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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,410 Reviews
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Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Fresh Hop Ale; no spices.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-02-2001

User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,410 | Ratings: 9,990
Photo of Erix
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From bottle to pint glass
Appearance: A moderately vigorous pour yielded a substantial, lasting, pale khaki head. The beer itself looks allright, and is a reddish gold, but there is rather a lot of sediment in there.
Smell: Citrusy hops here, with sweet malt to back it up. Great aroma to this beer.
Taste: Hops are of course the most assertive flavor here, hitting you right up front. Bitter grapefruit primarily, and a little bit of oak in there too, towards the end. The malt is present, and does a good job of providing some depth and balance to the hops, but they dont really try to compete. Bitterness stays for a while after you've finished each sip. Delicious.
Mouthfeel: Full and oily, but the sharpness of the carbonation seems to power the oil away. Actually rather refreshing.
Drinkability: I don't think that I could ever tire of this beer. Truly fantastic, and it leaves me wanting another.

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Photo of swamiswamu
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours with a rich, reddish hue and one inch head that doesn't quickly dissapate. In other words, it is a beautiful beer. The smell is dominated by hops and illicits a piney reaction. Here comes the hops. This is a highly hop dominated beer, but at the same time it is balanced. It has a malt finish that raises its mouthfeel. I could drink it all night.

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Photo of mynie
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I opened my first Celebration of the season and teared up, like some kind of girl. This beer is, easily, the best part of early winter. Every year it's like welcoming an old friend back into my life. And while it's pretty sad to refer to a beer as an old friend, it would be a lie to deny doing it. I'm honest, man. Beer matters a lot. And few, maybe none, matter as much as Celebration.

This was the first aggressively citrusy hoppy beer I ever had. It was one of--maybe THE--first aggressively citrusy hoppy beers. And it's still perfect. Right now, the best hoppy beers (like Kern River or Heady) taste like Snickers bars. This is not that intense. But it's still great enough to have invented an entire style, and you have no right to call yourself a BA if you don't give it its due.

Very red, pretty color. Excellent head that refuses to die. Great lacing.

It smells like sweet caramel and hops. There's a bit of a spicy smell that falls somewhere between cloves and nutmeg.

Tastes like hops upfront with warmer spices, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, pumpkin pie. More hops in the back, sweeter than the front, but still bitter, and with more spice. The aftertaste is bitter hops with sour leanings, kind of like an orange rind dipped in cloves.

What can I say? This beer lives up to the hype. Too bad the only store near me fucking gouges on the price ($11.00 for a sixer!!!) or I'd probably buy a case to enjoy until next year.

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Photo of merlin48
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours into the glass a magnificent appearance. Cherry amber, a thick light beige colored head, and lots of lacing. Hoppy aroma with some vague spicing. Dry on the tongue. This is a very interesting IPA. Hops cover up any malt to my taste. Very crisp finish makes for a most drinkable winter style ale.Sierra Nevada has brewed a fine one here

Winter 2004 edition: Just about a perfect pour, with an actively carbonated, bronze amber body topped by a one finger offwhite head that hangs around like a new kitten that's starved for attention. Massive sheet and patch lace decorate the glass.
Aroma has an ideal balance of caramel and toffee malt and grapefruit and orange citrusy hops.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with perfect carbonation.
Taste mirrors the aroma, with an ideal blend of citrusy, westcoast hops and caramel and toffee malts. The hops lend a touch of wintry pine cone, as well. Crisp on the finish, with a nice hoppy aftertaste. An American IPA that purrs on all cylinders.
Drinkability: I know some people that are cellaring this one until 2005, and beyond. Having enjoyed a couple bottles of the 04, I doubt that I could avoid the temptation of making nightly visits to the cellar.

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Photo of beertaster13
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Honey clear out the garage Celebration is out again, this is the stock up the house beer. I wish they sold this year round so I don't have to find spots around the house to shelf it. Pours a nice amber with golden streaks, the head is white with tan streaks. The smell is of sweet caramel and nutmeg malts with sweet sour hoppy citrus. The combo of smells is outrageous. The taste is indescribable, you can only taste it yourself, right in the middle of barleywine and IPA. A smooth robust will warm you up during the holidays but also refresh in the summer months. Solid.

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Photo of Truh
3.03/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Gave thanks to various deities with this one on 12/4/2004. 16-oz. angled shaker pour at the Sunset.

Initial head of ½ inch fluff that is creamy in appearance with some larger stuff going on at the outer edges. Celebratory hop front on nose with just a jack of candy cane sweetness flitting about aimlessly in the eaves. Gaudschalk frizziness of hop that almost stings on the tongue and back of throat and simply engulfs any washing holiday spices that I think must be hidden in there, somewhere. Really seems like this could do with some more mellowing; an oddly low-tide mud flat finishing to the pour brings the party down to a murmur for me.

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Photo of claytri
2.31/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The ale poured a beautiful bronze with a georgeous rocky white head. The aroma was essentially of hops very floral. The taste was really pretty one dimensional it was sharp and hoppy and nothing else. The body was medium dry finish. This beer was a real disappointment. I was expecting something complex and maybe spicy instead I got nothing but hops. It was also very unpleasant to drink with chilli.

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Photo of BrewMaster
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: 2004, Poured from a 12 oz bottle. Color is golden amber with an off white head. It has a nice fluggy head with great retention and lacing on the side of the glass as the beer is consumed.

Smell: Sweet hoppy floral nose. I had no idea this was supposed to be an IPA, but as soon as I smell it, it was clear that this was an IPA in very true California style.

Taste: Very sweet with a clean hoppy flavor up front. Notes of cinnamon, clove, fruity esters, and a hop bitterness lingering at the end.

Mouthfeel: It's medium bodied and smooth on the palate without any uncomfortable stickiness.

Drinkability: Easily one of the best Christmas releases I've had. I will gladly enjoy this again.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After my unpleasant experience with Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Ale, I've been reluctant to get back on their horse for quite a while. However, my friend the bartender :) and fellow BeerAdvocate suggested this and highly recommended it. Well, why not?

Pulled (by hand) a beautiful dark golden honey colored brew with a big, creamy, fluffy tan head and wonderful lace.
Smell is mostly hops with undefineable fruit, spices and malt all in the background. Well, an IPA is expected to be heavy on the hops.
Taste is, of course, hoppy with spice, malt, fruit, bread and alcohol also showing up for the party.
Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, very unexpected and welcomed. Warms the throat all the way down.
Drinkability is good. A nice brew especially on a cool Florida winters' night. All things considered, I'll be riding the Sierra Nevada horses a little more often now. I guess Bigfoot was just an ornery old mule.

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

Gorgeous amber with a massive, fluffy head that looks like egg-whites beaten to stiff peaks. Smell is practically all hops... first some grapefruit/citrus aromas and then lots and lots of spruce. Just a hint of honey in there. Tastes exactly how it smells. Spruce flavors dominate, a bit of citrus, and an extremely mouth-drying, extremely bitter finish. Mouth is smooth and slightly creamy with light carbonation. One for the hop heads.

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Photo of blitz134
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my all-time fav session beer. Too bad it only comes out in the winter. It isn't quite a winter brew in the typical sense, but its mighty tasty none the less. Its about time I got around to reviewing this one.

Pours a redish, caramel color with about a one finger off white head which disappears into a slight coating on the surface. Aroma is a very aromatic blend of flowery hops. Just from the smell one can tell this is going to be a hoppy brew. Taste is very sharp and pungent. The immediate hit of hops is very pleasing, and quite balanced in flavor. I don't pick up much of any one hop in this beer, but there is an overall piney flavor. I think the carbonation really helps how sharp this beer comes off. Mouth feel is a little above average, a bit thin but the flavor still lingers for a bit.

Drinkability is what this beer is about. The hoppiness doesn't overpower at all. Like I said above...my all-time fav for a great session brew.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

2004 bottle.at 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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?

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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.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,410 ratings.