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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,349 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,349
Hads: 9,610
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 19.76%
Wants: 344
Gots: 1,475 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-02-2001

Fresh Hop Ale; no spices.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 3,349 | Hads: 9,610
Reviews by Dantes:
Photo of Dantes
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Package: Stubby "heritage" bottle. No date guidelines. Neck label with blurb notes "2002 Celebration Ale" and "2284" on lower left poinsettia. Nice winter scene. 6.8% ABV.

Cost: $7.99 6-Pack at Shop-Rite

Presentation: Pint glass at 50º

Appearance: Coppery, strong-tea color. A bit cloudy. Loose, moist white head, settling to about ½”, remaining for most of the glass. Nice strings of small bubbles from the bottom.

Smell: Hops are very evident with strong lemon peel citrus notes. Spices and malt struggle up through the sharper notes. A bit off-putting at first, but evens out as the head settles. Intriguing.

Taste: More balanced than the aroma. I am not normally a fan of “overly” hopped beers, but it works here. Nice hops complexity. I’m not sophisticated enough to differentiate, but this is not a one-note wonder like many hoppy brews. First bite of hops and citrus are quickly moderated by the malt; notes of clove, allspice, ginger; and fainter hints of raisins, plums, and grapefruit. Clean and edgy without being sharp.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is well-matched to the fullness of the brew. Comparable to the Winter Solstice, with more body and viscosity.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. ABV is virtually undetectable and the body and flavors are both light and satisfying. I can see this both for savoring and as a regular quaffer.

In general, I’m not a big fan of very hopped beers. For me, it is the equivalent of salt or Habanero peppers. I love them, but used injudiciously, they dominate. Here, the Sierra Nevada succeeds. Its elements are well orchestrated, even with a heavy weighting on the hops end of the scale. Like a string quartet where the ‘cello dominates, the imbalance works if Yo-Yo Ma is the cellist, but would be a disaster otherwise. This works.

Backwash: This review is a tale of two Winter Seasonals. Compared to Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice, this brew wins hands down. My tastes don’t run to the “hop-head” end of the spectrum, but the execution of the Celebration Ale is great. I’m a big fan of Winter Seasonals and would add this my list of favorites, although less "wintery" than many. I still lean to the maltier British offerings, but this is an excellent change of pace. Should be made available year-round. If it mellows with age as noted below, could be perfect.

NB: Had on draught, this WAS mellower and even better.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of bassboneman
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

I remember having this beer last year. I loved it then and I love it now!
The only issue I have is that the finish, to me, is slightly MORE bitter than I recall.
I am drinking this first brew of the season from the bottle - the next will be in a glass
Up yours!


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Photo of tectactoe
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Just finished my last Celebration of the season. Time to rewrite this review. Pours a deep copper-amber hybrid color with some orange highlights. An absolutely huge, beige-colored head tops this one off - incredibly thick and creamy with extraordinary staying power, also coating all sides of the glass with fat, chunky lacing. Decent clarity, and you can see a nice stream of carbonation bubbles flowing from the etched bottom of my glass to the top of the brew.

The aroma is strong, with a super-fresh dose of hops. Sierra Nevada claims that these are "fresh" hops (not wet, mind you, but fresh) and you can definitely tell. It's like sticking your head into a recently cut field of grass, vibrant and alive. The character of these hops is largely resinous, piney, and somewhat floral. The pine aromas hit your nostrils with some power, very needley and pungent. Faint citrus hints, more so on the rind and pith side, as to not make things too sweet, rather keep with the solid bitterness profile. Some spiciness from the hops is also noticeable and works to tie everything together.

The taste is crazy delicious - despite the heavy load of hops, there is certainly a strong malt presence here that does more than just lay out framework for the other parts. Slight toasted malts, caramel, toffee, and a faint, musky, earthy presence can be found immediately. As soon as you start to appreciate this nice, malt-laden infrastructure (or maybe even before that), the hops come in and go buck wild on your palate. Pines, pine needles, resinous hop nuggets, Christmas trees, Christmas wreathes - yeah, I said it. Christmas wreathes.

The malt profile is ever-present for the duration of the hop take-over, which creates a nice cosmic balance, despite the hefty bitter overload of the hops. The spice character is not to be forgotten - there's a joke going around that SN adds spices to this beer, which they've debunked as false many times. But I can see where people are coming from. A nice, peppery, earthy, and warming "hop spice" flavor trills along for the entire sip, riding a wave right into the aftertaste. I really can't overstate how goddamn tasty this shit is. Medium bodied, carbonated to the max; not too sticky, not too dry, this beer is great in all aspects.

Whether you call this a malty IPA, or a hopped-up amber/red ale, or a winter warmer, or whatever - it doesn't matter. Call it a stout for all I care. Just know that this beer is delicious. And the fact that it's a seasonal release around my favorite time of the year (the joyous bridge from Thanksgiving to Christmas) gets me that much more excited to pick it up each year. The holidays would not be complete without this beer in my fridge. I always try to make it last far into the spring - usually doesn't make it that long.

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Photo of mirp1
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Celebration Ale is one of the first holiday beers ever released in the U.S. I first had it many years ago, and was blown away by it's classy simplicity. It struck me as an in-your-face, rock solid craft beer, having no intentions on faking anyone out. I looked forward to it's annual November release, and not just for the quality of the beer, but also for the striking holiday-winter theme packaging. Like many reviewers, I have had all kinds of beer over the years, from EKU 28, to Scaldis, to Heady Topper, Pliny the Elder, Ghandi Bot, Hi Res, KBS, Bourbon County Stout/Barley Wine, Bells Hop Slam/Mars, Seeking Alpha, Flower Power, Creeker, etc, etc. Consequently, my palate is conditioned to not be as impressed as I was with the more regular craft beers of the world. When I was told last week that Celebration Ale was now in stock at local beer stores here in Utica, NY, I quickly went out and grabbed some. Modern holiday beers have become spice crazy, and so have jumped the shark. Celebration Ale is that rock solid holiday craft beer that never sold out. Great color, malty, crisp, with cascade, centennial, and chinook. Nuff said.

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Photo of Jeff_whitman
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Does not drink like a wet hopped beer. Its missing the fresh hop smell and flavor. Not a bad beer but it wasnt great either.

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Photo of peabody81
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

I have enjoyed this beer many times over the years, but this year is the first that Sierra Nevada has been local to North Carolina, so I've never had one this fresh before. Bottled on 9/26/14.
Aroma: piney, but not overwhelmingly so
Appearance: very nice orangey-amber-brown with delicate lacing
Mouthfeel: just right, not too watery, but not chewy either (not that there's anything wrong with that)
Taste: More balanced than I remember, but my hop tolerance is so high now that what would be insanely bitter to others is meh to me. Leaves a very nice, just the right amount of bitterness, aftertaste. Very drinkable.
Overall: One of the all-time classics, getting it fresh - BONUS!!!!

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Photo of Glengosch
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I seem to remember this beer being called Celebration Ale in years past, now it's called Celebration IPA, and hey, IPAs are all the rage, so why not call it that? But on to the taste and stuff...

*Taste - The flavor of this beer is primo, superb, deluxe, fasmatasmic - or some other word that is better than good. Seriously. One of my favorites. In a blind taste test, I don't know that I would know that this is an IPA. Normally with an IPA, (a good IPA) I am punched in the face with pine or floral citrus (and I don't mean that in a bad way). This here ale is the perfect balance that makes it almost unrecognizable in the field of American IPAs. Maybe it solidifies itself ahead of the rest.

On the back end, it's like you get the bitterness without the burn - if that makes sense(?). I guess what I'm trying to say is the taste is as pleasant as the minimal aftertaste.

You get a good balance of maltiness too. Bonus.

As far as taste/flavor is concerned, it's hard to find better.

*Smell - it smells great, but I taste the hops more than I smell them.

*Feel - it feels good. Smooth. Easy to drink with a high ABV.

*Look - Amberish/goldenish/a little darker than a Sam Adams BL (for your reference)

*Overall/bottom line - Depending on what I'm in the mood for, probably my favorite beer. Great hop taste, balanced with some (great) malt taste. Do yourself a favor, if you like beer, and drink this. You're welcome.

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Photo of DevAJ
2.36/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

I either am just not into hoppy beers yet, or I haven't found the proper hops. It's not bad for the first 1/4th of the beer, but after that, it's just too much for me. I guess I just don't like a ton of American hops, because I don't find Schlafly's Tasmanian IPA to be that bad (it supposedly uses Australian hops).

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Photo of mrbran0
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best seasonal ever. For real.

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Photo of rand
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just picked up a couple of 6 packs of fresh, 2015 vintage, and realized I hadn't reviewed this. 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear, amber appearance, with a small, fluffy head. A couple rings of lacing are left after a few sips.

S: Hop-forward nose with a citrusy, floral bouquet. I just went through a lot of fresh-hop brews from the September harvest, adn this smells very similar.

T: The hop essence defines the flavors but it's floral, grassy and nuanced rather than bitter. NOtes of green apple and citrus rind are countered by honeyed biscuits and toasty grains. There is some bitterness toward the back of the sip, joining a touch of warming alcohol. Closes with a medium finish, with lingering bitter residuals.

M: Medium-light complexion with an oily slick mouthfeel.

There's good reason everyone clamors over this brew this time of year. It seems all of the fresh hop IPA's available have only made this more popular. Get it while you can.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep dark red / almost red-brown color with a thick white head. the head subsides slightly but a solid white head remains, even after 30 minutes! great looking and lively beer.

smells like sweet roasted malts. a slight smell of sweet hops exist but it is not prominent in the aroma.

the taste is fantastic, nice combination of grapefruit and toasted malt. not overpowering but very solid. goes down very smooth, easy drinking!

overall this is a pretty good IPA, nothing mindblowing but it does everything right. not overly hoppy or malty, utilizes a few different tastes.

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Photo of JonnyBoyy
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I prefer this over Torpedo

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Photo of Mazeltov
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber color, very aromatic, roses, yellow grapefruit, nutmeg, bitterness is on the point, smooth on the palate, this is very charming one, very fresh and dry style, medium bodied, well-balanced, delicious.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Sierra Nevada are like the Tiger Woods of beers - they play a sharp game of golf, and cheat on their Swedish wives... err, no, that analogy doesn’t work, how about Sierra Nevada are like the J.K. Simmons of beers - consistently undervalued for their work and quietly brilliant, plus they won an Oscar that they thoroughly deserved (or at least they would if there was a beer equivalent of an Oscar). I’m happy with that revised analogy. Now on to their Celebration Ale - this is a Winter Ale with a difference - all IPA, no spices. This will be awesome-sauce.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy toffee brown-tinged amber body with a sticky 1 centimetre off-white head. There’s a decent amount of protein in the head, Sierra Nevada have got to be happy with that, I know I am. 9/10.

S: Malt forward with a biscuit/caramel combo, followed by hints of piney/citric, it’s certainly not as big on the hops as Torpedo, we’ll see how it comes out in the flavour because sometimes you do get big hop flavours in brews without big hop aromas. In Sierra Nevada we trust. 7/10.

T: The good news: This is one smooth IPA. The bad news: Sierra Nevada’s own Torpedo IPA scuttles this brew [nautical puns anyone?] with hops, more and more HOPS! Palate-wise SNaCA (as I am henceforth calling this beer) has a big caramel/biscuit base with hints of pine/citrus hops and a rather sharp bitter finish on the edge of your tongue that carries through to the aftertaste. This needs more hop flavours and less hop bitterness (which is entirely possible - my last homebrew was all tropical hop flavour without bitterness). 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, slightly oily hop presence with a light but dense carbonation. Almost the exact same mouthfeel as the Torpedo. 9/10.

D: Missed opportunity from the makers of the mighty Torpedo. This is a fresh hop IPA that has bitten off more than it could chew - too malty, not enough hop flavour, unnecessary sharp bitter edge, above-average aroma. Those are the negatives, on the plus side it is a hearty, smooth and half decent IPA, I guess I’ve been too spoiled with Sierra Nevada’s other offerings (oh yeah and Founders, Deschutes, Ballast Point, the rest of the west coast, et al.) to give this a higher rating. [err, best before: 10.24.14... disregard my ENTIRE review now!] 7/10.

Food match: Staring at the label with the snow-cover log cabin made me think of a hearty beef stew by a nice warm fireplace watching the embers die, or cake.

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Photo of Tee76
3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

As far as an IPA goes this is exceptional. Great lacing, great taste, very drinkable. My only complaint is its marketed and sold as a winter beer. There's nothing "Christmas" or winter about this brew. Sierra Nevada should sell it year round. I could easily drink this on hot day.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had two of these in my beer fridge since November and have somehow managed to resist them. I've been reading about how hoppiness decreases over time, which probably means (since I'm of the 'hoppier the better' school) that I should have had them as fresh as possible. Anyway, I'm about to remedy that oversight tonight.

Medium orange-amber with a moderate haze. The head is very large and is dark cream edging into ecru. Stiff and rocky, then lumpy, it sticks in chunks to the inside of the pint glass. It looks for all the world like a thick, frothy milkshake. Ultimately there are chunky rings of lace on the glass and a thick, lumpy film on top of the beer.

The nose is primarily grapefruit peel-like. Upon tasting, a soft (yet insistent) wave of hops hits the taste buds. Several varieties are probably present and I'm betting that Cascade is among them. The hoppiness is primarily citrusy and floral, with a hint of pine. There is also a background spiciness that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms.

There's a fairly large malt load as well. Alcohol is noted, especially after the initial wave of hops subsides (alcohol is almost undetectable in the 2007 Celebration). The finish is long, decently hoppy and ultimately dry. The body/mouthfeel is creamy and is reasonably full.

There's no question that Celebration Ale is an excellent IPA. It doesn't get extraordinarily high marks from me, however, because the hops aren't quite prominent enough. I know that this isn't a DIPA and that it would undoubtedly have been hoppier if I had drunk it sooner after bottling, but even so...

If you love IPAs that are hoppy with a nod toward balance, then start the Celebration early. Next year I'll crack open my first one on the day I buy it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I never drank 2005 Celebration Ale, thought 2006 Celebration was more maibock-like than IPA-like (woefully underhopped) and just enjoyed the hell out of a bottle 2007 Celebration a few hours ago. (re-reviewed 12/29/07)

When done right, this is clearly an expertly brewed ale. The malt backbone was nice and sturdy (mostly pale with a hint of caramel) and the citric hops were right up front where they belong. I was equally impressed with one of the smoothest, creamiest mouthfeels that I've experienced in a beer of this style in quite some time. So *this* is what Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is supposed to taste like!

scores for 2004: 4.5, 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.0... ... 4.15
scores for 2007: 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5... ... 4.3

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Photo of pianoguy
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle from a 12 pack
Full disclosure; Total wine has a clearance section for seasonal beers near the the end of their season. I picked this up for $9.99. Label says it was packaged 11/25/2014.

Pours murky orange with a fluffy 3/4 inch, "surface of the moon", like head, that sticks around for a while. I can't say enough about the appearance of this beer's head .I'm giving the look my first 5 ever.. Good lacing all the way down the glass.

Smells of orange citrus with a little nutmeg - cinnamon .

The taste is slightly different then the smell. I couldn't smell the malts but I can sure taste em . Got that slightly bitter hop finish.

Great feel. It's got that "quaff my thirst" vibe due to the excellent head

Overall an excellent beer. It's nice to find a great IPA that only comes out in the winter. I usually switch to porters and winter warmers in late September but I will be looking for this IPA next winter.

Bravo !

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Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice find in the middle of summer,a 2002 offering.Pours a nice copper clor with light to medium head that has some nice staying power,the aroma is hop zesty with a slight sweet background.The taste is very hoppy and citrus like but there is caramel malt taste that lingers as well.Very well done stays real well.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice clear, amber pour with quite a generous pancake head. The nose is nicely hopped and has plenty of fruitiness kickin around as well...peach and apricot i'd have to say. The taste is big and hoppy right off the bat with underlying fruitiness and a nice malt backbone. Underlying caramel sweetness. This beer offers bold, up front taste and well balanced body. A very, very light and smooth mouthfeel make this one an easy drinker...dangerous with the 6.8% abv. The finish is of a lovely hop bitterness as the light fruity notes disapate towards the end. Great stuff!

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Photo of Marty
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer! It's beautiful; pours a golden amber hue with a tall, foamy, lasting head that leaves a sticky lace down the inside of the glass. The taste is crisply hoppy and malty sweet. I was having trouble characterizing the smell, but one of my friends hit it right on the nose... peach! There are definitely hints of peach in this beer. One of my all-time favorites.

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Photo of mojohawk21
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of RoyalT
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This poured a dark orange in color out of the tap. It had some brownish notes as well. The head was puffy and very pretty. It showed retention the whole time I drained the pint glass and left some awesome lacing.

Smell – The nice, sharp pine is what I first noticed in this nose. There was also some light citrus and maybe a few other hoppy notes. The healthy malt base gave this IPA a very good balance.

Taste – The hop profile is very complex and reflects the scents found in the nose. The toasted malts come up slightly bigger at the taste and have a small nut compliment. As I said before, this is a very balanced brew.

Mouthfeel – This one is a solid medium bodied, on the bigger side mind you, with a terrific lingering aftertaste.

Drinkability – One of the more quaffable beers that I’ve had. On-tap this thing is addictive.

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Photo of aszatk01
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of cam477
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Wonder's Pub.

Nice amber with a fluffy white head. Good lacing.

Big western hops bring a hefty dose of juniper berries to the aroma. Citrusy. Herbal, maybe coriander and thyme. The cascade hop level isn’t quite Mt. Ranier but it is a close Mt. Hood.

There is a decent amount of malt in here to balance the bitterness of the hops but hops still rule the day. Citrus floral notes dominate the flavor. Esters swish throughout, warming the brew. Also touches of nuttiness and grain.

Dry, crisp, and quite drinkable.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,349 ratings.