Beam Me Up Pale Ale

Beer can commemorate life events and the passage of time…meeting new friends and saying farewell to old. A dear friend and neighbor is off to new opportunities with their family, and it’s definitely a beer-worthy event. He loves Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (SNPA), and we’ve shared a few in his driveway (as well as a few homebrews) over the years. So, I decided to brew something SNPA-inspired…and by coincidence, this year’s “Big Brew Day” recipe is right in that wheelhouse.

Beam Me Up Pale Ale, all on its own

The original recipe was in the March/April 2023 issue of Zymurgy, under the name of “Nearly Nirvana Pale Ale.” It’s pretty similar to the Miss’ippi #BIGCASCADE recipe from the September 2013 BYO issue, too! My recipe is a good match for “Nearly Nirvana,” except I lowered the gravity a touch (1.056 vs. 1.060), to more closely match SNPA. This batch is also special in that I used only whole cone Cascade hops from the Farke family farm in South Dakota, all representing the 2022 crop year. I made some minor adjustments in the grist — the original called for Simpsons Crystal Light malt, and I substituted in Briess’s Caramel 40L.

I elected for a quick mash on this one, with just 30 minutes for the main rest of 156°. The goal was to shave a few minutes off of the brew day!

I did something a little different for the tasting, in doing a head-to-head with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Although my beer isn’t precisely a clone, I thought it would be good to make a comparison nonetheless. The intent was to help me more clearly evaluate my own version, and think about what the ingredients delivered.

Beam Me Up Pale Ale

  • 12 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 0.5 lb. caramel malt – 40L (Briess)
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 60 minute boil
  • 1.0 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 15 minute boil
  • 0.5 tsp. BrewTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. BRY-97 (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.056 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 5.4% abv, 44 IBU, 6 SRM
  • Full volume mash, 156° for 30 minutes, 168° mash-out for 10 minutes
  • Claremont tap water adjusted with lactic acid and mineral additions, to achieve calculated water profile of 142 Ca, 6 Mg, 84 Na, 83 SO4, 120 Cl, 156 HCO3, RA=23 ppm.


  • I mashed in with 7.75 gallons of water at 163°, to hit a target rest of 156°. I added 5.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH.
  • I recirculated during the mash, raising it to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
  • After the mash, I removed the grains. In total, the mash yielded 7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.046, for 70% mash efficiency.
  • On the way to the boil, I added 2.5 g of gypsum to accentuate the bitterness a bit more.
  • Once the runnings were boiling, I added hops and kettle finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled to 68° and transferred the wort to the fermenter. I pitched the yeast, and held the fermenter at 67° for the primary fermentation.
  • I brewed the beer on 18 March 2023. Starting gravity was 1.053.
  • I kegged the beer using a closed transfer, on 15 April 2023. Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.3% abv.
Down the glass, with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at left, and Beam Me Up Pale Ale at right.


Just for fun, I tasted the beer on its own and also did a side-by-side with a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  • Appearance
    • The beer is very clear, gold in color, and pours with a white and moderately persistent head.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: Mine is slightly lighter in color, with less head and less head retention. The latter might be a result of a pour from draft versus the can? I’m not sure. The SNPA is slightly clearer, but also has what looks like some minor hop particulates at the bottom.
      • Winner: SNPA, by just a small margin, due to the better head and head retention.
  • Aroma
    • Sweet malt aroma and light caramel, with a light and citrusy hop aroma. The hops definitely have a mandarin quality.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA lacks the light caramel aroma, and doesn’t have as much hop character (at least in the can I poured).
      • Winner: It’s a draw! I don’t have a preference either way.
  • Flavor
    • Medium level of citrusy mandarin orange and grapefruit, with a light resin quality in the hops. Light caramel in the malt character, medium bitterness, and clean yeast character.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA is slightly more bitter, with more resin/pith character to the hop flavor. It’s definitely hop-dominated, with the malt to the back end, unlike mine.
      • Winner: Draw! I like aspects of each. They’re just different beers.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium carbonation, medium-light body, off-dry and smooth finish.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA has a medium body profile and is slightly dryer on the finish.
      • Winner: I like SNPA slightly better, for having just a touch more body.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! “Beam Me Up Pale Ale” is by no means a clone (nor is it intended to be), but it’s a tasty and very drinkable beer! The mandarin quality on the hops in my version is super enjoyable. My main adjustments would be to up the bitterness slightly, and perhaps bitter with Chinook or another more resiny hop, using the Cascade for later additions. Or maybe I would leave it the same! It’s not a clone, after all.
  • Overall
    • 8/10
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (left) and Beam Me Up Pale Ale (right), head to head