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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.

3,403 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 3,403
Hads: 9,926
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 19.76%
Wants: 350
Gots: 1,727 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 3,403 | Hads: 9,926
Photo of Hagbard
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark honey color with a nice-sized beige head. Leaves a great lacing down the side of the glass. The aroma is not overpowering, but what is there is beautiful hop bitterness. The aroma is a great precursor to the blast of hops bitterness that assaults the back of your tongue. An IPA through and through. A faint fruity taste teases your tongue in the background, amazing considering the strength of the hops. The aftertaste is more of the same, leading into happy hoppy burps that let you relive the experience. The mouthfeel is heavy due ot the carbonation bombarding the sides of your mouth. This is immensely drinkable. The pint is gone almost before you realize it. I love this beer.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2003 version. It has a cloudy orange amber color. Large bubbles in the head that leave a little bit of lace. An absolutely fantastic spicey and floral hop boquet. The flavor on the other hand did not give me the same hop jump. There was a hop bitterness followed by not a grapfruit citrus but more of a lemony citrus. Lemony like the finish to a lemon ice tea. I don't know if the cloudness in the beer was responsible for the muted finish to the flavor or not. I guess I will just have to wait to next year and try it as soon as it comes out.

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

Pours a nice, clear medium amber brown with off white lacy head that held the sides like a champ and lasted a pretty good time. Aroma of maltiness, citrus, spice and floral hop. The taste of grapefruit citrus hop is very pronounced with a hint of maltiness in the background balancing this out. It has a relatively light mouthfeel with a nice hop bite at the end that makes you want more and more. Very drinkable.

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


Poured a fluffy oatmeal brown colored head left a coat of lace as it faded to a film. Light mahoganny colored beer with a steady stream of bubbles rising from the center of the chalice. Potent piney hop aroma. Wow, only two years ago this beer was the most bitter IPA I could handle. Piney grapefruit hop flavor sits atop a solid malt base. The finish is mildly bitter, solid for an IPA. A staple IPA, nice raw hop character.

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Photo of Zorro
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very mildly cloudy Bronze color.

Smell is sharply hoppy, as an IPA should be. Malt doesn't get overpowered by the hops and shows up. Also has a fruity scent to it.

Taste is sharp hop, and malt, and fruit and spice; all that in the first sip! All the flavors dance on your tongue as you continue to drink it. This is some good stuff.

Mouthfeel is quite thick for its style.

Very drinkable, I also know where there are 4 more six packs of this stuff are. Bye! need to go to the store!

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Photo of ark57
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 - I always look forward to the release of this beer, it has the bitterness that I crave and it signals a great time of the year. It is light copper in color with a citus aroma. It is very bitter with enough maltiness in the body to round it out. Each sip finishes with a appetizing bitterness that leaves you wanting another.

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

Another beer in my "honey, we got our tax return, let's each get fifty to blow and put the rest in the bank," beer. Poured a reddish gold color with a slightly off white fluffy head. Some lacing. Smelled hoppy, imagine that. Cascade mostly if I'm beginning to learn this stuff. Quite tasty. Very hoppy, but not as hoppy as I was expecting. Less of a hops assault more attention to detail. Decent mouthfeel, moderate body with good carbonation. A little oily, but that rarely detracts. Definately drinkable. I can't have more than one in a sitting, but will definately look forward to this each year. My one downside, as it warmed, the alcohol became rather obvious and overpowering.

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

I am sampling this brew at room temp. I pour the beer into my pint glass and its color is clear orangish amber with some light sediment. This is the 2003 version by the way.
I get a soft fluffy off-white head that foams up easily.
Aroma is rich piney hops with some light spices.
The first sip gives me, an average body and medium carbonation, oh yea and lots of hops!
I get a brief sweet caramel hit up front and then hops roll in. SOme pine and some sour grapefruit. A little oily and chewy with a drying finish. This is a nice and smooth brew that is not overwhelmingly hoppy. Very nice to drink!

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

I've had two of these in my beer fridge since November and have somehow managed to resist them. I've been reading about how hoppiness decreases over time, which probably means (since I'm of the 'hoppier the better' school) that I should have had them as fresh as possible. Anyway, I'm about to remedy that oversight tonight.

Medium orange-amber with a moderate haze. The head is very large and is dark cream edging into ecru. Stiff and rocky, then lumpy, it sticks in chunks to the inside of the pint glass. It looks for all the world like a thick, frothy milkshake. Ultimately there are chunky rings of lace on the glass and a thick, lumpy film on top of the beer.

The nose is primarily grapefruit peel-like. Upon tasting, a soft (yet insistent) wave of hops hits the taste buds. Several varieties are probably present and I'm betting that Cascade is among them. The hoppiness is primarily citrusy and floral, with a hint of pine. There is also a background spiciness that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms.

There's a fairly large malt load as well. Alcohol is noted, especially after the initial wave of hops subsides (alcohol is almost undetectable in the 2007 Celebration). The finish is long, decently hoppy and ultimately dry. The body/mouthfeel is creamy and is reasonably full.

There's no question that Celebration Ale is an excellent IPA. It doesn't get extraordinarily high marks from me, however, because the hops aren't quite prominent enough. I know that this isn't a DIPA and that it would undoubtedly have been hoppier if I had drunk it sooner after bottling, but even so...

If you love IPAs that are hoppy with a nod toward balance, then start the Celebration early. Next year I'll crack open my first one on the day I buy it.

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I never drank 2005 Celebration Ale, thought 2006 Celebration was more maibock-like than IPA-like (woefully underhopped) and just enjoyed the hell out of a bottle 2007 Celebration a few hours ago. (re-reviewed 12/29/07)

When done right, this is clearly an expertly brewed ale. The malt backbone was nice and sturdy (mostly pale with a hint of caramel) and the citric hops were right up front where they belong. I was equally impressed with one of the smoothest, creamiest mouthfeels that I've experienced in a beer of this style in quite some time. So *this* is what Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is supposed to taste like!

scores for 2004: 4.5, 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.0... ... 4.15
scores for 2007: 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5... ... 4.3

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

Sampled at home

I must have left it in the freezer a few minutes too many, as the beer has frozen near the point of the bottle. Nothing adverse is noted as a result, however.

Pours cleanly into my glass, a creamy tan head one finger tall arises from the creation.
Excellent looking pale ale. A hazy gold-copper liquid which has presence in the glass. The head fades to a minimum.

Nose of lovely spicy/fruity cascade hops, sweet malt, and light/fruity alcohol notes. Similar to Two-Hearted, but less floral.

Taste is hops in front, for sure. A spicy rendition of the familiar cascade hop is apparent, but ultimately gives way to the expected citrus character. More sweet malt, some light yeast notes, and a clean bitterness that doesn't linger too long. Warms the belly.

All in all, a wonderful brew which should be done year-round, much like Bell's has wisely decided to do. Can't wait to find some more!

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Photo of rajendra82
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am blown away. Pours out with a dark amber orange body and an extra tall beige head that is creamy and smooth. One of the loveliest display of carbonation I’ve ever seen in a beer. There is a near constant stream of tiny bubbles rushing to the top the entire time I drink this beer. The aroma is pure hops with citrus, pine, spruce, and spices in every whiff. Body is medium with an appropriate mouthfeel enhanced by the tiny bubbles that coat your tongue as the beer warms in your mouth. Bitter hoppy taste is a delightful departure from the sweet and syrupy winter fare from others. Malt backbone is solid and creamy, but hops are front, center, and back. Many thanks go to nvsblman for this trade. Hopefully next year this beer will be on the shelves in Georgia. When I see it in the stores, I’m going to be celebrating for sure.


It is now fall of 2004 and by the grace of God, HB 645 is now the law of the land in the State of Georgia. I just picked up a Sierra Nevada Celebration off the shelf from Green’s. When pouring it in the glass I notice something that was missing last year. This year’s version is cloudy. The bottle conditioned release is much less bubbly than the force carbonated 2003 version. The mouthfeel also seems more soft this year, and the spiciness has gone down a notch. Still a classic IPA.

Update 2:

Got a 2003 bottle as part of Cellar Meat BIF 18 from pentathlete. After a year and a half, the hops had faded, and the beer could be considered balanced. The taste had taken on shades of an Old Ale at this age, with some chewy sweet malt. The hops lurked in the back as a peppery wispy presence. I much prefer the assertive fresh taste, but still much to like here.

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Photo of stewart124
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 Celebration
I bought this case before Christmas and let this bottle sit a few months until ready posts about how the hops fade. I didn't want that to happen to my precious.

Pours a beautifully rich amber color with a huge fluffy head and even prettier lacing. Smells a very floral aroma and hints of citrus.
The taste is even better then I remember with a great big bite of hops and a creamy malt character. Notes of caramel and a slight pine taste. This truley is a taste explosion! One of the reasons I look forward to the holiday season. It doesn't get much better than this.

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

Golden/brownish color body with a white head that leaves a smooth looking lace. Smell is spicy and hoppy with fresh green plants, leaves, rainforest. Also some florals and citrus aroma come through. Taste is very hoppy but not off the wall. Good malt taste upfront and a strong, but pleasing bitterness in the end. Also, slight coffee notes in the aftertaste if you look hard. Im not a big fan of IPA's but this one is pretty good.

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Photo of jwilli7122
4.92/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

hazy golden copper color with smallish white head which leaves crusted layers on glass. superb smell- strong floral hops, intense caramel and earth. taste is complex and inspiring...caramel, pine needles, earth (especially), burnt wood, orange peel, pineapple, coffee...floral aftertaste. Medium mouthful that is sharp when cold, and more mellow, smooth and oily when slightly warmed. Near perfection.
a female friend of mine took a sip of my celebration, made a face and asked why i would "pay extra" for something "so harsh." I paused and, content with my answer, did not reply.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The holiday season means there are some great brews, and I can't thing of many better than this. I enjoy searching for this beer as the holidays approach. The snowy cabin on the label gives a feeling that if I was snowed in with this beer, life would be good. Pours a amber/reddish liquid with a great off-white foamy head. The head stayed around for quite some time. Great lace around the glass as time wore on. Smells of citrus, almost spicy. No mistake about it, this is going to be hoppy. The taste is as good as it gets. Hints of a sweet malt surrounded and overtaken by citrusy hops. Plenty of Cascades in this one. This is a hophead's delight. Great medium body. This may not be exactly be a session beer, but since it is a seasonal, make it one! I almost wish that this was a year round beer, but I am glad it is not, so I can appreciate it and look forward to the holidays. If you like hops, you must check this one out.

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Photo of Charthepirate
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

spectacular Pale ale. Poured mahogony redish brown with a thick gorgeous lacing all over. Head was off white, and very dense.

Smell is caramel, light hops.

Flavor is something truly special. Light Earthen flavors mix with a healthy dose of buttery toffee, caramel, roasted malts. Followed is the citrussy piney bit of hops. It all mixed very well, smooth and tastey.

Moth feel is nice round and smooth. A flavorful ale awesome to sip on or session.


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

2003 edition.

Appearance. Very good. Beautiful burn orange color. Great head retention.

Smell. Very good. Hops gives off wonderful citric, woodsy, and flowery aromas with some ripe fruit as beer warms.

Taste. Very good. Hops predominates but malt does well to keep beer from being too bitter.

I really like this IPA. They should make it a normal offering and make something else their winter beer.

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

quite simply a solid to excellent brew all around. pours a healthy amber/gold colour with a nice sized head that hangs out for a little while then leaves a nice chunky residue on the glass. smells of hop, bread, a bit toasty with floral notes and spice and citrus fruit hints. the taste is a bold hit of hop at first, and by bold i don't mean overdone, just powerful. this brew is medium bodied with a nice bitterness coming from the hops and a sweetness following in the back along with some malt flavouring. a nice toasted bread finish completes this one. a very easy drinking brew that is smooth but aggressive and, while it's one of if not the most mainstream holiday brew, is a nice alternative to the more fruit-based holiday beers that are out there. another well made brew from sierra nevada.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is a bright orangey amber, almost a maroonish hue. Excellent clarity. A thick, creamy white head rests atop, keeping a tight foam through the entire pint, barely diminishing at all. Incredible. Rings of belgian lace coat the glass. This is one drop-dead gorgeous brew!
The aroma is replete with pacific northwest goodness. Loads of hops, providing an oily, rind-like grapefruity citric aroma. Definite cascade, with some other citric varieties I can't place, maybe columbus or centennial. A bit of herbal mellowness. Plentiful malt hoists the hopping, balancing it on the tip of a finger. Soft toasty crystal malt aroma, with a touch of biscuitiness. Relatively clean, like all their beers. If you love hops, this is it.
The flavor starts with a solid toasty maltiness right up front, followed quickly by a rather powerful hop flavor. Very oily, with grapefruit rind citus and floral flavor. Clean, with perhaps a touch of floral esters. The citric hopping continues into the finish, where it picks up a bit of soft herbal quality. A pleasantl snappy bitterness in the finish, with some biscuity malt breaking through. A very clean, raw hoppiness, almost astringent in it's potency. Good hoppy burps, with an oily citric flavor lingering on the back of the tongue for centuries. Full bodied, with easy going carbonation.
One of the beers I look forward to all year, and squirrel a few away for spring. Easily one of the best IPAs in the world. A standard for west coast IPA. Great from the bottle, but absolutely stunning on tap. The hops are incredibly fresh.

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

When I took my first sip of this, I was expecting a winter seasonal, not an India Pale ale, so I had to redo my numbers with that in mind.

Appearance: Medium amber color, big sticky off white head..

Smell: Grapefruity hop smell. a touch of ginger (?) is also smelled.

Taste: Smooth hoppy goodness. Long finish, nice balance.

Mouthfeel: Nice and sharp but smooth at the same time, alcohol is well masked. CO2 level is spot on.

Drinkability: For an IPA, this is a pretty wonderful brew. Once it has had a chance to warm just a bit, the flavors become more complex, and it smoothes out just a bit. Nicely done.

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Photo of kwalters
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 Vintage: After reading the glowing reviews, this bottle came highly anticipated. Celebration is a deep amber/orange color with a medium sized head. The smell is obviously hoppy, but also spicy and a bit piney.

Celebration is immediately recognizable as SNPA's big brother. The hop taste is more intense and there is a noticable amount of dry bitterness. In fact, the bitterness and dryness were a bit too much for my tastes. I prefer more citrus notes such as those found in Kalamazoo's Two-Hearted Ale.

There's plenty of flavor and character here to satisfy any American pale ale or IPA fanatic. It's relatively cheap too, for a 6.8% well made IPA.

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

The beer pours a dark amber color with a thick frothy white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is awesome. It is full of piney hops, pale, and crystal malts. It has a nice balanced aroma. The taste is great. It has the best of both worlds. It has a very intense hop flavor which is accompanied by a complex malt bill. The mouthfeel is also good. It is a medium/full bodied beer with excellent carbonation. This beer drinks great. It goes down easy and shows little sign of it's elevated abv. . This beer ranks along side the best I've had; a real good beer.

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

Vintage 2003. 12 oz. traditional bottle with the customary cozy winter scene.

Bronze-orange with nice clarity. Fluffy off-white head that has staying power.

Brilliant hop nose with an interesting earthy scent that makes you wonder what's behind those perky hops.

Ahhh, there it is. Refreshing hops are right up-front with a nice backdrop of malt that keeps it held together nicely. Also hints of pine, faint cinnamon and even vanilla, (but very subtle). I enjoyed the many dimensions of this med. bodied seasonal offering. It's definitely got more going on in the taste dept. than one might expect. I even detected a hint of cinnamon in the long and flavorful finish.

Mouthfeel is viscous, with the essential curl of the tongue you get with any well hopped ale. Fine carbonation which keeps things moving along nicely.

One of the more highly drinkable holiday ales you might find. A hop head's delight with something there for the malt maestros as well.

A must have for the holidays. I enjoyed this vintage more than the last couple due to it's slight chewy malt characteristics. If you can keep this around until Valentine's day, you're doing better than me.

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Photo of Chsyhkr
3.16/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Ah, Celebration Ale, one would think of a nice winter warner, not!

A nice beer for hopheads, but too typical of overdone west coast hopped beers.

Really a nice IPA and not much more. A full gold color and strong hop presence, bordering on insipid. Some malt in the aroma and taste, but you know what we are getting here. HOPS!

A fairly dry beer, not unusual for an IPA with a clean finish, if you consider ripping your tastbuds out with pliers clean.

Hey, it's a good beer but not a "winter celebration" type ale. Don't be fooled by the packaging!

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Photo of beerman599
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i sat down with five coceutive years of this and found out that as the hops subside this becomes a great english still old ale. this year was full hpppy and wonderfully bitter, 2003 was still full bitter and hoppy 2002 starts to mellow and the hops start to fall away and expose more fruity character , the 2001 really starts to become and old ale with ripe fruit character and rich malt quilty, make no mistake their as still a great hop character its just becomes more sutle and allows the other flavors to come through

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,403 ratings.