Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,290 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,290
Hads: 9,398
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 5.78%
Wants: 320
Gots: 1,314 | FT: 1
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,290 | Hads: 9,398
Photo of alemakesmestrong
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thank goodness it's Christmas time, a time when great seasonals are abundant and this is one of my favorites. I remember trying this beer for the first time last year and not expecting an IPA but I was pleasantly surprised. If one wants to know what a "floral hop aroma" is like then dip your nose into Celebration, god does love us. Hazy copper-orange color, appetizing head, and those great hops are up front on the nose. Upon your first sip you notice the great medium body mouthfeel and a dried grape fruit, orange marmalade taste. Long, long dry finish....man I need another sip. (584 characters)

Photo of dsw4b
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was an impulse buy prompted by a surprisingly low price. I took note of the brewery and little else. It should come as no surprise, then, that I expected a very malty beer with little hop presence and a very full body. It seems a large number of beers brewed for the holiday season fit into that mold. The initial aroma did little to convince me otherwise. My wife disagrees with the mild aroma assessment, so maybe I'm imagining that (or have a cold or something). Anyway...

Wow. Lurking beneath the mild aroma was a mouthful of hops. The body is medium-light and the head is soft and seems to last forever. But the hops... There is almost no balance contributed by the malts, and for me, that is a good thing. A little more in the area of aroma might be desired (if for no other reason but as a warning to unsuspecting drinkers), but overall, this could easily be my favorite beer for now.

Had I known at the time of purchase that this beer was this good, I would have picked up a case or seven. (1,011 characters)

Photo of da_beers
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Hops from my hometown of Yakima - for me its a definite gotta try!

A - Beautiful amber/orange hue. Good two fingers of chuncy, white head. Lacing is great coming all the way down.

S - Nice amount of fresh hops on the nose. This is just so fresh smelling. Earthy, grassy, fresh! Some spice in there, maybe a hint of nuttiness as well.

T - Phenomenal. Very smooth with this much hops in it. The hops are not a blast like a DIPA or even some IPAs, but they are present. Not as much bitter bite to them, more of a nice level balanced flavor. Again, some spices, reminds me of Christmas. Almost a Marzen/IPA hybrid, very good!

M - Medium bodied, extremely drinkable. Smooth and flows across palate beautifully.

O - Very much enjoyed this brew. Sierra Nevada is so solid, in everything they do. 2013 Celebration Ale is definitley worth a try. (841 characters)

Photo of uncle8gil
4.61/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite of any Christmas brews. This beer screams of warm chestnuts and under-afghan-cuddling with a loved one. Drink a glass or two and watch 'it's a wonderful life'. You'll be teary-eyed by the end, I guarantee. A beautiful beer to look at poured: a deep, amber-brown, reflecting the light shades like her dirty blonde hair used to. upon first sip the spicy taste explodes throughout the mouth followed instantly by that Sierra Nevada bitter kick, stronger this time than in the pale ale or porter, but balanced perfectly by a fuller body and stronger taste. The finish is wonderful and leaves me wanting another. Season's greetings, friends. (648 characters)

Photo of DESTRO
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

celebration ale, you wonderous creation. pours ruby red and lovely with big aromas of citrus/piney hops that make you drool. the flavor, full and robust, some nice malt is there, but the whole story is about the hop. from the first sip, a mouthwatering twang hit the back of your jaws and from then on its a wonderful pine/grapefruit hop experiance. clean and crisp is the mouthfeel, lightly filling but in a comforting way. finishes with a tangy mouth puckering zip and the 6.9 % alcohol makes this brew so very deceiving. and thats just fine by me. (550 characters)

Photo of STKPICR0720
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just an amazing brew. I really have not had wet hops before and most definitely did not expect this beer to smell as great as it did. When I began to pour this brew into my Tulip it hit me quick at just how fresh this brew was. It also hit me that even before I took a sip I did not buy enough. Wow great hop taste great malt backbone and they both equally are so smooth. A must for anyone who loves SN truly a beer worth traveling long distances for. Damn now I have to wait a whole year for it. Great brew.

Cheers (516 characters)

Photo of buckiflyer
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition: Purchased a single at Whole Foods in Raleigh. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle. Smell: All hops. Color: clear amber with large long lasting white head. Very hoppy taste with a smooth finish. I really like this beer. I was expecting a winter spice malty beer, but was surprised and very happy. Did not realize this was an IPA. A great beer, worth picking up a six pack. (379 characters)

Photo of andylipp
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle.

Appearance -A nice orange amber pour with an inch of head in my nonic pint glass. Significant lacing.

Smell -A malty nose with significant citrusy hop notes. Even when it warmed, the aroma was more subdued than I remember in previous batches. Much less of a hoppy nose than, say, the Harvest Ale series, to be sure.

Taste -A great citrus/pine hop character with a big, malty sweet backbone. A long citrusy/piney finish with yet more maltiness.

Mouthfeel -Pretty high carbonation and a medium body.

Drinkability- Excellent. I want me some more!

Comments- I will buy as much of this as I can while it's around. It's interesting- based on some forum posts, this year's batch seems to be highly variable. Some people get a malty aroma; some people note a dominant hop aroma. Mine had a maltier nose with a big hop taste and a looong hop finish. Just great. (874 characters)

Photo of happybear
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

serving type: bottle

A: Deep orange on the cloudy side. good head retention. It leaves good lacing.

S: Lots of hops, lots of hops. Pine and grapefruit stand out.

T: Bitter hops hits you and excellent flavor and finish.

M: Light bodied with moderate carbonation.

D: Very drinkable, like an early Christmas for a hop-head. Loved the previous years? Then you will love this years offering. (393 characters)

Photo of marc77
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper hue w/ good clarity. Persistant ivory white head leaves Belgian lace. An assertive, pungent combination of a citrusy cascade and piney hops hit the nose immediately, then are ceded by medium caramel and hints of rich, pleasant butterscotch. Although the hop bitterness is quite assertive, the rich malt character isn't overshadowed, and toasty malt and well integrated, deep caramel provide a firm malt backbone to support the hops. Hop flavor mirrors the hop nose, and is both citrusy and piney, but when coupled with malt sweetness, could be perceived as sweetly spruce like. Moderately bodied, w/ a dextrinous, full mouthfeel. Fruity esters, although subdued, emerge late and provide additional complexity. Finishes w/ a delectable lingering combination of crisp hop bitterness and mild caramel sweetness. Tongue coating bready grain is perceptible upon exhaling. This years Celebration (2002) retains the hop profile of previous years, but the malt profile seems to possess greater depth and richness. Simply put, it's one of the greatest American IPAs around. Who needs spices in a winter brew, when spicy aromatics can be acheived with hops? It's a beautiful beer, especially when consumed at cellar temps or above. (1,228 characters)

Photo of sweethome
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This has been my favorite beer since before BA existed. Just a note for perspective.

Pour is bright amber with white haed - nice lacing.

Nose describes what the beer is about - fresh cascade hops balaced with sweet malty goodness. Ahhh...c-hops.

Sharp and crisp entry of bittering hops, flavor hops, citrus, and just right amount of malts.

Long, long finish...lush yet bitter.

My favorite session beer - guess it depends on defintion of session. (450 characters)

Photo of neonbrown82
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been waiting all year for this to come out since I didn't get around to reviewing it last year (and because it's really fucking good).

Pours to a dark amber color with minimal carbonation but a nice thick white head with a decent lacing. Yada yada yada, on to more important things...

This beer smells and tastes great! It's the next best thing to taking your cascade hops intraveinously. Very fruity and piney with a nice spiciness. Also a bit more of a full malt character than their Pale Ale.

I was so glad to see this on the shelves at work that I had to take home a case. Hopefully this will last past my birthday in a week, but the drinkability of this beer may prove me wrong. (698 characters)

Photo of Reidrover
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2002 bottle i got the very last one at my local store..all gone so happy i got it now.
Good appearance pours a nice murky brown with a smallish head that leaves a lace down the glass.
The smell is unbelievable..marvelous the last few nights I have had some great smelloing beers this is another!..malt and big hop smell combine, a work of art.
very treacly taste bitter aftertaste on back of tongue..strong coffee even..a meal in a bottle.
Lovelly over the tongue warming..
Very drinkable for such a strong brew..and none of the stringent alchol taste..great beer. (581 characters)

Photo of marcpal
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. This was an outstanding beer, what a great year for this SN.

A: Yellow gold and dark with a shiny nice foam head. Moderate lacing.

S: Floral hops. Not too subtle but ridiculously appetizing. True IPA aroma.

T: Contains both ends here- the grapefruit citrus hops with the spicy hops are in great combination. Really a treat to drink this one.

M: Bit of the oily hops with medium carbonation.

D: Not so much a seasonal only, really should be brewed all year around. The hops are great in this one and has nearly ideal balance of a terrific IPA.

Definite must try, pick some extra up before this season is out. (652 characters)

Photo of JednoPivoProsim
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Celebration. Poured from 12 fl oz bottle into Ommegang 10 year anniversary tulip. "Celebration Ale is a special ale for the holidays." Oops, I guess I'm a little behind. Do MLK and Presidents' Day count?

Appearance: Nice thick head, looks like you could balance a stack of coins on top. Cloudy amber color, definitely some sediment and "quiet" carbonation activity.

Smell: Hello! A citrusy hop surprise. I feel like this one's got a lot more aroma than some of my other recent IPA tastings. Could it be that seasonals are generally fresher by nature or is this due to the advertised "fresh hops?"

Taste: Full of flavor. This IPA is more on the citrusy, as opposed to the piney, side. I like it a lot - it's got a spicy kick on the tongue!

Mouthfeel: It's pretty smooth and coats the entire mouth...

Interlude: Yikes, I guess I liked this so much, I ran out before I finished the review, a first! Time to crack into #2 (holding the bottle up to the light, there is a ton of sediment swimming around)...

Mouthfeel (cont): Mouth feels good.

Drinkability: I could move through a few of these pretty easily. And SN always seems to be priced right for the job.

Overall: I like this better than Torpedo, but now I'm anxious to try these back to back. No doubt in my mind why Celebration gets the praise it does - and deserves! (1,333 characters)

Photo of marksto
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one is always the highlight of the holiday beer season for me - a true classic. It's never easy to find in this neck of the woods (Tampa Bay) - this year the search was made more pleasant by the excellent price ($29 a case) at the new Total Wine store.

A somewhat atypical holiday brew in that it doesn't feature any spices, herbs, or other unusual ingredients; this one lets the hops do all the talking. A big, woody, pine-tinged hop nose gives way to an explosion of classic american hop character typified by citrus/grapefruit essences; and it's all backed up by a sturdy malt backbone. It's an absolute must-have for any lover of american hops and what they can do in a beer.

Now, if only I could find some on tap someplace.... (742 characters)

Photo of ethosx19
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big head, dark copper color, hop/fruity cherry smell, and a great spicy hop taste. The 6.8% alcohol gives a nice kick without any alcohol aftertaste. This is a great beer that is moving to the top of my list. (208 characters)

Photo of therica
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I don't understand why seasonal beers that are variations or even totally different get clumped together like this one, but...

11-23-2010 review of Celebration 2010
4.5 / 5.0 / 4.5 / 4.5 / 4.5

Spectacular! A true beer experience.

A= deep orange-amber, nice fluffy slushy off-white head with huge rimming and lacing.

S= massive nose of pink grapefruit and sweet malts up-front, a fantastic bouquet of scents. Various complex hops and malts ranging from sweet into the grassy become very evident. The mix seems to vary depending on serving temp.

T= luscious, nice body with plentiful malts balancing the massive hops, both hops bitters and generous florals are very apparent. Moderate carbonation.

M= a light sparkle on the tongue, plenty of hops to the point of a sting on my lips but also nice chewy malts and bitters.

D= if you like complex hops and malts, beg Sierra Nevada to decide to make this a year-round beer.

12-13-2009 review of Celebration 2009
4.0 / 4.0 / 4.5 / 4.0 / 4.0

Very typical West-Coast trendy piney bitter IPA using generous amounts of West-Coast trendy Cascade hops in the wort.

IBU 62 (compared to the standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at 37).

A= nice, typical amber copper appearance for a strong Pale Ale, nice head but very little head if poured carefully..

S= pine and caramel malts, with grassy hints, some malts evident when it's warmer.

T= pine, mild florals, caramel, slightly grassy, very nice malts. Nice typical offering by Sierra Nevada although I don't know that it's much different than their standard all-year fare unless it's the extra malty flavor. I guess I expected more of a seasonal twist to the taste, maybe there's a touch extra caramel but not much else of seasonal note. Still of great merit on its own.

M= clean, with slight syrupy effect on the tongue; dusty grassy dry malts that stay around on the palate for quite some time. Mild astringency.

D= very drinkable if you're an IPA fan who appreciates the inclusion of bold malts. (1,997 characters)

Photo of jeremyd365
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh my oh my! This 2008 batch poured a delightful coppery amber with a bit of light tan head. It smelled of rich, sweet hops. In the mouth it doesn't feel too thick and the bitterness can begin to be sensed. The taste isi wonderous! A crisp, hard hop bite while remaining quite sweet and piney as well. It finishes with bitter hops which leave a great flavor behind. Very drinkable and the 6.8% isn't noticable at all..at first. This is a great IPA which I think I'll be stocking up as my winter sipper of choice so far! YUM! Highly recommend! (542 characters)

Photo of IPhantom
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I cannot believe I never got around to reviewing this beer. It's probably the beer that's most responsible for me going nuts for craft beer (that wasn't made by Magic Hat). This review is the 2011 version (obviously).

Goldenish amber in the glass, with a thumb-thick biscuity looking head. Lacing is sticky as hell and stays through the whole glass, with clouds hanging high over the pillow. The nose is, well...everything good about hops. You like pine? Herbs? Spice? They're all in there. I'd wear this beer like a cologne, but that might get me fired. There's a little bit of caramel back there too for good measure.

Taste is of course all hops up front. To me, this batch seems less grapefruity than in past years. There's still a lot of delightful citrusy hops up front, but less aggressive than I remember. As for the malt character, the best way I can describe it is like sweet potato fries with a little bit of an anise note. All of this tastes way better together than that description would indicate.

Mouthfeel is on the bubbly side, crisp and a little bit sticky with that citrusy aftertaste. The first few sips with a big head on it are the best. Virtually no alcohol at all for 6.8%.

This beer is one of my top picks for winter, pretty much perpetually. It's sessionable if you're careful and goes great with all that holiday food you're gonna be shoveling down. Highly recommended, as always. (1,414 characters)

Photo of BitteBier
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very attractive, not-quite-clear amber orange. Active carbonation feeds a substantial foamy, light head that dissipates rather quickly but laces quite impressively down the side of the glass. Even when well-chilled, this beer has a strong, wonderful nose--very crisp and hoppy with some sweet fruit notes as well. Hops are omnipresent in the taste, muted at the start by soft fruitiness and by some dryness at the end. A bit oily in the mouth but a good mouthfeel nonetheless and eminently drinkable. (508 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012, and it's the 6th year in a row I've picked up this favorite of mine.
12oz bottle, a rocky, ivory head tops a bronze colored ale; excellent head retention & lacing is left all over the glass. The pleasant aromas of fresh, dank, piny hops coupled with caramely, bready malt fill the nose. Huge, fresh, piny hops (some pungent grapefruit in there as well) prevail through the healthy dose of malt. Notes of rye bread crust and caramel (a little burnt) try to balance out the pine, but can't stand up to it. Pine lingers & lingers on the palate while finishing dry and bitter. Medium body, smooth but resiny reminiscent of pine tar. Overall, although it's fairly one-note with not a whole lot of complexity, I love this seasonal IPA. I'm not sure why some complain about it being too piny...that's exactly the point they're trying to make. (841 characters)

Photo of MP72
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-deep amber to almost orange color with a thick white head that lasts for days. Superb lacing.

S-Grapefruit, orange, and I could have swore maybe some corriander and of course HOPS!

T-Hops to the nines , and a strong malt presence.
Just enough bite to make you pucker and want more. This stuff is very good.

M-Medium bodied and not too much carbonation. I found it to be smooth for such a hoppy IPA.

D- Scary high,, I could drink several of these ,,, or at least I think I could. Cant say for sure how well I'd function but I am willing to find out.

If you see it buy it,, I had the 2008 and it was worth every cent. (622 characters)

Photo of aval89
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 release.

Poured a beautiful dark orange copper color with a nice soft pillowy 2 finger head. Lacing left a lot of retention on the glass.

Initial smell is citrus hop. Then u get grape fruits and a lemon zest. Also deep in there u get caramel malt notes.

First drink was super hop up front that finished with a burnt finish. Then after the second it mellows out more. You get a pine hop start that finishes with more caramel malt as you continue drinking. But still finishes hoppy. On some sips you also get a boozy finish.

This is a spectacular brew. Perfect for those cold winter nights. This beer will keep you warm. I thought last years release was a bit more maltier. But I'm a hop head and don't mind. You'll be sure to be burping hops out after this one. Very solid IPA!

Thank you Sierra Nevada!

Cheers! (820 characters)

Photo of mrpicklerelish
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Apperance- This one poured a nice orangish copper color. The head was a nice light tan color that seemed to pretty much stick around the entire time that I drank it. Or maybe I just drank it a little to fast because of how great it tasted.

Smell- I smelt a floral and ctirus smell right off the bat. Along with a hint of herbs and spices.

Taste- A very nice hoppy IPA, one of the best that I have had. While strong on hops, it tasted very smooth and went down even smoother. There was also a glimps of malt which left a nice sweeteness in my mouth.

Mouthfeel- Despite the massive hops in this brew, it seemed to go very smoothly. Not a crisp beer by any means, but not to heavy either, just right.

Drinkability- Not a session beer do to the 6.8% ABV. But I will say, everytime I run into this brew I must pick up at least a six pack.

Comments- Wow, my first time with this beer and it sure made the last part of 2003 and the beginning of 2004 a blast. When I can no longer get this very special seasonal brew it will be a sad day. But it will sure give me something to look forward to next winter. One of my now all time favorites that I will be sure not to miss towards the end of the year. (1,206 characters)

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,290 ratings.