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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.

3,353 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,353
Hads: 9,624
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 19.76%
Wants: 345
Gots: 1,486 | FT: 3
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: 3,353 | Hads: 9,624
Photo of Beastdog75
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(2003 Edition)

Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale is one of the most anticipated beers of the winter season. While other brewers may offer a holiday brew that contains fruits, spices and whatnot SN gives us quite simply a very hoppy IPA that is bold, interesting, and complex.

Celebration Ale pours a nice reddish amber color with a nice foamy head that retains well and leaves decent lacing. Of course, the predominant aroma in this beer is hops. Aroma contains notes of pine, floralness, herbs, and the slightest hint of sweet caramel malts. The mouthfeel is smooth and slightly coating, with a moderate carbonation. The hop flavors jump out immediately in this beer. A strong pine and woody character seem to be the main players in the flavor department. Other notes include herbs, citrus, mintiness, and spiciness. A very slight malt profile was detected under the hops, but to my inexperienced palette it was barely detectable. The beer is quite bitter in the finish. The hop flavors linger well after the beer is finished, and is quite drying as well. There is some alcoholic warmth in the finish, but not nearly as much as you'd expect from a beer that nears 7% abv.

I'm not a card carrying member of the Hophead Society yet, but if I were this beer would probably get an even better score from me. I really didn't find this beer to be all that balanced, but the fact that it is so well-brewed and interesting atones for that. I will eventually acclimate myself to this style, so that when next winter rolls around, I will be ready to accept the onslaught of the Celebration Ale.

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Photo of twilight
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this before, but I now realize the taste of other beers had influenced its flavor. So I'm reviewing it with a neutral palate. 2003 edition, 12 oz. bottle in nonick pint glass.

Beautiful bronze colour, with a ring of head around the outside that leaves beautiful lacing around the glass. The smell is a subtle and beautiful scent of hops, almost as though you were walking through a field of hops, but not overpowering. Taste is heavenly. Major hop taste without being too bitter or acrid. Perfectly balanced with malts. Neither sweet nor sour, but just inbetween. A delicately balanced beer. The other surprise about Celebration is that it goes down super smooth. Aftertaste is pure hops without being overly bitter. Just that nice smooth bitterness. All around an exceptional beer. Too bad I got the last sixer from the beer store. It's a crime to have this beer be only seasonal. But then again I suppose one will appreciate it better.

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Photo of mrpicklerelish
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Apperance- This one poured a nice orangish copper color. The head was a nice light tan color that seemed to pretty much stick around the entire time that I drank it. Or maybe I just drank it a little to fast because of how great it tasted.

Smell- I smelt a floral and ctirus smell right off the bat. Along with a hint of herbs and spices.

Taste- A very nice hoppy IPA, one of the best that I have had. While strong on hops, it tasted very smooth and went down even smoother. There was also a glimps of malt which left a nice sweeteness in my mouth.

Mouthfeel- Despite the massive hops in this brew, it seemed to go very smoothly. Not a crisp beer by any means, but not to heavy either, just right.

Drinkability- Not a session beer do to the 6.8% ABV. But I will say, everytime I run into this brew I must pick up at least a six pack.

Comments- Wow, my first time with this beer and it sure made the last part of 2003 and the beginning of 2004 a blast. When I can no longer get this very special seasonal brew it will be a sad day. But it will sure give me something to look forward to next winter. One of my now all time favorites that I will be sure not to miss towards the end of the year.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

dark amber colored with a thin just slightly off white head. the smell is almost totally hops with a nice clean flowery fresh cut grass smell with pineyness, there is a caramel malt aroma with some baked bread. fresh hop flavors dominate, with a near sweet/ bitter grapefruit taste with that fresh hop spiciness. there is a caramel malt flavor profile underneath this with the same slight yeasty characteristics as the aroma. excellent fully carbonated, but not at all thin, while remaining crisp mouthfeel. probably one of the best beers that i've tasted. man, what a kick ass classic beer. get a case.

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

Appearance--Gorgeous rich bronze color; pleasant slightly off-white head that collapsed quickly. Extremely small carbonation bubbles providing for a long lasting lace on the glass

Smell--Predominate hop aroma that is more flowery than bitter. Very inviting.

Taste--Very short malt flavor up front which quickly becomes overwhelmed by the bitterness from the hop. The aftertaste is entirely bitter hop.

Mouthfeel--Consistant with the style, bitterness lingers long, long after the swallow.

Drinkability--I consider this to be one of the superior American IPA's. While I wouldn't quaff this, if I could only have one beer for an entire evening, this would be one of my top choices.

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Photo of surfmeister
3.43/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: beautiful amber/orange, sturdy head, fun to look at
Smell: hoppy, spicy, very fragrant
Taste: strong bitter component, complex, a little over the top, maybe too much of a good thing, beer doesn't need to hit you over the head IMHO
Mouthfeel: full, nice carbonation
Drinkability: I don't feel like drinking many of these, one was interesting though
Overall: a complex beer with bold flavor, not the second coming though, overrated

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

2003 Edition.

Now this is a beautiful looking beer. Vibrant, glowing, even sparkling amber-colored with lots of bubbling carbonation and a pocked beige head. I mean, this really glows in the glass. Gorgeous--and I haven't even tasted it yet.

Bright, hoppy aroma fits with the appearance, with light sweetnesses at the corners. The taste starts clean, crisp and hoppy, then flows seamlessly into a softer, slightly malty finish with small explosions of sweeter flavors and fruit notes. On top of all that, this beer is ridiculously drinkable, too. Amazing.

Now I know what all the fuss is about. Wow.

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Photo of IceAce
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: Medium Copper color with excellent clarity. Arrived with less than 1 finger of foam head but had already decorated the brim of the Libbey straight-side pint glass with an excellent sticky lace.

SMELL: Don't mean to 'dis this ale. but the collar of foam disppointed by dissapating rapidly leaving behind a disappointed taster. Thus, the quality and quantity of the aroma were slightly lacking behind the lofty expectations.

TASTE: First taste of this big brew was dominated by the aggressive hopping. Subsequent tastings provided glimpses into multiple malts...always followed by (very) sticky hops. ~ (Appearance update) Halfway through the pint the lacing on the glass is picture perfect...thus deepening the mystery of the disappearing head. (We'll blame this on the glasswasher)

MOUTHFEEL: Mouthfeel is exceptional as the tongue is simultaneously tangoing with malts, waltzing with hops, and doing the jitterbug with the just-right level of CO².

DRINKABILITY: All winter long, baby!

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

This is one of those beers that you wish was brewed year round. I always make sure I stock up on Celebration when it arrives each winter. Celebration has a very pleasing nose that reminds me of most holiday brews - a buffet of unique spices, fruits, and hops. The appearance is a deep amber hue with a remarkable light brown head. At first sip your tastebuds jump for joy as the complex, but smooth, structure falls down the back of your tongue. A perfect combination of hops and malt. This is one of Sierra Nevada's jewels and should be enjoyed all winter long.

The King recommends drinking this beer with a slice of Mom's home-made rhubarb pie.

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

I've tried this both in the bottle and on tap, but I prefer the draught version. The head didn't last particularly long, but I didn't particularly care as this beer wasn't undelicious. The hop aroma is groin-grabbingly transcendent and being a hophead, I can't get enough of it. The bitterness is present but is balanced nicely with the malts. I love cascades (who doesn't?) and the citrusy characteristic of them is strong, and it helps to mask any alcohol flavor. Definitely the best IPA I've had that I didn't make myself...

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Photo of MobBarley
4.87/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew knocks my socks off. Poured from a nostalgic looking 12oz. bottle into a pint glass. Above average, off-white head that persisted through the drink. And the color, oh the color! Beautiful and coppery with a festive reddish hue...quite fetching.

The smell of this sample was fresh bread up front, quickly moving into a crescendo of hoppy citrus notes before a final, mellow note of holiday spice.

Hops dominate here and for me that is usually sufficient. This ale is more complex than most, however. This has a strong, malty foundation that imparts slight (butterscotch?) notes and is a worthy counterpart to a truly delicious hoppy/spicy finish with big notes of yellow grapefruit.

Smooth and perfectly carbonated in the mouth. Teases the tongue all over, and is all at once refreshing and substantial.

The drinkability here is almost worthy of a 5.0, but the high ABV makes it a beer better served with a good, spicy meal. Not a session beer, but a special beer.

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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!

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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!!

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,353 ratings.