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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.

3,291 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,291
Hads: 9,408
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 19.76%
Wants: 328
Gots: 1,329 | 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: 3,291 | Hads: 9,408
Photo of Stingray5
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Celebration Ale, where have you been all my life? Somehow this ale has flown under my radar, until now. It was worth the wait. Orange hues with a fluffy white head. Very clear and neat. Aromas billow from the glass, with fresh pine hops and malt undertones. Taste is oh so fresh - supreme balance of malt and mega hops. Superb. Fresh hop leaf finish.

Until now, I'd had no idea this brew even existed. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Had it on tap. Even better. Fresher, hoppier, tastier. This has quickly become one of my top beers.

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Photo of DagFishHead
4.79/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fall 2003 release.
Appearance: Gorgeous crystal-clear copper pour. Substantial, 1/4" frothy, off-white head with sibstantial lace.
Smell: Dry floral hops... lots of 'em... the SN of SN hops. This is exactly what an IPA should smell like. The malt foundation does poke through if you're patient. Superb.
Taste: Hop oils and carbonation grab your tongue and give it a good old-fashioned tingling. Toasted malt fills in behind before the hops return with a vengence to finish 'er of with a dry floral flourish. Perfect IPA imbalance.
Mouthfeel: Oily hops, decent malt body, carbonation just slightly heavy.
Drinkability: Grab a case or two and get ready for snow. Yum.

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

2003 Vintage: Poured a clear, deep amber in color. Lots of bubbles rising up from the bottom. Tight layer of white lace atop the beer. Good quality lacing of the glass. Aromas are floral/citrus, with some delicate sweetness peeking through. Still the same hefty dose of hoppy bitterness that really dominates. A little bit of balancing by the malt. Spicy notes also present. Very bitter at the end, with a mouth-puckering dryness. A touch on the harsh side, I'm hoping some aging will mellow this out. A very good seasonal that gets better with age.

2002 Vintage: When my friend told of this offering, I ran out to my local Total Wine and picked up a few 6-packs. Wow! I was not disappointed. Pouring a lovely copper color with a hoppy blast at the beginning, it offered exquisite mouthfeel and citrusy aroma and also finished with a strong hoppy influence.

Get some if you can. You'll not be disappointed.

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

This is for the 2003 release. pretty much the same as far as appearance, color and head go. But the aromas and taste are definately different. The main noticable difference this year is in the hops. There is a more grassy straw aroma and taste. Its tart and tasty. Not too sweet and not to bitter. Though it definately is a bitter beer. Once again SN comes up with another great seasonal.

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

The beer that i've been tying to find up here for a week or so. Poured a medium head, receding slowly. The first taste was of hops and then spices as is typical of the season. The carbonation that i felt at first was replaced by a smooth finish. a very good seasonal.

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

2003 edition. Ahh, first holiday beer of the year. Dark amber, sticky head with good retention. Smell is hops, hops, hops, hops, and hops. Piney, sprucy strong hops. Touch of malt at the beginning and then painful Xmas tree hops flood the palate and leave a lasting intense bitterness. Not enough balance here. There seems to be a touch of clove or nutmeg or cinnamon in here. Pretty tasty but I would have liked to have these holiday spices have more presence, and overall this one isn't balanced for my taste.

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Photo of CSimon
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 in a bottle.

Year after year, Celebration nails it.

Beautiful rich amber-brown color. Pours a nice full head for an IPA.

There is grapefruit. Hops. But, unlike lots of great IPAs, this has some malt for balance. I tend to like the big extreme hoppy IPAs. But, I have a real apprecaition for the way that Celebraton has some malt to tame the hops. In fact, my brother, who isn't a huge beer fan, and generally prefers blanced beers, enjoys Celebration. A real oddity in that this beer has appeal to beer-drinkers of all types.

The brewer from Bell's was at The Brickskeller a few weeks ago singing the praises of Sierra Nevada's consistency. He has a point. Celebration never disappoints.

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

Real nice color with a substantial tan head. Nose of carmal and hops. Mouthfeel is really smooth with a slick and expanding carbonation around the tounge. Taste is great, real hop bang with pine and grapefruit characteristics and a nice lingering hop head bite, just like you would expect from a West Coast brew. Has some real good sweet, caramel and lightly toasted notes on the malt side. Overall a big delicious IPA.

EDIT: 11-2010
same great IPA, very spicy hop notes and very green grassy fresh hop nose and taste. like throwing in a hop dip straight from the vine, nice and oily

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

2003 model

As compared to an aged version of last year's model (reviewed on 07/23/03), the fresh Celebration is much more highly hopped, both in nose and in the taste, with a big, citric hop bite and huge lingering bitterness. Tastes very green, and I definitely prefer the mellowed version. Fresh it's not as balanced, but certainly a great IPA. Slightly downgraded in the flavor department.

2002 model. Just purchased today; unsure of storage conditions.


Appearance: Ruby-chestnut body with a big, soft, fluffy, rocky head. Slowly settled into a thin cap, lacing like a beast.

Smell: Wow. Potent hop aroma with a noticeable malt background. Slightly spicy, but in a very natural way. Barely noticeable alcohol presence. Hops definitely take the lead, with soft citrus fruit (orange peel?) dominating.

Taste: Incredibly balanced. Possibly the most balanced "big" IPA I've ever had. Reminiscent of an even better version of Ipswich's IPA, with regards to the malt/hops balance. Almost sweet at first, with a spiciness I just can't place. The hops are subdued and balanced, but still leafy and fresh. Finishes nicely, very smooth and round. Creamy mouth, and very full. Very satisfying, but I still want more!

Notes: Excellent, excellent beer. I can't wait to taste this along with next year's version, as I've never had a truly fresh bottle. Highly recommended.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.08/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2002 On Tap:This beer's appearance was a small sized ivory head that was creamy and smooth and contained fine-small sized bubbles that was mostly lasting.The body was uncarbonated and clear with a reddish hue.The nose was hoppy and malty with a very bitter and hoppy flavor.The mouthfeel was fairly smooth and somewhat tingly and it was medium bodied.There was a fair amount of lacing with this beer.I am not a hop head by any means so this one tasted very hoppy and bitter to me.

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Photo of PSUDREW
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 edition:

Poured out that amber hue, some head retention, lots and lots of lace. Once in your mouth, it's lighter body is somewhat deceptive of it's real power. Powerful hop prescenes will smack you in the face (in a good way), and has some nice sweet and spice to it going down, smoothly finished off with a small bite. Seasonals- YAY!

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

2003 Vintage. Just in time for freezing nights in NY.
Classic red amber color, comforting floral aroma with pine forest and vanilla notes.
Flavor is sugar coated tangerines in a doughy blanket. As usual, great balance of gritty malt and rough edged hop bite.
Finish is all about lingering resinous piney hop and a trickle of alcohol burn. Mouth feel is a bit light and dry - medium body is there, but the hops havent mellowed yet. Bottles need a few weeks/ months to reach peak IMHO.
IPA, Winter warmer, whatever you want to call it, SNCA is to me, one of the best large production beers available. A valid reason to look forward to Winter.

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

The 2003 edition and how happy am I. Beautifully constructed (again) with a combination of I assume those biscuity english and caramel malts and a good hit of cascade hops along with a few other varieties for good measure. Just outstanding and will need to go get another sixer soon. Makes winter a lot more tolerable.

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

Pours a nice reddish brown with a nice long lasting head that laces beautifully down the glass.

Smell is citrusy grapfruity hops with foresty spice and pine thrown in the background

Taste Yumm-- I love this stuff.. Nice assertive hoppyness with enough of a malty backbone to make it interesting and give it a hint of spice. This years might be a bit rough on the hops, but i am hoping that that will mellow and balance a bit more.

Mouthfeel, nice good carbonation, very drying on the finish. It will make someone not used to hops pucker

Drinkability-- Can drink it all night, I never get tired of drinking this beer, the only thing that keeps drinkablity from a 5 is that the ABV is 6.8 so a few to many and the Celebration will end with a fall.
There is little doubt why this is always one of the more anticipated arrivals every fall

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

My 2003 six-pack. Can't beleive I have waited two weeks to actually try it...

Pours a hazy dark copper with a creamy lacy white head. Smells hoppy. Bitter and spicy.

Taste is dominated by assertive hops with a sour spicy (nutmeg flavors among others) malt. medium bodied but feels bigger than that. Smooth and drinkable. One of my favorite winter seasonals, never disappoints.

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Photo of Gavage
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Just got my first 2003 six pack, and I was in heaven. Poured a amber / orange color with a thick bubbly head that remained through most of the drink. Lacing was beautiful. Aroma sported strong hops, with a sweet / sour sensation. The taste is great - strong hops with a nice balance of sweet malt. Some citrus seems to arrive on the tongue with the bitterness after swallowing. The carbonation level is perfect, giving some crispness to the mouthfeel. Alcohol level is barely detectable. One of the most drinkable beers I know, as several can be consumed in an afternoon or evening.

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Photo of Jarod
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

YEAR OF 2002
12 oz bottle

This beer poured a golden/orange/brown color that at first pour was slightly cloudy but as it neared the end on the bottle because “chunky”, but that is OK by me. It was well carbonated. It produced a thick off white creamy head that was the consistency of a marshmallow, thick and semi-lasting, but soon fell to a small skim on the surface and a thick ring on the edges. Some lace was present, in sheet form. The aromas that came from the glass were surprisingly subtle, but complex as it warmed. Smells of fresh floral hops, spices, some fruits (plums, a bite from a fresh cut pineapple, and some citrus), rich malts came through in the middle to end of the whiff and finished with a fresh cut pine tree aroma. Well balanced in the aroma department once it sat and warmed. The flavors were more complex then the aromas and again became more pronounced as the temp. rose a few degrees. Floral hops first hit my nose with a fresh piney aroma, then a rich and roasted malt seemed to emerge as well as fresh and dark fruits (plums, apricots), a citrus bite (lemon rinds and pineapples) soon took over as it entered the back of my throat then a dry bark like flavor finished the taste off. The aftertaste was mainly of hops and flowers, with hints of bark, not long lasting but present when I exhaled. The body was medium. A smooth and creamy beer that was well balanced in flavors and aromas, and a pleasure to drink. It was not overly hopped, like I thought it would have been, because I believe the ageing did it well. This beer was fairly decent and refreshing when served cold, but when it warmed it became an incredible beer experience that was well balanced in all aspects. I am currently aging another bottle of 02’ for the next year or so.

And as far as the 6.8% ABV, you would never know it was even there, it was that well hidden with all the flavors.

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Photo of beergeek279
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was golden, with a thick, creamy head. The smell was very lightly hoppy. The taste wasn't the overwhelming hop boutique I expected. Rather than the citrus taste I'm used to, the hop taste was rather dry...almost like a dry hopping. Mouthfeel was smooth. As for drinkability, could have a few more.

I just wasn't as overwhelmed by this beer as most people seemed to be. It's not bad in any way, it's just not up there with my favorite IPAs (HopDevil, Ruination, etc.). Still, I'd probably give it another try.

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

Served on tap at Dr. Dremo's.

Appearance: Clear light amber colored liquid with an offwhite head, quite frothy. Head quickly dissipates to a film after a short time and leaves a wonderful bit of IPA-typical lacing.

Smell: Thick and juicy piney hops balanced by robust grapefruit citrus aromas. Malt makes an appearance. Overall, great balance.

Taste: A salty bitter taste initially. Hops give way to some decent malt flavors. Grapefruit notes throughout.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body, vaguely creamy with a modicum of astringency from all the hoppy goodness.

Drinkability: An excellent offering. SN Celebration is basically SNPA on steroids. A beer worth wishing the onset of winter for.

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

Poured a reddish amber, what I would call a beautiful iridiscent color. Had a bubbly pocky foam falling to a thin and sudsy head, and not always much lace. A wonderful color, though.

Smelled of sweet grapefruit with spikes of pine attached to it, like a syrupy hop juice. Great caramel malt in the background. Overall, for me this beer had the presence of when you're cooking a good piece food and it starts releasing its fresh essentials oils - that's what the wonderful hop presence smelled like. Always in front of a setting sun of rosy waves.

Taste was of a delectable bitterness: juicy, tart, cutting, and with abundantly high-grade freshness, it was all propped up on a rosy juice flavor. Had some lemon flavors right before the finish, like biting into a wonderfully balanced hop juice. The beer settled well with opening and my tastebuds adjusting to the bitterness. After getting used to this beer I noticed a masterful amber ale flavored malt, bordering on rosy but made even more spiky that big ol' bitter.

Nice drinkable mouthfeel, I call this the star of Sierra Nevada. I crave having this beer around through the cooler months.

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

2002 vintage, sampled Nov. 2003
Aroma: Citric pine hops swirl from the top
Appearance: Red tinged orange with some chill haze frosting the glass, topped with a snow-covered head that slowly melts down the side leaving icicles of lace
Flavor: You have been good this year, St. Nick has brought many hops for you to enjoy, backed with just enough hearty malt to keep the fresh pine hop taste, but stave off the bitter cold
Mouthfeel: cheerful, bubbly warmth that refreshes and soothes
Overall Impression: Even though it’s 87 degrees outside, this beer summoned the Christmas spirit in me. It warmed me with its potent alcohol level, cheered me with its color and lace, and impressed me with a full hop taste but no impulse to pucker. I’m a fairly rabid hophead, but the intensity of the taste and the potent alcohol kick (which is felt much more than tasted) cuts back on drinkability. Like Christmas, part of the magic is in the rarity of the experience. Paired it with a smoked Gouda cheese, which complimented it well. Recommended.

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

On Tap at Anam Cara on 11/4/03

Poured a frothy average size white head. Clear amber hue. Moderate malt and moderate-heavy hopped aroma. Initial flavor had hints of apricot, vanilla and spices. Finish was well balanced between sweet-bitter with the distinct chinook hop staying on the palate for quite a while. Medium body with a dry texture and lively carbonation.

"This is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, this is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on hops". Great representation of an IPA.

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Photo of budgood1
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


my first celebration!

pours out a hazy bright amber colour...slight and tight off white head and lots of festive lace. looks delicious. huge hop aroma...spruce and pine...followed by a citrus punch. a x-mas tree jammed into every bottle. the taste is all about the bitterness and the hop load that provides every perceiveable angle at hop nirvana. cascade hops run roughshod over my taste buds. a bit harsh for non IPA lovers but just right for me. malt backbone is ample and telling, but seemingly meek and mild in comparison to the sensory overload that is the mighty hop. mouthfeel full and explosively bitter. finish is zesty and hopliciously bitter. i can see why this is a classic beer to age just for the intrigue that surrounds what this ale could morph into.

as it is fresh and full of gusto...it is unbalanced and extremely bitter. delicious nonetheless. because a steady supply of SN has finally reached my area, i will be buying as much of this as i can to drink this holiday season and a bunch more to lay down and age for future reference. wow is this a killer IPA.

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

SNCA 2003

Appearance: Immaculatey forms with deep copper amber tone and a two finger sized cream colored head leaves behind scattered lacing very nice brew. Aroma: This one doesn't take you by the hand, it just wallops you with cascades and a huge layered malt profile, floral and piney with a caramel malt like sweet scent this one is amazing. Taste: Well, I this beer and I met early in my beer journey a few years back when I was first getting into beers I ran into this on tap in Fuel and Fuddle in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. To this point my brother Dante' and friend Kolby had tried many different beers together, however after ordering the SNCA my bro and friend were totally turned off making statements like "this tastes like pine sol" and "that's overkill on the hops" well I am proud to say I didn't have that reaction. I absolutely love this beer from the first time I tasted it. Cascades slide upon the palate with an oily resin given them their lubricant capable of being so silky and smooth, while the hops do steal the show I still find this one balanced enough with caramel sweet sticky maltiness so good. Mouthfeel: Perfect carbonation, hop burps come after only three or four sips medium bodied well textured I love it. Drinkability: Definitely need to pick up a case of this beer this coming winter enough hops and malt to keep me happy for a long time.

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

2003 batch kind of weird seeing poinsettias on Halloween but oh well. Dark amber color with a head that is bubbly and coats the glass to the last drop. Smells of sweet version of pine resin very hoppy. Hops come threw full bore in the initial taste but a slight malt sweetness comes threw on the aftertaste. Not being a real hophead I fully appreciate this beer for it gives one of the best tastes of a truly hoppy beers where everything tastes like it is unison.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,291 ratings.