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An Ode to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

It’s the beer that built this current movement—an American twist on an established style that pushed the boundary of hops. And almost forty years after its debut, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale remains both beloved and timeless.

John Holl Jul 2, 2018 - 6 min read

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Argue if you like, but no other beer brewed in this country, in the modern age, has had more of a positive impact on both the industry and the way consumers have come to embrace the aroma and flavor of hops than Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Pale Ale.

It’s immediately recognizable, thanks to its distinctive green label announcing “purest ingredients” and “finest quality” and the 12-ounce heritage bottle with the quality-seal cap (use bottle opener). But it’s the concoction of ingredients inside that brings people back again and again and helped grow a once-small brewing operation into a globally recognized brand.

When Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi opened Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, in 1980, the first beer they made was a stout. Sierra Pale came along shortly after but took almost a dozen tries to get the recipe dialed in to their liking. In his book Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Grossman says the pair spent a lot of time “trying to decide exactly what flavor and aroma profile our flagship beer should have. We knew we needed to create our own style of beer that would stand out as being unique and distinctive.”

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John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.