Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

9,370 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 9,370
Reviews: 3,357
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 304
Gots: 1,282 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 9,370 | Reviews: 3,357
Photo of farHillsBrewer
4.79/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've bought at least a case of SNCA every year since 1993 and consider it one of my all time favorites. A truly legendary beer. I know at least a dozen people who independently have told me it is their favorite beer.
Although a seasonal, served at pubs starting every November, there is no spice added. It is purely malt and hops, or rather hops, hops, malt and more hops. The predominant hop is Cascade, but it is dry-hopped with Centennial. When a bottle in uncapped, you can smell the hops across the room. The hoppiness pervades throughout, from the bittering, to the flavor, and on into the aroma and the extensive length. Then aftertaste has you puckering, but the malt sweetness in the next mouthfull, starts you off the at the other end of the scale, circles you through the spectrum, over and over again. Although a consistent 6.8% ABV, and quite bitter, it's easy to pop open another, or to drink by the pitcher in draft form.
As an example of an American IPA, it is the standard.
The color is dark copper with a frothy head that generously laces your glass in a series of parallel lines all the way down. Islands of "dirty" hops float on top of the liquid, sparking daydreams as you savor the excellence of the beer known as Celebration.

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

Pours a murky amber color. Very odd head that leaves almost no lace. Smells much the same as SNPA, but amplified, mostly pine and tropical fruit. Taste as well is similar to SNPA, but more malt and hops.

Overall, this is a very nice IPA. Perhaps a bit "raw" right now, but still very tasty. I wish it were available year round.

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

Every year I look forward to trying Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale. This beer is now so legendary as a seasonal offering that you have dozens of other microbreweries and brewpubs across the nation offering a similar winter seasonal. And remember, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The beer poured a deep amber color. As usual for Sierra Nevada, the head retention was excellent.

The aroma was a mix of spicy hops and caramel. The type of rich malt base in the aroma was a preclude of what was to come... which is usually a full-bodied sweetness.

And it came. A remarkable balance earns this beer top honors in taste.

All in all, a very drinkable brew. I think I'll buy another six pack soon.

Photo of inebrius
3.46/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

11/25/04: Que Paso? Drinkability? Ever had spruce tea? Was I stoned down there in 2003 or am I stoned now?

01/12/03: It's beauty is in its drinkability. I find it difficult to believe that Sierra Nevada keeps this brew seasonal. Heady copper. Citrus leaf and roasted nut nose. Exceptionally balanced through a draught and every sip puts the pressure on to sip anew.

Photo of walleye
3.62/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 5.99 a sixer not a bad buy poured a copper red. with a light tan head. aroma hops, malts, pine, citrus, some yeast. flavor, citrus, hops, pine, nice clean taste and finish. will get more of this was told that this ages well. bieristgut said he has a 2003 that we can compare.

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

Appearance - Thick tan head forms on the pour. Color is reddish amber. There is a slight suspended haze in the beer which looks likle it could be yeast and/or spices. There is also a bit of yeast left over in the bottle.

Smell - There is a strong hop nose on this beer. Malt aroma is also present, but is not as strong. This seems appropriate to the style.

Taste - This is a delightful mix of hop bitterness, malt, and spice. the hops really stand out more than anything else, and the spicy flavors are very subtle. Maybe the "spice" is really the complexity of the hops. Hop bittness lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - This beer has a pretty thick and chewy mouthfeel. for something sold as a holiday beer, this is a good thing.

Drinkability - The taste and aroma of the beer are so inviting that it is difficult to put down. It is a bit on the heavy side, but I'd like another!

Comments - This really is an ale worth celebrating. The aroma combined with the taste of this beer makes it really outstanding.

Photo of watermelonman
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured to a bright and pretty shade of red and orange. The head is medium and has good retention, and it's leaving gobs of lace behind.

The smell is literally a punch of raw hops. The taste follows a similar line, with the malt profile detectable up front but quickly fading in the finish. The mouthfeel is definitely good, being sharp without being too sharp.

The hop flavor seems very raw. It's not overwhelming or totally out of balance, but I think being just a bit more mellow would help the taste. Aging this thing just might do the trick.

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

I know all my BA brethren love this beer so I am trying it again with some mix of high expectations and skepticism. I hope I'm doing the right thing here as the photo is for 2001 vintage and I am having 04's.

Pours almost see-through amber-no head, no lace, but it does have some continuing carbonation which is a little surprising. Smells sappy and rich, not too overspiced --it has been several years since I have tried one of these and maybe I was unfair to think poorly of it.

It tastes very piney-malty and rich. It is a little barleywine-esque but not too far there for it to bother me as I am not a barleywine fan. It has some cinnamon and finishes pine-sappy which I rather like. It is almost an ideal example of the celebration type brew, yet there are others of this ilk that I am more willing to give a higher score.

Mouthfeel is good although maybe a bit too sticky on the finish.
Drinkability is average. If you want more than 2 of these, you need to have your head examined.

Photo of wailingwench
3.29/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I thought that this was going to be winter warmer style. Celebration should "fall" into the autumn/harvest category. They seriously need to remove the references to a cabin in the mountains cloaked in snow, the red coloring of the label, and the poinsettas. Bad SN. Bad.

This brew suffers from the hyped up syndrome. It is not stellar, interesting, unique, or seasonal to rate its high rating.

Eye Candy: Appearance here will be degraded due to misleading bottle label. Deep amber with thick 2 finger head. Superb retention and hop clumping. Risiing carbonation bubbles vanished halfway through, lending to the posssibility of a thicker brew.

The Nose Knows: Initial honey-like sweet malts that give way to a floral and finish piney.

Tongueland: Quick dash of sweetness rapidly killed by grapefruit-citrus and finishes resinous piney. Lingering but not oily. Nice clean finish.

Bender factor: I am partial to Souther Tier Harvest, it is a better brew than this. When SN wants to own up that Celebration is not a winter brew, I will try it again. Otherwise, it will not find a place in my fridge.

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

2004 Celebration Ale printed on the neck of the bottle.

Appearance: A hazy deep copper color with a crusty, light tan head. Nice lacings throughout the beer.

Smell: "West coast" hop oils, pine, and a floral citrus aroma definitely dominate. There is some carmel sweetness noted but it's definitely in the background.

Taste: Grapefruit, oily pine, and orange are the first things that jump on my palate. There is a subtle honey flavor that peaks through and then a warming alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, multi-dimensional, and very complex.

Drinkability: Suffers a bit just because I can't see making a session out of it. But a very nice beer.

Tasting notes: I have no other years for comparison and from what I've read, this isn't the best year. As far as I'm concerned, this is a solid IPA and dead-on for the style. I would definitely recommend it and if you have other years to compare it to, consider yourself lucky.

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

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2004

My first time seeing a six pack of this for the season. I was excited to finally pick this beer up. 12 oz brown bottle and served in a goblet.

Reddish orange haze color with a major head on top. Sudsy sticky lacings all over the glass.

Major hop whiffs on the aroma. Smells like a hoppy "west coast " (a la Rogue or Stone) treat. Fruity and hoppy nose.

Sweet maltness up front with flavors of caramel and fruit. Strong hop bitterness. Blends of different hop flavors are making a statement in this beer. Creamy smoothness with just a tad of alcohol warmth.

The best winter seasonal I've had yet this season. At a respectable 6.8 % ABV, this beer is another great Sierra Neveda offering around the holidays.


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

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.
Gorgeous amber color with slightly reddish hues. Two finger head which dissippates within a couple minutes. Fair lacing. Floral nose and very sweet and hoppy. Smooth and rich mouthfeel with decent carbonation. Quite bitter (though in a most pleasant way, it's not an affront to my palate at all) and citrusy with slight hints of apple. All in all, this is a very solid IPA.

Photo of bigbubba
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer has a beautiful reddish amber tint with a nice tan head. The smell is incredible, there is sweetness and flowery hops. The taste starts out mild, then the hops appear. The hoppy taste is great, very well balanced. There is a nice mild hop bitterness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good, I would prefer a bit more body but I can't complain, this is a great beer. The drinkability is excellent. It is so good that I wonder if I can get this in kegs?

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

Deep copper to amber hue, light offwhite head and light lacing on glass. Smell is rich of nutty roasted barley and sweet citrus fruits. Flavor is a solid sweet malt backbone with strong citric hop overtones. Medium body, not too sticky on the palate, crisply carbonated. Very easy to drink, SNCA is always welcome at my house during the holidays.

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

12 oz brown bottle. '2004'

Creamy 1/2" off white head that fades to a whispy sheet after a moment. Condensed lacing with above average strength. Clean and crisp reddish-copper in color.

Lemon, floral hops, and a bit of hop oils. A touch of wheat, but the main aroma is a bright, citrus filled hop nose.

Lemon and citrus hop flavors at first that give way to a huge grainy-hop flavor. The bitterness kicks in almost immediately and last until the pine and citrus filled aftertaste. A mild malt character is present that doesn't really stand a chance against the hop intensity. Filled with a strong hop flavor any hophead would enjoy.

Medium bodied; modest amount of carbonation. Extremely grainy on the palate regardless of the amount of hops used.

This is a hefty IPA given the 6.8% abv and the high hop character. An IPA fit for the winter season, but it's tough to drink this as a session beer. A 'good' IPA IMO that I feel gets a bit more credit than it deserves.

Photo of HochFliegen
3.46/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice deep orange/copper color with a nice frothy head.
Smell was mainly a citrus hop like smell with a slight hint of a malt sweetness to it. Nothing to overwhelming. It was pleasant however.
The taste was good like most Sierra Nevada poducts. Flavor is dominated by the citrus hop like flavors with a nice amount of bitterness that last well into the aftertaste. A nice amount of carbonation as well makes your mouth tingle with joy.

Photo of AndIWantYou
3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I like the burnt orange color (despite my inherent bias that strong beers should be dark) and the head laces nicely. Smell is nothing really special for me, although I may be catching a cold--just smells like any random pale ale to me.

Full bodied with heavy carbonation, the beer feels almost like an electric shock if I let it linger on the tip of my tongue. Bare hint of alcohol note in the palate, but mostly I taste hops and feel a lingering warmth at the back of my throat.

Basically, an inexpensive but pleasurable experience... I love the winter warmer style and I'm so excited that the season has begun again!

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

2004 version: This beer pours an dark amber with an oily foamy off white head. Aroma is floral citrusy hops can't really smell anything else but it smells real good. Taste is a repeat of the citrusy hops, hint of toffeelike malt underneath. Long aftertaste of hops like you were sucking on a hop cone, I don't think it ever goes away but eventually you just stop noticing it. Great drinkability especially for the alcohol content. Just the thing to get in the celebrating mood. A great American style winter warmer IPA.

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

On-Tap @ The Washington House in Sellersville, PA! Fresh keg tapped 3 days ago! This brew is a light red/dark amber colour with a light tan head of foam that lasts and leaves nice lacing as well. The aromas are of fresh piney/citrusy hops and nice bready malts. The taste is hoppy up front, very malty in the middle, and dry and hoppy in the finish. This one really gives you some piney, hop burps! The mouthfeel is medium bodied and the drinkability is pretty awesome as well. A classic.

Photo of Quaffer
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2002 batch. Just purchased within the last week, so there was no aging done on my part.

Appearance: This beer was a slightly hazey, brown-to-copper color. It was not too light or too dark. The light tan head rose up huge (probably due to my clumsy, neanderthal-like pour) and sank down slowly, becoming rocky as it did so. There was a thin layer that persisted the entire drink. This beer left a huge amount of lace. Sometimes there were even big ol' chunks of head stuck to the sides of the glass. Good stuff.

Smell: Hops, hops, and more hops! Right after the pour, that was all I could detect in the aroma. After the beer settled down, I could pick out mild citrus notes and some caramel and malt.

Mouthfeel: This brew was much smoother than I expected. It had a big, full feel that was almost silky. This could also be partially attributed to my initial clumsiness on pouring, however.

Taste: Hop, hops, and more hops! (Deja vu, eh?) This beer had a huge hop flavor that was terrific. There were also notes of citrus and flowers, though those can be attributed to the hops as well. Some malt flavors were present, but there had to be much more than I noticed to balance out this beer. Overall, very refreshing and delicious.

As a hop head, I loved this beer. The balance might be swung to the hoppy side in this brew, but it does not make the beer harsh or unpleasant. It is almost like the malt/hops ratio is just on the edge of being *too* hoppy.

UPDATE, 08/05/2003

After a number of months in the bottle, this beer has mellowed somewhat. The hops has lost some of its edge and the brew has become more malty, gaining more caramel tones and a very noticeable butter component. This hasn't happended with all bottles, though. (I've burned through about 5 cases of the 2002 release.) Some are still pretty damn hoppy. Still, an absolutely wonderful beer. My supply for the year is almost exhausted, so I am eagerly anticipating the 2003 release.

UPDATE, 11/10/2004

The 2003 release of this beer was great, and the newly arrived 2004 is spectacular. I have to bump my ratings for this beer even higher this year. This is the most consistently beautiful, and almost perfect, beer that I have ever had. To have something of this high caliber in large quantities at a reasonable price is truly amazing.

Appearance wise, I've decided that this beer is perfect. The color, the light haze, the beautiful sticky head, and the incredible amounts of lace that are left behind make this beer look like it should be on the cover of every beer related publication ever produced.

I've also decided that the flavor is perfect also. Well, at least for me it is.

Drinkabily will also get bumped to a five because this is my staple beer when it is available. I will put away cases of this stuff and still yearn for more. When it is gone, I am immediately anticipating next years release.

This has to beer my favorite beer of all time.

Photo of oggg
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First, I think this was smoother on tap.

This beer pours a nice orange brown with a surprisingly nice thick lasting head. Clear.

Strong and beautiful floral hop aroma. Some citrus and pine.

Oooh, this beer has a surprisingly brutal hop bitterness up front. The bitterness fades quickly and allows the citrus and pine to come out. Harsh alcohol crashes the party in the middle. Finish still is fairly dry.

Overall: I could buy this beer and just keep it around for sniffing. The flavor is a bit unbalanced and rough.

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

2004 release, enjoyed on 11/08/04

Pours a deep chesnut with a tall, two-finger thick, light-tan colored head that receeded to open up in the middle, and leave itself clinging to the sides of the glass. Strong smell of hops instantly floods the nose, while a slight spicy aroma hangs around the edges.

As expected, hops overwhelm the tastebuds right away, letting a slight malty-sweetness to follow up. Hop bitterness isn't overwhelming, but is strong and solid here, and the carbonation is just perfect. While it is pretty smooth going down, it leaves a bit of an oily feel in the mouth I hadn't noticed from other IPAs, which is the only thing I don't like about this brew.

I hear so much about this beer (as well as SN's Bigfoot), and I've finally gotten to taste it. It does not disappoint. I regret only picking up a sixer now.

Photo of heidelbeerg
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Found this beer on tap at the Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe. Wow. What a brew ! Beautiful amber/copper color with a rich creamy off white head. Smell is mostly hops and citrus. Very nice. The taste was unbelievable. Very hoppy with a nice fruity flavor. The fruitiness reminds me of a late harvest white wine without being sweet. Did I mention very hoppy ? The mouth feel was just about perfect. The carbonation is just right. Drinkability is dangerously high. If I can find a case of this stuff I will certainly buy it.

Photo of carln26
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep copper color, very clear with a light cream colored head. Thick and rich with a delicate lace that settled on the rim of the glass immediately after the pour. The nose has a hint of floral hops, backed by a delicate malt aroma with just a hint of spice. The taste has a nice balance of hop and malt backed by some spice character. It has a medium mouth feel . Very drinkable. I now see what all of the fuss is about.

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

Finally got to get mine. Pours a ruby amber color with a nice off white head stays a while and laces nicely. Aroma is malt lots of hops, floral and ctirus combined some fruity aromas coming from citrus hops? or somewhere else like a big gumby bear of hops just smells juicey. Tastes of malt to start then hops lots of hops dominating this beer grapefruity bitter. Starts out lightly sweet with floral hop flavors blending with the sweetness then the bitter grapefruit comes up with carbonation leading the way and announces itself all else falls away to bitterness for a while then it fades some and sweetness is tasted again as it finishes. This beer leaves a nice hop resin coating on your tounge to remind you its time for another drink. Mouthfeel is a good solid meium drinkability is also good nice hop strong regular IPA very good but not quite a masterpiece. After finally getting to taste some I can see why people talk of cellaring it. I bet after a year in my cool basement it will have much more to offer then just hops.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 9,370 ratings.