very smooth and easy to drink. A clear session ale where you can have several pints without batting an eye.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a light brown hue with a one finger pillowy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a nice toasted grain aroma with hints of chocolate and caramel.

The taste was a pleasant blend of toasted barley, coffee and sweet caramel. Bittersweet chocolate at the finish.

The mouthfeel was full and mildly chewy. Dry finish.

Overall a very drinkable and sessionable brown ale. Another good offering from SN.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a full, two-finger thick, tan colored head that sits atop a brown beer. The beer shows brilliantly clear red highlights when held up to the light. The aroma is nicely nutty, a mix of toasted malt and a touch of roasted grain character. A nice layer of fruit is here in the aroma as well; notes of sweet plums and a touch of raisins are most notable. This really has a nice malty, and at times dry biscuit like character to it.

The taste is fairly dry up front and it finishes with that same crisp toasted cracker malt note that I associate with the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. A nice hop bitterness rides throughout as well; providing a further crispness to this quaffable brew. Ample malt character is of course here; a touch of coffee like roast grain character, a hint of burnt acidity, sweet caramelized toffee, and some lightly fruity malt notes. Some of the fruit character seems to be contributed by the hops, perhaps reminiscent of berries, but the hops also provide a herbal, slightly grassy backdrop to the bitterness.

The hops almost seem to be the most dominant feature of this beer, but not quite, and in the end I would have to say that this beer strikes a really good, almost even, balance between hop and malt. It is quite a bit hoppier than your usual malt focused brown ale, yet is not hoppy like a hop focused pale ale. This is quite tasty, and I could definitely see myself quaffing a few pints of this over an evening, though I could perhaps ask for a bit more chewy malt notes, but that is pure quibling at this point.

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

Clear brown ale with red highlights. OK tan head.

Smell is mostly chocolate and coffee with a little bit of citrus hop aroma. Lesser aromas of vanilla, caramel and butter.

Taste is slightly sweet with a woody dry finish at the start. Mild chocolate and coffee flavor but the taste of butterscotch is stronger. Mostly this is a tasty stronger flavored ale. Not EVERY West Coast beer must be a hop monster.

Mouthfeel is good and thicker than expected.

This is a beer that gets better and more flavorful as you drink it. DFH Indian Brown is better but this isn't bad at all.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, 2006 Edition, let's see how it holds up after 2 years, only $1.59 at Walnut Liquorette, in Walnut, CA,

A: Pours a dark brown, with a boatload of head which shocked me, with great retention, leaving lots of sticky-type lacing.

S: Smells sweet, with toffee candy, caramel, and brown sugar/molasses.

T: Caramel malt runs the gambit starting out dry and toasty, finishing with a brown sugar sweetness, with clearly evident piney hops, very good and tasty brown ale, even after 2 years of aging.

M: Light on the palate, needs more heft, a bit of oxidation there.

D: A good beer, it held up, try it again if it's in your area.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- medium brown with a reasonable head. Some clumpy lacing.

S- Fairly light but appetizing. balanced malt and hops smells fairly dry for the style.

T-Good basic brown ale. Fairly dry until the finish, where a little sweetness picks up.

MF- Is pretty much right on. Nothing special, but a nice weight and creaminess. Not too heavy, but substantial enough for th fall, and not cloying at all.

D- Good- this is a session beer that won't wear out your tastebuds, but offers some interest. The slight sweetness at the end is nice while the overall dryness helps keep it drinkable.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 edition

Pours a dark brown with a fizzy light tan head. Aroma is toasted malt with a bit of nuttiness as well. Taste is roasted malt finished by a high hop presence, higher than most brown's but are you really surprised coming from Sierra Nevada? Overall, this is another good brew from Sierra Nevada that is recommended.

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