Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

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3,289 Reviews

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Reviews: 3,289
Hads: 9,388
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.64%
Wants: 314
Gots: 1,299 | 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
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Reviews: 3,289 | Hads: 9,388
Photo of scaaven
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm not a seasoned beer connoisseur, but I must say, this beer is excellent. It's a little hard to track down, but I knew Liquor Mart in Boulder, CO would have it... they have everything. This is the 2004 brew, and there are so many spices and nuances, your senses are provided with quality stimuli. Beer was purchased at 6.99 a six pack, and judging by the review on this site, i was happy to pay. I think Sierra nevada has a tendancy to have more carbonation than neccesary, but I thought this beer had a nice compromise. Poured a deep red/brown color. Looks like some yeast still remain, so not quite filtered as it's Pale Ale brother. It's more filling than Pale ale I can tell you that much. The taste was very complex and I felt the holiday "spirits" immediatly. I'm not experienced enough to know what specific ingredients and what processes produce a specific taste, but I can say that Celebration Ale tastes like an evening in a cabin during the dead of winter with the fire blazing and you snuggled up under a warm semi-stiff blanket. For being a 6.8% beer, you hardly taste the alcohol. Some beers rely on that alcohol taste to "flavor" the beer, but not this one. They've taken quality ingredients to almost exactly compliment any alcohol. Thanks Sierra Nevada for a quality brew! (1,292 characters)

Photo of dgallina
2.83/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

2004 vintage on-draft. Pours a very attractive clear golden copper color with a good, persistent head and substantial lacing. Enticing hop flower aromas. Strong hop oil flavors which finish with extremely potent and almost metallic hop bitterness. This vintage was far too hoppy for my taste. While the hop flower smell and flavors are interesting, they are ultimately overwhelmed by the hop bitterness and overpowering after-tastes. I found it very difficult to finish my pint. (478 characters)

Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me describe what sits in front of me...

1 pint glass filled with a 2003 Celebration
1 pint glass filled with a 2004 Celebration

I am conducting my own mini vertical tasting.

The appearance is absolutely gorgeuos with a sticky head and ruby read body. The aroma is typical Sierra Nevada on both years, but the 2004 has a lot bigger "Kick in the face" hop trait. The 04 had a very strong grapefuit as the 03 had a milder citrus smell. Now for the taste. The 04 seems extremely fresh and chock-full-of-hoppiness delight. The 03 has a much drier and weaker hop presence. I must add that the 2003's head is much more sticky and the lacing is out of this world compared to the 2004. The mouthfeel is great on both years although the 03 is much more enjoyable. This is truly a fine specimin for an IPA and I look forward to it each year. I had to, of course, buy a case of the 04. I will be cellaring a six pack for future years. I agree with others that this beer is much better after taking a nap for a year or so in a dark basement! The 2004 was just a little too fresh; if that is even possible or a bad thing. (1,121 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
4.59/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed in October 2004 at the Toronado on tap. Was the first time I have ever had a Celebration before. I've seen so many people rave about; so I figure why not have it from the tap for the first time. Poured with a decent head and left little lace while drinking through the pint. Smells of flowers, fruits and hops come out in the nose. Tastes of the exact smells. More hops that I expected. I was thinking there would be a heavier alcohol taste aproaching a weak style barleywine. A nice carbonated and crisp beer. Very drinkable. It still wasn't as good as I thought it would be though. Maybe because I thought it was a different style. Still a good-very good beer worth picking up.

Update 2003 version-

Tastes pretty much the same except maybe a slight bit less hops. Still an excellent beer. I have had several samples of the 2004 and now that I know what to expect, I think I will change my original rating. This is a very class beer.

Update 2005 version-

Finding myself now drooling over this beer. Purchased a case of the 2005 from Costco for about $24. This years seems very hoppy with a big pine or woodsy flavor to the hops. Almost feel like raising drinkability to a 5. Already looking to buy another case to get me by until 2006.

Update 2006 version-

This version is as good as it always is. Seems even more like a traditional IPA this year. Plenty of hops and a nice caramel malt base. Very well balanced.

Update 2007 version-

Again, a winner. Maybe one of the best yet. Of the three bottles I've had, they seem more sweet, but maybe not quite a hopped up. Compare this years version to Lost Coast Indica. Very good as usual.

Update 2008 version-

Seems to bit a bit more malty this year. Still very good, but I've enjoyed all the past years a bit more. Still won't stop me from buying a case each year...and from drinking the rest of this years stash. Still an above average IPA. (1,907 characters)

Photo of allengarvin
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle of 2004, just available here.

Appearance: Reddish-mahogany, clear, with a slight head.

Aroma: Citrus, flowery aroma.

Flavor: Hops hops and more hops. Floral and, er, maybe grapefruit-like fruitiness is how the hops taste to me this year. If you concentrate on looking beyond the hops, there's some sweet malt back there, but it's not real prominent. Bitterness lingers for a long time after the finish.

I've been a fan of this beer for a long time. In my beer-label books, the earliest Celebration Ale label I have is from 1993. But I think it tastes best when it ages for at least a year, preferably two. The aroma disappears, but the malt really blossoms forward, making a wondeful balance.

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy any last year, and I have no more cellared C.A. left. Fresh, it's just too bitter to be interesting. I bought 2 six packs, and after this review, I'll be putting all the rest up. (924 characters)

Photo of henrysunset
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation - 12oz twist-off bottle of their seasonal brew. 2004.

Look - Dark amber, I was actually expectign somethign darker, buf this is a very pretty looking beer no less. Big white/tan head and plenty of lace.

Smell - a variety of spices accompany a strong hop aroma. Not citrusy like amy local hoppy brews, but just a nice slightly sweet sharp and moderately bitter scent.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Yummy. It's kinda thick and fills the back of my throat. It has a lot of hops but they are nicely balanced with a malty flavor and a spicy taste. No specific spices stick out, but it's a sort of nutmeg/cinnamony blend. It is quite enjoyable and warming. Bit toasty tasting too. Almost pumpkin'ey, though i'm sure i'm just associating with the spices.

Drinkable, oh yes. It's tasty. It's balanced, and as a winter beer it's totally repeatable. (852 characters)

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

Well haven't written a review in a bit but this brew is surely worth it. 2004 Release. Pours a deep copper color with a fluffy offwhite head that just sticks around nicely. Aromas are super hoppy, giving off some citrus, a little pine, and just a hint of malt. Initial flavors start of very hoppy with a piney resinous like flavor. The mood of this beer quickly changes over with a nice creamy malt backing that portrays a bit of biscuit and just a hint of caramel. This brew progresses back to the hops thereafter, giving off a slight crisp bitterness followed by some juicy citrusy flavors that just linger on the tongue sip after sip after sip. The body of this beer is magnificent while the carbonation plays on the tongue in just the right way. This IPA is truly magnificent, and a true testament to what Sierra Nevada can do. (831 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2004 Celebration:
Pours from the stubby bottle a wonderful reddish orange color with a nice fluffy head. Beautiful. The nose on this one is upfront with citrusy grapefruity hops along with some caramel and roasted nuts. It's fun to smell.

The first taste is a blast of fresh hops...citrus and light floral tones intertwine and float atop a caramel nutty malt background. The hops run the show here and you don't hear me complaining. My case was bottled just a month ago and it shows. An extremely tasty, enjoyable treat.

Mouthfeel is lush and creamy with good carbonation. Smooth and satisfying. Drinkability is through the freakin roof. This is my fave brew of the holiday season and it pratically begs to be sessioned. I will be cellaring some to see what some age does as well. Don't miss out on Celebration this (845 characters)

Photo of far333
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004: Ruddy orange, with a thick and foamy, frothy off-white head that rises up to an inch high, and sinks slowly down, but leaves a thin layer of uneven bubbles. Lace rides up the insides of the glass. Aroma is cinnamon and floral hops, with a hint of citrus. Smooth mouthfeel, perhaps a little soft, leading to a tangy hops bitter, an interesting mix of citrus and pine. Not bitter, not overwhelming, but very even and balanced. An orange peel bitter lingers. (461 characters)

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

2004 bottling. Nice dark amber color with a bit of red. Created a good sized head that wouldn't go away and let me pour the last little bit into the glass, and left very nice sticky lacing.

Smell was good, similar to the pale ale but stronger in the hop department with a bit of alcohol.

Taste seems very similar to something I've had... hmmm... Rogue's Dead Guy Ale perhaps? Nice and malty with a hoppy bite and virtually no trace of alcohol until it hits your throat, nice aftertaste as well.

Mouth was very nice, smooth, and rich with a nice amount of active carbonation.

This stuff was great and I could drink it all the time, definately more drinkable than the Pale Ale but it definately catches up a lot faster. (729 characters)

Photo of danadeny
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

year: 2004. Redish, yellow-brown color. Small head. Smell of floral hops reminds me of a light IPA. light roasted malt flavor in the beggining. Hops is the doninant flavor, with a crisp carbonation bite on the finish. No alcohol flavor is detectibe, good for a 6.8%. Little hop after taste. A very good choice for an celebration. (329 characters)

Photo of twelvsies
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Winter 2004 brew. Appears a dark red amber color. Creamy head on top laces the glass, nice. Smells of biting hops, and citrusy fruits, lemons, limes, grapefruit. The taste of this beer is very challanging. I like a good challenge. The hops are so present the beer stings your tongue and bites you in the back of the mouth. Intense. You have to swallow the beer fast and evade the taste bud hop attack to even pick up on the maltyness. But that's ok, I don't think this beer was intended to be well balanced in that respect, it's just a hop extravaganza. Very bitter finish as well. The mouthfeel is crazy, an asrtringent biting sting for sure, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense... I know, it doesn't make sense, but who cares, this stuff is kick you in the ass good. (774 characters)

Photo of soper2000
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I more than enjoyed walking into Chumley's in Lafayette to see this hop monster on tap. I strolled up to the bar and immediately ordered one. It poured a deep orange with a 2 finger white head. Aroma is intensely hoppy, a nice citrus hoppiness. Taste was more of the same, but there is also a substantial malt backbone to back up the hops. Taste lingers on the tongue for awhile. Mouthfeel is nice and thick. This is a very solid and respectable beer. Great for when you need a hop fix. (486 characters)

Photo of necoadam
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 version

Pours out an amber/copper color with a nice head that stays with you a for little bit. Smell consisted of hops, hops, and more hops. There was some good spiciness to the beer as well. Lots of citrus lay underneath the hops, grapefruit, orange, and some lemon. Taste was hoppy, but as hoppy as the smell which was alright to me. Some good bitterness lingers on the palate for a while. Finishes with some grapefruit/orange flavors and lasts into the aftertaste. Mouthfeel was medium with the right amount of carbonation mixing in. Can't wait to get a 6 pack for this upcoming winter. A must have around Christmas time. (632 characters)

Photo of odeed
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

i celebrate every year when this comes is my favorite of the sierra beers and one of my favorites over all.its an amber style ale with a nice "winter brew" kick if ya know what i mean.its september now so we only have a few months to go!!!! (247 characters)

Photo of beerceller99
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 bottling. Sampled on 8-21-04.
Found this in the back of the cellar, it was forgotten about long ago. Almost threw it out but then thought what the hell.
Poured a nice 2 finger head which left an incredible lace on the glass.Had a reddish brown color.
The smell was of caramel sweet malts and banana oil. The taste was mostly sweet caramel with a hint of hazelnut. Had only a slight hop bite to finish.
Surprisingly ( or not ) , there wasn't even a hint of oxidation in the taste of this brew. Another gem from the cellar. (534 characters)

Photo of Southernbrew
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark-orange/brown with a 1/2" bubbly head.

The aroma is full of citrusy hops, a balanced malt backbone and a touch of spice.

Medium bodied, smooth with a small amount of carbonation. The hops come first with a blend of citrus and bitterness. A light sweetness is present the whole way through. I detect a very light spice which I guess makes this a winter-time offering. It finishes with a solid bitterness mixed with the citrus.

A very fine IPA, with a nice winter flavor. I'll be looking forward to seeing this in GA this year. (544 characters)

Photo of stoutman
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A clear winter beer with a beautiful redish orange pour. A sweet hoppy smell with a nice bite during the finish. A nice medium head with flavor. Surprisingly tasty, full of nutty, chocolatey, tootsie roll like flavors. A body that is more than I expected, each sip finishes with a short blast finishing hops! (308 characters)

Photo of crookedhalo
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003er. Pours an orangy copper color with a beige head. Deep piney, Cascade hop aroma. Some other hop is is there, Warrior or Chinook? Initially sweet on the palate, then moving towards the drier, hoppy side, finishing malty sweet and citrusy again. Pretty darn good for having a twist-off bottlecap. (300 characters)

Photo of malthead
3.1/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2003 vintage - note that as my handle indicates, I'm not a big hophead...
Nice deep amber color, huge cratering head that disappeared to almost nothing. Smells hoppy - big, juicy hops, with some citrus. Taste is... hoppy... a lot of grapefruit, maybe some pine, with very little malt sweetness. Tastes a little raw to me, with the standard oily mouthfeel on a long finish. (gotta love the hop burps, though...) If you like big hops, this might be a good example, but it's too over the top for me - if I were going to have this again, it would have to be much more balanced. (574 characters)

Photo of ngandhi
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage

Without looking at my review on the 03 Vintage, I scored the 02 exactly the same across the board.

Rosey and tropical from clear Centennials and Cascades. Moderate carbonation made soft by heavy caramel malt. Light residual sweetness brings out a dynamic citrus that truly brings this beer together. Piney finish with nutty grain. Jell-O juicy. No astringency. The floral hops thin to one-dimensional pine. Viscous malts is a touch too gummy.

Relax, relax.

2003 Vintage

The sharp bitterness in Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is cut by classic West Coast fruity/floral flavor hopping; I get notes of Centennial and Cascade with definite Cascade dry-hopping. There's too much body for an IPA, but it's cut by good carbonation that lightens the mouthfeel and intensifies the hop profile.

Either IPAs have gotten too floral, too much like pale ales, or SNCA is too close to a barleywine. My first impulse on this brew was to call it an I2PA or a barleywine. Though the bittering is only (ha!) 62 IBUs, on the light side of barleywine, the Chinook character is very pronounced and something immediately reminiscent of Rogue Old Crustacean. Sitting here today, it's a wonder than OC has twice the bittering of this beer.

The finish is long and bitter, fading into some floral and grapefruit character from the Centennials and Cascades. SNCA screams of its hops and is a perfect indication of what Centennials, Cascades, and Chinooks taste like all at once. What more can you ask from an IPA?

Relax, relax.

2002: 4.3
2003: 4.3
Overall: 4.3 (1,583 characters)

Photo of TheOtherMike
1.69/5  rDev -59.3%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I just cannot drink this beer. Beer? It seems more like a spiced cider or something - which seems appropriate for the holidays, but still something that I cannot drink. I 've tried twice but there will not be a third try. It is readily available during the holidays.

It's not the worst beer I've ever had - I think that was in Valdez, AK.
Some "Buzzard" brew I think. Thus I did not give this one the lowest scores for taste/smell/drinkability. (448 characters)

Photo of meathookjones
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Hard Times in Herndon. Pours a dark amber color with a small frothy tan head that disappeared fairly quickly. The head does create a nice lacing around the glass as it is drunk. Great aroma, which is huge in hops with some herbs and spices hanging on for the ride. Hops and fruitiness dominate the taste with a hint of spiciness and an excellent bitter finish. A great brew for a hophead to get his fix from. The mouthfeel is about average for an IPA. I find this to be a very drinkable brew as I usually have about 6 of these will playing pool, of course you will feel the 6.8% after a few. An excellent seasonal and all around brew, one of the best IPAs I have had. (686 characters)

Photo of imblane
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was the 2003 edition, poured a deep orange amber color with about 1 finger of frothy head that quickly dissipated, leaving some fine lacing in my glass. Smell was grapefruit, banana and mild citrus, with a hint of a malt backbone. Very soothing! Taste is sweet malts that are quickly taken over with a velvety bite of hops, yet never truly bitter like a Stone IPA. The overall taste is wonderfully crisp, that is refreshing and finishes dry and smooth. (Outside Temperature at tasting was 100+) Mouthfeel had just the right amount of carbonation with a slight oily texture that was very pleasing. Overall, a great Cali IPA, in either Winter or Summer. Another quality offering from Sierra Nevada! (701 characters)

Photo of tar
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 bottle. Pours a nice clear amber capped by a medium to thin head of slightly off-white bubbles. As the head diminishes and the beer is consumed a nice curtain of lacing lines the walls of the glass. A full aroma of hops--floral and citrusy with a bit of spiciness, greet the nose. Great fruity hop taste, with some good bitterness in the finish. Some sweetness and breadlike flavors come through as well, particularly as it warms, but really are hidden behind the hops. A great tasting and relatively easy drinking beer which I look forward to each year. A definite favorite. (I'm finally transfering my review from my own files, and just re-reading my notes is causing me to look forward several months for its next release) (730 characters)

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,289 ratings.