As it came time to select the first beer I was going to review, I found myself in quite the quandary. I was enjoying a delicious Orange Blossom Ale from Tomoka Brewery here in Central Florida and I really wanted to tell people about it. Problem is, Tomoka Brewery is relatively small and regional, but I wanted to be able to review a beverage that most would have easy access to. A few days later I was in the grocery store and I happened to come across Sidecar Orange Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewery. My search was over.
Sierra Nevada Brewery is a west coast brewing operation founded in 1979 by Ken Grossman. Ken, a Southern California native, found himself in Chico, CA in the early Seventies visiting some friends and fell in love with the Northern California coast. It was in Chico where Ken would follow his passion for fermentation and create the thriving brew powerhouse we know today. For almost 40 years, Sierra Nevada has been at the forefront of the craft beer scene and some can even look to them as being the purveyors of this trend. They are showing no signs of slowing down. Sierra Nevada opened an additional brewery in North Carolina in 2015 and now produce 1,250,000 barrels of beer every year. In addition to producing great beers, Sierra Nevada has also been at the forefront of environmental issues. In 2010, they were named Green Business of the Year by the EPA for their work on sustainability including, but not limited to, their creation of the nation’s largest private solar array.
The first thing I noticed about Sidecar Orange Pale Ale was the packaging. The bright orange and green can adorned with an orange sliced in half resting on a bed of hops really caught my eye. The orange Sierra Nevada banner adorning the top promises the painstaking quality most have grown accustomed to from this brewer. The top of the can sports a tag line about the brewery: “Family Owned, Operated and Argued Over.” The bottom of the can contains their mission statement: “For us, American pale ales are perfect as they are, but we always wondered ‘what if,’ so we added orange peel and bold citrus-heavy hops to create this refreshing twist on the classic.”
Sidecar is a classic American Pale Ale brewed with Cascade, Equinox, and Mandarina hops. Orange peel is added to the brew kettle and the fermenter to provide its signature orange flavor. The ABV is on the low end for a Pale Ale at 5.3% and the IBU is 35. I cracked open the can and poured it into a glass. Sidecar has a great orange and amber hue to it with a light, frothy head. I swirled the ale around in the glass to activate the smell. Immediately my mouth began to water in anticipation Sierra Nevada’s newest pale ale has a wonderful citrusy aroma that is very flowery, with just a hint of spice. I could not wait for this beer to hit my palette.
Sidecar tastes delicious. Naturally, the first flavor that comes through is the citrus. It is sweet with just a hint of bitterness. My favorite part of the orange flavor is that — true to its name — it’s a sidecar. The Pale Ale is the motorcycle here, and the orange flavor just comes along for the ride. At no point do you think you are drinking a flavored beer. The orange does not overpower the taste of the ale, which is outstanding because Sierra Nevada makes some of the best ales out there. The hops shine through, giving Sidecar it’s signature ale flavor, while the orange peel adds a refreshing touch to a classic. The finish is outstanding, as the orange peel fades and the hops are left tingling your tongue. The carbonation is perfectly balanced and the beer retains a great ringed head as you reach the bottom of the glass.
Overall, I enjoyed this beer greatly and have enjoyed several more since. The price is pretty standard for a mass-produced pale ale at $8.99 for six pack of twelve ounce bottles. Pint cans are also readily available wherever you buy single beers. This is a delicious beer at a great price that is an absolutely perfect beverage on a hot day. As the summer winds to a close and fall approaches, we are about to be inundated with pumpkin beers and the like. Before a chill hits the air, go mow your lawn and reward yourself with an ice-cold Sidecar Orange Pale Ale in a frosted mug. Soon, Christmas will be here and the Summer will just be a memory.