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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.

3,402 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,402
Hads: 9,923
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 19.76%
Wants: 349
Gots: 1,727 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 3,402 | Hads: 9,923
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.94/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! SNPA on steroids.

This flawless IPA has a bewildering array of hop flavors and aromas. It pours a reddish copper with a nice dollop of dense foam. The aroma is fruity with floral and resiny notes, very hoppy. The tate is a {celebration} of hops with a firm juicy malt backdrop.

An initial burst of pithy bitterness gives way to beautiful notes of passionfruit, guava, citrus and mango notes. This fruityness is probably from the yeast and the hops. The finish is very piney and lasts forever. Malt is evident even in the finish, making this a perfectly balanced beer. The mouthfeel is luscious and creamy, with the perfect level of carbonation (minimal). I could drink this beer in place of water.

Sierra Nevada makes such kickass beers, the hype is totally justified. This is probably my favorite IPA.

Worthy of my 250th review.

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Photo of ddarden
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a 2004 I have had cellared since Oct of 2004. I also love this beer fresh. SN nudged me to the hoppier side years ago so I will always have a special place in my heart for their beers.

The beer poured a deep clear copper color with a wonderful rocky off white head that left plenty of lacing as I polished this off. This is a great looking IPA. The nose no longer has the traditional IPA smell. The malt really comes out to the forefront with a subdued hop smell. Also still has that same smell all SN beers seem to have, I guess it is from their yeast strain.

The beer still tastes great but different than fresh. This is much more mellow a beer with a great malt to hop balance. The hops are very present on the front and backend with the malt all in the middle. Very nice lingering bitter on the back of the tongue with a good medium mouth feel.

Luckily I have cellared more to compare later. This is a great drinking beer in its current state so I will have to get busy with the ones I have left!

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

SN Celebration Ale is what finally turned me into a full-fledged hop head and I'm surprised that I've been drinking it for six months and forgot to review it. I've had many, many IPA's since my first Celebration Ale and every bottle I drink (from my quickly dwindling cache) continues to surprise me with just how good a beer can be.

The pour is quite impressive - a medium brown brew with a dirty white head gives some hint that there may be complex roasted caramels in the flavor. The head is thick and sticky and hangs around for a good long time.

The smell is equally inviting - plenty of grassy hops in this brew with an extra dose of grapefruit in case you weren't paying attention. You can also smell a bit of the caramelized sugars which is very reminiscent of golden-brown toast.

The taste - ahhh, the taste.... All the hops that the nose promised with a wonderful malt back to keep things very smooth and well balanced. To start with the malt: certainly caramel flavors, they've roasted that barley good and long to get plenty of burnt sugars. Subtle notes of molasses, bread and grain round out the malt base. Add a bit of fruit notes that you'd find in an amber ale - very subtle hints of peach and apricot compliment the sweet parts of the brew. Then there are the hops, big and bold but not overpowering. Taste-wise the primary note is grapefruit though there is quite a bit of grassy flavor in there as well - you can certainly taste the 'green' in this beer! Minor floral hop notes but only as an afterthought - they're far from the primary flavor.

Mouthfeel is pretty damn good as well - nicely carbonated for lots of fuzz on the tongue. The carbonation also leaves a very nice finish - no heavy aftertastes or oily residue on the palate. This is a medium to light bodied brew; it's more refreshing than weighty.

Drinkability is a solid 5 - there's no debate there. I'm hoarding the last few bottles I've got and slowly doling them out so they'll last me until the next release. Age seems to be quite kind to Celebration Ale - it's getting a bit smoother as time goes on and the hops are a bit less harsh (that or my palate has become more accustomed to a big hop flavor) It feels a bit odd drinking a brew with a snowy winter scene during the summer months but the taste is superb year-round.

[edit 03-15-2006: I want to be clear that I'm reviewing the 2004 SNCA. The 2005, while good, is at best a 4. Less caramel malt presence, more toasted 'burnt' flavor. The hops are more raw and unrefined, age has so far not improved the brew. Here's hoping 2006 is a better year!]

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Photo of danielharper
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased from Stong Bros. Liquor, Fayetteville TN. 2004 vintage.

This beer poured a nice dark amber color with good clarity but also a high opacity -- no cloudiness, but I couldn't really see through it. Topping this beer was a nice thick bubble-filled head that quickly halved in size, then stuck around for the rest of the beer. I also like the Holiday Theme on the outside of the bottle -- possibly my favorite of the Sierra Nevadas I've seen.

Smell was decent, with a strong hop presence (normal for an IPA) mixed with a sweet red fruit aroma. A bit overbalanced towards the hops for my taste, but overall a nice aroma that makes me think "IPA" pretty clearly.

Taste is down a notch from that, as the beer's hoppiness really dominates the flavor, to the point at which it's actually overpowering the fruit completely. Especially as the aftertaste hits me, I find this beer so bitter that it's almost difficult to drink. Perhaps this is to-style for an IPA to some degree, but I would prefer that it be a bit more balanced.

Mouthfeel is decent, with a nice foamy body that coats the tongue, but the carbonation and hoppiness actually burn the mouth a tongue a bit, and make it more difficult to get down. Decent, not unpleasant, but not exactly my taste.

Overall drinkability is decent -- I could pound two or three of these if I had them available, but for the $2.25 that I paid for this single, I can do a lot better. The Bridgeport IPA is still my favorite of the style, although I'll keep an eye out for the 2005 so I can try that when it comes out.

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Photo of Scheity
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

We had this at New Year's, so our season was appropriate for celebration. And after a few of these, the celebration was well-lubricated.

It pours dark amber, a nice shade for the dark winter months. The smell, well, very hoppy and citrus-y. Prepares you well for what's about to happen to your body.

The taste is an onslought of hops, and it fills your entire mouth and nose with the flavor. The hops aren't quite as flavorful as other great IPAs, but you do get the nice flowery scent and wonderfully bitter flavor that will warm you quite nicely.

Tough for a session beer because it's such a heavy and powerful taste. But, luckily, a session with SN Celebration isn't a long one, with its relatively large ABV

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Riding on the heels of recent hop harvests, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company takes advantage with a hop-dominant, yet malty-rich beer that is both hearty enough and zesty enough for a compliment to many winter dishes.

The pour delivers a bright classic amber color with a modest haze. A dance of carbonation fuels a consistent and foamy head that retains as well as beers can and lacing with rings and intermitten patterns throughout. Foam of eggshell color takes on a moussy texture. Could this be the poster child for how IPA's should look? Aside from the richer amber color, I'd say so.

Pungent with citrus and grass, the nose delivers a lush and delicate blend of ruby red grapefruit, pine resin, and floral/flowery notes burried a bit under the malts but come in late in conjunction with sweetly alcohol scent. Spicy and bready, the beer takes on a graham cracker-like aroma that compliment the hops well.

Bread crust flavors of French baguette work with caramel and graham cracker dry/bready yet spicy flavor sets the tone for the malt base, of which provides the springboard for an exquisite display of hop dominance. Sweetness steps aside to allow for sharp, spicy, and vibrant citrus flavor and bitterness delivered by the Cascade hop in such a maner as only Sierra Nevada can deliver. Just shy of sharing the juicy and lush tropical flavors of Centennial, Citra, and Amarillo, this beer's hop profile is nearly ideal. Slightly grassy and vegital because of the leafy residue of whole hop cones, the beer carries a pungent bitterness that compliments the malts as much as it detracts from the crisp hoppiness.

Medium to start, the modestly creamy textures transition to a consistent fade toward a malty/dry mouthfeel just before the finish. Obviously the beer concludes with a long and resiny bitterness with a hoppy dryness that accompanies a minty warming/cooling feel deep into the aftertaste.

A remarkable beer in that it's complex with the malty/hoppy interplay- interesting that such balance and variance in taste can be found in such simple recipe profile. Yet, the beer can be tasted with such ease that it's dangerous at 6.8%. An absolute delight of a beer and a welcome to my drinking rotation each winter.

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Photo of superdavex
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured to a very dark amber. I found this beer to have a very pleasant holiday aroma. This is one hell of a hoppy, fruity beer. Those two main tastes, along with some others, really combine into something very complex. I really couldn't finish too many of these as it is a very heavy, filling beer. Still, a nice treat for the holidays, enjoyed in moderation.

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

12oz bottle from somewhere local. 2004 vintage.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 1 1/4" light tan head. Beer was clear, dark amber, and laced nicely. Aroma is fruity hops. Taste is also fruity hoppiness, with a reasonable malt backbone, and closes with crisp hop leaves on the tongue. Mouthfeel and drinkability are very good as well. One of the standards for the American IPA style, I believe.

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Photo of whynot44
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium bodied, nice copper/amber color with a creamy off-white head.

Aroma is grapefruit and piney hops.

Taste starts with a touch of malt followed immediately by a burst of tart grapefruit flavor with a pine undertone. A very well hopped ale with a lingering grapefruit aftertaste.

Smooth and easy to drink with just a bit of alcohol warmth. Very nice anytime.

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Photo of Star80
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004. Pours out a reddish copper, though not nearly as red as it appears on their website. Cream colored head stays intact and laces the glass. Upon first cracking open the bottle, I'm greeted by a spicy hop smell with hints of cinnamon. The beers smell and taste have a distinct grapefruit, resiny pine, and holiday spice character. Malts sit back a bit, but they offer a nice caramel toastyness to the mix. This beer that I'm drinking is probably at least six months old and has had some shift in the flavors. The hops are still there, but have faded as much as 25%. The mouthfeel is about right, perhaps a tad thin. I love this beer fresh and its cult following is well deserved.

I will review next years batch as fresh as possible.

EDIT - Reviewed below, 11/5/2010, new batch

I said that I would review this beer again fresh when given the opportunity, and since I got it before it even hit the sales floor, I would say it's a fresh batch! Beer pours out a copper color with a good inch or so head, smells like pine and some pungent grapefruit, some sweetness from the malt/alcohol in nose. The taste is similar to to smell, but the alcohol sweetness turns into a warming caramel aftertaste that actually balances well with all the hops. Some have said the maltiness in some SN beers can be biscuity, there is a trace of that there too, and a pungent and resinous hops aftetaste from the dry hopping. It would be unfair to judge this beer after it aged because you would lose that extra layer of hops. Anyway, the balance and mouthfeel of the beer is very good for such a hoppy brew. It is quite drinkable in all its glory.

Sooo, few things have changed in five years for this beer, notably its regular year round cousin Torpedo. How does it compare? I don't have one to A/B test right in front of me but I do have to admit this beer isn't quite as lustrous now that I have been enjoying Torpedo fresh lately. I would actually say Torpedo has a bolder hop aroma and an even denser hop flavor. Celebration is more classic California IPA, whereas Torpedo reminds me more of some other IPA from the East Coast, with their tropical tasting hops. Both have a solid maltiness to back it all up and give *some* balance. I would say Celebration is more caramel, Torpedo is more biscuity.

Now, which one do I prefer nowadays? Well, even though I have now reviewed this fresh I can't say I will change any of my rating as they were pretty spot-on. Overall I am lucky that we live in the beer age that we do, and I can get fresh Torpedo anytime at my local grocery store, and still look forward to Celebration in the Winter ;-)

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Photo of goonster
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


I bought a case of 2001, when I thought I was buying 2004. Doh! This is still an interesting exercise, and I can't say I regret the purchase.

Pours turbid with a thick, off-white, creamy head, that is not very persistent. Some lacing. Color is light amber to dark orange. Clarity is poor. Overall the apperance is, ahem, "chewy."

Aroma is gentle and sweet, like wildflower honey. Some hops is definitely present in the nose, but very mellow. No alcohol in aroma.

Flavor is full and balanced. Highlights of hop bouquet (normally the featured characteristic of this beer) have faded, but this is still very drinkable and very good. No alcohol flavor or warming. Hop flavor still bests malt sweetness by a smidge.

This beer has aged well, but is presumably quite a bit past its prime. My first bottle was in very good condition, with no oxidation or skunking. This reminds me of a very good ESB with American hop character and no mineral harshness.

Carbonation is moderate and mouthfeel is full, but not heavy. Good, moderate hop bitterness that lasts into finish. Very mild astringency becomes apparent in aftertaste.

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Photo of hustlemuscle
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber/gold, with mild carbonation and lots of suspendies. Not overly nosey, mild hoppiness, but oooh boy is it good. Crisp, sharp hops with a really smooth, almost creamy malt body holding it together. Good hop bight, wich accentuates the crispness. An all day drinker, one of the best I have had in a long time. The hops do not have as much of a presence as other IPAs, but the beer is not wanting because of it.

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

poured a medium copper color with white puffy head that left a slight lacing. the smeel is of hops with a fruity, citrus aftertone.taste is enjoyable with a mixture of hop bitterness and dryness. Good drinkability, I wish I had bought more than one in my mixed six pack

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Photo of wheatyweiss
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer of 2004 from a liquor store trying to get it sold...not a bad buy at 5$!!

Presentation was a 12oz brown shorty bottle with a nice winter scene on the label. Dated 2004.

ABV = 6.8%

Appearance was a medium amber color with a nice bubbly off-white head that left slight lace around the top of the old pint glass.

Aroma was hoppy and full bodied with a few fruity estery type tones.

Mouthfeel was average, with a crisp, medium carbonation reaction on the tongue.

Flavor was a punch in the cascades!, the finish had a little bit of a burnt caramel flavor that melds nicely with the hops.

Overall this was a damn good seasonal IPA that I'll look for next Christmas-time. It was refreshing, crisp and beautifully balanced.

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Photo of bucko
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one came as a pleasant surprise! The color is a darker copper tone with an off-white head. The smell of the cascade hops is a nice punch in the mouth and you can definitely smell and taste the other dry-hopped additions, in this case chinook and centennial hops. Flavor wise, this beer packs a punch as well... clean, smooth, warm, balanced. Mmm. This is the kind of seasonal beer you can look forward to.

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Photo of shalowlou
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a six pack and started the celebration...

Appearance: It is quite the beautiful brew, nice and amber, very very handsome.

Smell: the cannabis (not that cannabis guys...the hops!) family meets the rose family in a feast for the nostrils. It smells amazing, but the problem might be the taste...

Taste: Ok people...flowers smell good...but they don't really taste so hot. The brew is quite extraordinary but I must admit that I gave this beer three tries over a couple of weeks and the first two I was simply disgusted. It's bitter and has a taste which inflames the senses but is hard to describe as being good. I finally had my third bottle about a week after I had first tried it and was able to appreciate it. It was a shock at first, but after my taste buds were able to anticipate the taste, it became quite an experience and I can safely say now that I am going to try this again next year.

Mouthful: A litter thicker than the pale ale.

Drinkability: If hops are your thing, this brew certainly can be a session beer.

Notes: I had quite an experience with this beer, almost as if my palate had matured through the experience of a six-pack of Celebration Ale. For that, this beer will always have a special place in my heart.

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Photo of beercollector
3.76/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried a 2003 Celebration tonight. This one is reaching the end of its run. It poured a light amber the you could see through. Very little head and light carbonation.

This one had very little aroma. The taste sarted a little sweet and then went to bitter with a herb flavor. A very light mouthfeel and quick finish.

This is a short session beer for an evening but this vintage will soon be past its prime. I'd drink a few in an evening or use it as a starter to move to stronger ales or barley wines.

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

Pours a dusty orange amber with a nice head, light lacing down the sides. The smell is a clean cascade, a bit citrusy with pine notes and a notable grapefruit aroma. This is a hoppy beer, but really well balanced and smooth. The hops are flavorful and not just bitter with notes of grapefruit, floral and piney flavors and a clean bitterness in the back. For an IPA this is pretty drinkable, it is balanced and smooth and very warming. This is a great beer to go to bed on on a chilly night.

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Photo of sprackops
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a recently unearthed notepad:

SNCA 2003 sampled 12/25/04
Presentation: Classic stubby bottle adorned with red and white, poured into a nonic imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Dark red bordering on brown. Quite a lot of sediment.

Smell: Pine, tea, nutty malt.

Taste: Sweet malty character with accompanying bracing hop bitterness on the finish, subdued piney and citric hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, highly carbonated.

Drinkability/comments: Much better balanced with age. Drinkability has improved, but the alcohol content will sneak up on the unwary drinker.

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Photo of Opethsprite
2.08/5  rDev -49.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Taken from a written account a few weeks back...

The bottle claims that this ale is unique, and....well, I suppose it is. (Not that this is a good thing.) The nose was a whacked-out combination of cedar, bitter orange, and menthol. I should have quit right there. I can't figure out why everyone loves this stuff: the taste of burning wood and mint leaves with a powerful jolt of alcohol was too much for me. There was a perfect level of carbonation, though! For me, this beer is not worth the hype. It's good for keeping around to drink once in a decade when you're just bored with the usual beers. Gross!

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Photo of bceaglejoe
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Poured something like a cherry-wood color with about a half-inch white head. The retention was excellent, as it stayed with the beer until I finished it. Hop aroma dominated the nose, and I caught a bit of pine as well.

Tasting: Very hoppy on the tongue. Not quite as malt-balanced as other beers of this style, but tasty nonetheless. There also was a little bit of spice flavor. I scored mouthfeel and drinkability slightly lower because the bitterness was a little more than I liked. Plus, the higher alcohol content would make this less drinkable as a "session beer."

This was an excellent beer on tap. Wonder what next winter will bring...

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

12oz short brown twist cap bottle. No freshness date but the label on the neck of the bottle has brewed for. *2003*
Appearance: Pours a nice amber chestnut hued brew. On top….a fluffy froth foams up to a thick rocky head. On the nose a nice hop aroma with hints of citrus and herbs with a touch of spiciness in the nose.
Taste: Fresh hops with a bitter sweet oil flavor; malt flavor and a nice whole grain breadiness; and slight hints of caramel. Decent hop bitterness comes through; and then a nice fruitiness. Great holiday brew!

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Photo of ypsifly
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

'04 vintage.

Amber with a touch of orange with a generous white head That sticks around and leaves decent lacing.

Smells of strong floral hops. Has that typical west coast hop aroma kicked up a few notches. Very nice. Enough to make a hop head salivate upon first sniff. This is what I want an AIPA to smell like. Its as if someone at SN took a sip of Two Hearted and said, "Oh yeah...take this!"

Tastes like Bigfoot's little brother. Starts off with a mouthfull of malt and then quickly changes to strong hops, but the transition is a lot smoother than Bigfoot. Perfect mouthfeel for the style. Full but not chewy.

Celebration is a good name for this fine brew as its quite drinkable and makes for an excellent party beer. Not your typical holiday brew as most breweries are making spiced winter warmers while the good folks at SN are kicking this one out, but I like it. I look forward to this one's release every year. They should brew this as their year 'round IPA and introduce a spiced spruce ale as their holiday seasonal....just an idea.

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

Thanks to Oliver Twist!

Pours a reddish, golden beer with nice white head that clings on to the glass. Quite some carbonation visible through the all clear brew.

Comes on nice and hoppy (as expected) bearing traces of pepper, citrus, lemon, maybe some more fruit and carbonation.

Hits palatte string with pepper and hoppy citric aroma soothed by strong malts. Some alcohol, nice sweet flavour throughout until finsih wich is rich, with a long bitter aftertaste that is also somewhat dry.

Nice and tasty ipa, but no way what i think a christmas brew should be like. Remove the christmas stamp on this since its just good beer.

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

Previous years of this have not pleased my pallete at all. This years batch (2004) however is near perfection for the hop lover. In clear west coast style this beer is screaming with hop character. This beer's color is as attractive as a good Pale can get, with a nice light head.
The hop character here is the main experience. Such a nice blend of Hop flavors. Each sip of this beer leaves you with a great citrusy tartness; not for the faint of heart (or pallete). The maltiness is hard to really detect behind all the hops, but you now its there because the beer doesn't appear thin at all.
Don't recommend this as a session brew, but it is great to have 2-3 with a belly filling dinner of meats and potatoes.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,402 ratings.