Review: Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale

Mr. Mallard’s recent review of Troegs Dream Weaver got me to thinking about what I look for in a summer beer.  As an IPA fan, I’m immediately attracted to anything with big hop character.  But in the summer, I like my beers more restrained.  It has to be full of flavor but not overwhelmingly so.  It has to be moderately alcoholic, not in the style of an imperial or double beer.  Lastly, it has to be balanced.  Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is just that.  I recommend this beer to any IPA fans out there looking for something light yet palatable.

Sierra Nevada ( has been in business since 1980.  For those keeping count, that’s 4 years before Samuel Adams was founded.  They’ve had a lot of time to perfect the art of the pale ale, and they have.  It’s won many awards (Great American Beer Festival: 1993-1995, American Pale Ale; 1992, Classic English Pale Ale; 1987, 1989, 1990, Pale Ale).

The beer pours a moderate caramel color, clear, with a dense foam head characteristic of hoppy beers.  It smells of malt and hops, nothing too fancy and not overwhelming like many of today’s IPAs.  The taste is slightly spicy and piney, full-bodied, and finishes clean.  It’s biased a bit on the hoppy side but not enough to qualify it as an IPA (37 IBUs).

Alcohol is restrained in this beer at an easy-drinking 5.6%.  You can easily polish off a 6-pack in a game of softball or while floating in the pool and you won’t feel full or drunk.  Which, this time of year, is a bonus because no one wants to be that guy at the family picnic.

There are many, many reviews of this beer out there.  This one is not to convince you that it is a good beer (it is), or that you should forsake all other beers for it (you shouldn’t), but to make you think about picking up a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada’s flagship ale and plopping yourself down somewhere for the afternoon.

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