Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

3,292 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,292
Hads: 9,408
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 327
Gots: 1,327 | 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: 3,292 | Hads: 9,408
Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Celebration 2003 poured with a small rough light tan head, and left nice fine lacing. The color was a very beautiful molten and glowing copper. The smell was mellow yet quite complex, with a lovely floral hop bouquet and a sublte malty notes. The taste was rich and delicious, with a superb whole grain malt backbone and perfectly matched assertive bitter finish. The beer felt amazingly full and velvety. This beer is quite an accomplishment. It is rich, dimensional, and hoppy, has a mouthfeel of a more expensive big beer, and yet costs the same as the other "standard" microbrews. A winner!

 594 characters

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

12oz. Bottle: This is a winter beer. It pours quite dark, with a tinge of red to it. The aroma is quite good, with aromas of citrus hops, malts, spices, floral notes, and quite possible some others. There is a full, rich taste with quite a nice hop kick to it. A very well balanced beer. Very, very good!!

 305 characters

Photo of xgrigorix
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce brown twist cap bottle - 2003 edition.

Bright copper hue, clear, with slow moving carbonation. Medium sized bubbles. Rocky, beige coloured head retains well, & leaves a thin sheet of lace behind.

Big, robust, hop loaded nose. Scents of pine, orange, & caramel.

A quick hop attack, gives way to a big round caramel powered malt flavour. Some toasted flavours make it a little more interesting. A sharp bitter whack heralds in orange & pine, with the pine flavour really popping after the swallow. Dry finish, medium body, easy carbonation. A winter classic.

 578 characters

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

Very nice ruby body with a pure white head, rich carbonation and a cozy christmas like scenery on the label.
Smell is clearly dominated by hops and spices along with some subtle bread and grain like aromas.
Taste is much like the smell, some faint malt flavors can be detected if you look for them. There is more spice in the flavor than in the nose and a nice lingering hoppy aftertaste.
Feels full and sturdy but doesn't leave any slickness in your mouth.
Pretty good drinkability.

I've only had a few IPAs but this is by far the hoppiest of them all and doesn't seem consistent with the rest which I assume represent the style. So I guess this brew doesn't live up to the style as much as others, however is does taste pretty good so I'll let style be style and judge based on how I like it anyway.


 831 characters

Photo of LuckySevens82
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now, I must preface this by saying that I am not a huge fan of IPAs then again here in FL we don't get to see many of the good ones (or at least I have yet to find one), nevertheless, knowing this, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and I picked up a 6 of the 2003 edition of this ale.

I can honestly say that I am quite impressed. From the initial pour, I could tell by the honey color and off-white head that I was in for a treat. The aroma, of citrus, hops and what to me smells like thyme, is very warming and just begs you to drink it.

First taste...Wow, this isn't what I was expecting, it's got the punch that most other IPAs that I've tasted have, but this one is balanced with a smooth texture and the flavor is amazing.

Great Beer.

 761 characters

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

I think the thing that makes this IPA so wonderful is that it doesn’t taste like other IPA. No it doesn’t have a high hop profile or a strong alcohol percentage, which I’m used to. The beauty of this beer lies in the subtle yet complex flavor, a symphony of flavors from hops, herbs, spice to fruit. This beer has intoxicating diction, so that every ingredient complements another ingredient. Don’t read this review, rather go and try some (and buy some to age).

 466 characters

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

Wow. Just had the 2003 vintage. I am not an IPA person, but this was really deserving of its reputation. Let me just say it is hoppy without being overwhelming. And that really boosted its drinkability for me. The taste has more nuance than that, but what can I say? Try it for yourself. I would be completely shocked if you were disappointed.

 343 characters

Photo of BEERBOY13323
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The holiday season offers some of the best seasonal beers. However, hands down Sierra Nevada has one of the best seasonal brews. I buy it by the case because it sells so fast in my area. I cannot wait for my local beer store to get their Bigfoot ale in as well. If you are looking for a good seasonal brew I reccomend the celebration ale.

 338 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12-21-03 Cranberry red colored, with an off white head. Smells of spice, fruit, and hops. Has a very nice spiced flavor, which peaks with a big shot of hops. This is a very tasty beer, it is up there with two hearted ale as my favorite. I definitely like it served at cellar temperature, a lot more flavor.

Additional Comments 11-13-04: The hops are smoothed over a lot, big initial hop kick, but that flavor does not leave you with a gigantic hop bitter aftertaste. Unique and delicious. I think I appreciate it more after a year apart.

 540 characters

Photo of Wildman
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap @Little Brothers: This beer was a reddish brown color and formed a small off white foamy head that left some nice circular lace. There was a medium amount of carbonation present. An aroma of malt, hops and citrus. A flavor of malt and strong presence of hops. A bit of a citrus aspect with a touch of spice. A bit of a bitter finish. A slightly different animal on tap in the 2003 version as compared to 2002, which I did not have the advantage of having on tap.

 469 characters

Photo of PatandDavid
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was the 2003 tap version...while still great, I am thinking that this would have been a bit smoother and the flavors a bit more meshed if I was drinking say a year-old version, but hey, here we go: Medium clear amber. Nice frothy head when served, but it settled down after awhile. Aromo was of a pine forest. Taste was of a meeting between the malt and the hops, with hops making it just slightly rough. Again, while drinking this, I thought, this is pretty good, but oh, it would much more enjoyable if aged! For a tap beer though, not bad, a bit rough and not really as smooth as it could be. pat

 604 characters

Photo of CRJMellor
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz. bottle of the 2003 version reviewed

Pours a medium copper color with a huge thick white head. Aroma has very oily and citrusy hop profile with a cetain amount of spice. Taste is a classic mixof malt, hop spiciness and bitterness. Great mouthfeel as this beer slides down your gullet after having a party with your taste buds.

I've been away from Sierra Nevada for too long. I haven't had one for probably 10 years and been way too long. This is truly a great beer. To me its almost an Imperial IPA with all the hop to it. Amazingly quaffable beer and I can only dream and imagine how good this would be on draught.

 626 characters

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

The beer poured pale amber with a large lingering white head. The aroma is heavely with American hops and sweet malt. The flavor is bitterness up front then large American hop flavor and a dry slightly bitter finish. The malt is substantial enough to not allow the hops to overpower the brew. The body is medium and the drinkability is very good.

2003 vintage in a stubbie twisty.

 383 characters

Photo of Dubblebock
3.41/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I finally managed to get my hands on a sixer of this a couple of weeks ago. This was my first stab at the Celebration Ale, and I dropped $7.99 for the opportunity to try it. Interestingly enough, I had to slowly drink my way through almost the entire six-pack (I have one left) before I could get a handle on this beer. My initial impression was that it was badly out of whack. It seemed extremely unbalanced and overly harsh at first, but I began to understand the beer a little better after I had sampled it a few more times.

It's a confusing holiday brew for those who have never tried it before. It's not your traditional spiced Christmas ale. No, it's an IPA, and a big one to boot. Celebration really throws you when you first try it.

It pours great, with a big, foamy head and a slight citrus nose. It's a dark amber color in the mug, and it just looks fantastic.

The initial taste is mellow, but the hop bitters really kick in on the middle and back of the tongue. Potent, to say the least. I was really taken aback on my first try at this beer. I was not expecting the high level of bitterness at all. No malt character to speak of, this one is all hops. It felt like Santa had come down my chimney and punched me right in the mouth. POW! Merry effin' Christmas, you BA wannabe!! I felt betrayed. Celebration, indeed!

But, I couldn't abandon it. I had to keep after it, had to master it. So I tried it again, this time figuring that I knew a little more about what to expect. Better on the second try. Still bitter, but not so bad. Tried one straight from the bottle. Better yet. Actually began to get a little bit of malty warmth out of it. By the fouth one, I was ok with it and actually started to really enjoy it. I felt like the bruise that Santa had given me had healed a little, and a little bit of the ol' Celebration spirit was beginning to kick in.

Good mouthfeel, fair carbonation. Not something my palate would say is highly drinkable, but one or two at a sitting would be cool. I'll have a go at it again next year now that I know more about the beer. If you're into strong India Pale Ales, this one is for you. Don't expect much more than a hop explosion, but if that's what you like, you're in for a treat.

 2,247 characters

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

Rich full copper with a decent blush of red. Very fine 1" beige head settles slowly to a 1/4" cap and stays, leaving nice lacing.

Nose is citric stemmy/leafy/resiny hops. Some rich bready malt pokes through as does a touch of caramel.

Medium-bodied in the mouth with some brown bread and toffee. Good hop flavor. Bit thin towards the finish when the bitterness really takes over. The bitterness is significant but very well-mannered.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery, but a higher level of carbonation would accentuate the hops too much. A pleasure to drink.

2003 Edition.

 577 characters

Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured a golden copper color with a frothy white head. The smell was citrusy and hoppy. As was the taste. I noticed lots of grapefruit along with some floral hops. But the malt backbone kept the hops in check, somewhat. This was still quite hoppy but not extremely bitter. Another winner from Sierra Nevada.

 316 characters

Photo of counselor
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another great offering from SN. This beer poured the color of the mosquito fossil amber cane the old guy had in Jurrasic Park. At first it smelled crisp and clean like a cold winter morning, but then the super dry hop smell kicked in to let you know what was ahead. Like the SN Pale Ale, this beer is well balanced with smooth malt flavors across the tounge, with cirtus dry hops to balance out the beer. Molasses and tannin flavors that balance out nicely. A really nice beer that carries on SN's west coast brewing tradition

 526 characters

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

What a treat to enjoy a bottle of this masterpiece while sitting in Moscow. Thanks to a colleague who had delivered this and several other holiday brews. Now, if only I could get the Russians to copy this sucker!

Pours a nice cloudy rich copper color under an off white two-fingered head with body and staying power. Nice lace rings linger down the glass. There's lots of fresh sweet hops in the nose, almost like a carnation it's so sweet and flowery. The mouth is very prickly and fairly light. The taste is scrumptious - lots of sweetly bitter hops, with what almost seems like a bit of apple juice somewhere in the back to add balance. The finish is all bitter, leaving a marvellously spicy aftertaste. This was the last beer I had before going to bed last night, and the aftertaste was so good I didn't want to brush my teeth and lose it! Yum!

 851 characters

Photo of Redrover
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz “mid-range” brown bottle.

Beer pours a wonderful burnished copper with a massive and thick tan head.

Wow, what an aroma! You can smell the hops from about 2 feet away. Lovely aroma, all citrus, pine and floral.

Taste is rock solid. Plenty of stringent hop bite.. But this not a one trick pony. You get some underlying fruit/bread taste, but it is always backed by that great hop taste. Definite pine taste as well. The taste stays solid as the beer warms.

Soft creamy tasty mouthfeel with perfectly calibrated carbonation. Easy to drink a lot of these big boys.

What a wonderful beer!!

 608 characters

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

Truely a beer for the hophead, but maybe a let down for anyone expecting a spiced winter ale. This is without a doubt, an IPA. Amber in color with an off-white head that diminishes into a thin lace. Hop character is piney with a bit of grapefruit. A caremel malt flavor is almost completely hidden in the hoppy bitterness. Yes the winter is a miserable time of year, but this makes me look forward to it.

 404 characters

Photo of ecoboy
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Here's the perfect example of a numerical-rating-by-style shortcoming. Overall, this is a wonderful, drinkable brew. But I feel it is not going to please someone looking for a traditional winter ale. There should be a more obvious IPA notation on the label (akin to Geary's Winter also being an IPA, while the HSA is the true "seasonal") which is more about the snow and hunkering down by the fire.

Even in my notes (where I reviewed Celebration as a Christmas strong ale/winter warmer [6.8% is warm enough for me, thanks]) I wrote the "winter for IPA lovers."

Amber hued in the center of the glass with golden edges. Big hop whack in the aroma. Big hop infusion in the flavor. Little malt presence, and a slight touch of sour.

Three of 'em will make you love any Sandra Bullock movie.

 795 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 - This deep copper/amber IPA with a solid beige head is a joy to behold. The lace is webby and clumpy in spots.
The aroma is outstanding! Fresh floral and citrusy hops dominate. The faint smell of spruce, sweet malt, fruit and alcohol are present.
While this is an amply malted brew, with some caramel and herbal qualities, the focus here is on the hops. Sharp-edged grapefruit bitterness and piney esters are in abundance. A light fruity background and a bit of metallic tang, along with some noticeable warming alcohol, make for a very flavorful ale, without resorting to an overwhelming quantity of alcohol. Celebration Ale will be one of the Christmas Eve offerings at my home this year.

 698 characters

Photo of Beaver13
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The Celebration poured a copper-amber color with a nice thick, creamy head with fine bubbles that retained to the bitter end. Very nice smelling with a nice hop and spiciness balance with some floral tones. Interesting taste - medium to full bodied with a spicy, slightly sweet, initial taste with some subtle malt and fruitiness. Then come the hops! A very hoppy finish, a little too bitter for me. Overall, the Celebration is a very interesting beer. The hoppy, bitter finish and aftertaste is a little too overwhelming for me and detracts from the taste and drinkability of the beer.

 586 characters

Photo of pezoids
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This poured out a very clear and bright orange amber color with a perfect head of dense foam. Wow, this is an intensely flavorful beer. With an aroma full of sweet flowery hops and lemon grass. Nice tasting malt body with a strong lingering bitterness. Very easy to drink and very enjoyable.

 291 characters

Photo of waughbrew
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful orange with red highlights. Large creamy lasting head, thick lacing. Deep, rich American hop aroma, lemon juicy, a touch harsh. Flavor is peppered bread, some pine-sol, lemon rind, buttered biscuit, bitter. Nice body, not overly thick, healthy carbonation but not prickly.

Great brew, very solid. Like many other BAs, I look forward to this each year.

 364 characters

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,292 ratings.