4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

It’s straight back to the States for beer number four, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is reputedly something of a legend around those parts. This is the beer that some say was almost single-handedly the catalyst for the resurgence of craft brewing and real ale in the US, amid a bland, lagery ocean of mass-produced Duff, Duff Lite and Lady Duff.

Interestingly it’s the first beer so far that explicitly asks to be served chilled, while many of the better beers tend to excel at room temperature. Whether that’s because Sierra Nevada Pale Ale expects to be enjoyed in the Mediterranean climate of Chico, California from whence it originates, we cannot be sure.

Chilled it is then. Let’s get this 350ml, bottle-conditioned Pale Ale and her charmingly folksy label artwork out of the ‘fridge, and crack her open.


There’s an immediate hoppy aroma, not unlike that of an IPA, though a little more subdued, as is appropriate for a PA with no I.

At this point I should confess that I’ve actually had this beer before, but at room temperature, and wasn’t blown away. There was a muddy confusion to the flavours, but I must admit that chilling it does bring everything together into a much tighter, smoother package. It also makes it pleasantly refreshing, even on a greyish March evening in South-East London.

The ale is much more subtly flavoured than the previous American ale, the Goose Island IPA, but in many ways is a lot more pleasant. Thankfully that sweetness that spoilt the Goose Island for me is completely absent. As the beer warms a little, some extra malty flavours come out, which turn this into a genuinely satisfying, drinkable beer.

This is probably even the kind of beer that could be enjoyed by folks who don’t actually think they like real ales, as it’s really quite accessible, and there’s very little about it that would offend anyone.

Good stuff, all gone in about five minutes, and I believe there’s another Sierra Nevada beer I have to track down before long. I look forward to doing so.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
Style: Pale Ales
ABV: 5.6%
Found at: Waitrose, Whitecross Street, London EC1
Dispense: 350ml Bottle-conditioned

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