Beer Review 0027: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Today, we are going to take a look at Sierra Nevada’s flagship beer, their take on the classic American Pale Ale. This beer is recognized in many and most circles as a holy grail; a drink that defines a style and is often looked back proudly and fondly upon.

Sierra Nevada was founded in 1979 by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, both homebrewers who wanted to expand operations. The company’s name comes from Grossman’s love of hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The first beer they brewed was the Pale Ale I am reviewing today.

Sierra Nevada’s environmental record is pristine: In 2010, the company won the US Environmental Protection Agency’s “Green Business of the Year,” with the entire brewery being powered by solar energy. They are also the largest buyer of organic hops in the United States.

In short, Sierra Nevada is a really cool company. So let’s see if their moneymaker beer lives up to the reputation it is oft afforded.

The beer pours with an average sized head that features very large bubbles; it’s frothy and long lasting. The liquid is a dark golden color with some particles floating through it, which gives a dusty effect (picture dust flowing through fall sunlight) that is very cool and something you don’t normally see. There was a little bit of lacing to speak of immediately after the pour, but not much as I drank.

To the nose, I detected a big hop presence, as one would expect, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The traditional aromas of pine and citrus were dominant, flowers in the background and a malt grainy undertone that snuck in. Not overly complex but still nice.

Sierra Nevada’s take on Pale Ale is very creamy and crisp; creaminess coming in on the citrus flavors where there is a nice but brief sweetness, and the crispness hitting you like a truck in the form of pine. Very bitter finish but not overwhelming; it’s also drying. As the finish works its magic, you find the drink turns from primarily hoppy to malty and the grains described in the aromatics shine through. There’s also a bit of an alcohol kick at the end — this one is slightly above session status at 5.6% ABV (alcohol by volume).

We here at this website certainly recognize that when it comes to American Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada’s version of it is a classic, if not the standard for the style. We have much respect for this beer, primarily for two reasons: A great many beer drinkers have cut their craft beer teeth with this Pale Ale and it’s just damn good stuff. This is not an extreme beer nor is it watery macro trash — this is just a good drink you will always want to have on hand.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to anyone looking to break free from the same old, same old and jump headfirst into craft beer.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 85 points. Price: $13.99 US for twelve pack.


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