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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

7,846 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,846
Reviews: 3,155
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.54%
Wants: 206
Gots: 468 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-02-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,846 | Reviews: 3,155 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CortexBomb
3.33/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 bottling

Pours out dark orange with black edges and an off-tan head which settles to a solid 1 inch thickness. Nose is lovely with a strong, yet not overwhelming hop presence to go with some undefined sweet aspect and the vaguest hint of pine.

Taste is almost textbook IPA all the way though, the variety of the nose gives way to what I would call a standard American IPA hop bitter on the back of the tongue which almost completely dominates the taste. I get faint hints of malts in the creamy note, and some off-nutty tones when I go fishing for them, but this is predominantly a generic IPA IMO.

Mouth is a notch above average though, good full, carbonated feeling that goes well with the style. The drinkability I only rate average though, largely due to my opinion on over-hopped beers, which this certainly qualifies as.

Strange brew, I bought this thinking it was a warmer, and ended up disappointed when I realised it was only a seasonal IPA. I'm not normally a fan of over-hopped beers, and this offering by SN is no exception. For the hop heads only.

CortexBomb, Jan 23, 2005
Photo of baiser
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a dark amber colour, nice head, good retention. Floral aroma, fruity, great hop aroma. In terms of taste, I was expecting something more unique. But it's a typical west coast, hoppy ale, which is fine by me. Taste was fruity, hopped up. Great balance between malt and hops. Juicy and flavourful. Drinkability is exceptional.

baiser, Jan 22, 2005
Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a red/orange color with a very small head that dies off quickly. The body appears thin.

Smell is mostly hops - floral and spicy.

Taste is full of hops as expected. There are some subtle sweet flavors that I can't place but round off the flavor nicely.

Overall, its great for long sessions, but doesn't offer much for a single beer experience.

GuinnessSmurf, Jan 21, 2005
Photo of oracle
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

20 oz draft pour served in a traditional english pint glass.

Beer pour a hazy golden brass/bronze with a dense slightly off white head that left a slight amount of lacing

Aroma was hoppy citrus and pine. Some ripe mild fruit in there as well.

The more Sierra Nevada ales I drink, the more they are all starting to taste the same to me. Maybe they use the same kind of hops in everything, but I think I'm beginning to detect a distinct "SN" profile to most of their beers. Upon my first sip of this beer, my first thought was "Hey, this tastes kinda like the Bigfoot barleywine, with a lot less intensity".

Still tasted pretty darn good, with lots of hops in front and sweet fruity middle with a dry bitter finish.

oracle, Jan 21, 2005
Photo of whartontallboy
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep orange/copper with a orange-white head that clings to my glass. Smell is very hoppy, but the malt backing is in there, too, along with some orange. Hoppy taste with some fruit and caramel thrown in for good measure; these citric notes are heavenly. Medium-bodied mouthfeel with a great hop aftertaste with lingering orange notes. It's downright tasty, but I usually only have one or two in a sitting; lot of complexity in there to think over.

whartontallboy, Jan 20, 2005
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Celebration Ale is copper in color with a foamy, creamy head. The head sticks around till the end of the glass and stays fairly foamy for most of the glass. Aroma is entirely of strong citrusy hop smell. The taste is big and hoppy. Strong bitterness in the finish, which lasts a good while after the sip is complete. This is maybe just a little too bitter for it's own good, a little more tasty hop flavor profile might kick the taste up to a 4.5 in my rating scheme. Then again, this is only my 3rd IPA, so what do I really know. Anyhow, I still very much enjoyed Celebration Ale and will be picking it up again next winter.

Gagnonsux, Jan 20, 2005
Photo of newyawker
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a opaque bronze with a big haze and a great, big old head of cotton-candy froth. Smells like the hop forest. Other fruity things going on, and a beautiful, up-front hoppy taste. Bits of malted milkball meets caramel apple flavor notes, and then a bitter, hoppy finish. Not that easy to drink, but very good.

newyawker, Jan 19, 2005
Photo of babydoc
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Methinks I'm becoming a hophead. The 2004 edition pours into a pint glass an orange/amber with a three finger creamy white head that is dense, frothy, and looks stiff enough to sit things on it... it persisted nicely, and left lace on the sides until the beer was, sniff, gone... I'm not sure why others have noted no head at all. The nose jumps at you with fruity citrus hops, a little orange sweetness there, too. Taste is sweet malt backbone that is overwhelmed and bubbling over with citrusy hops. The mouthfeel is creamy initially, a little thinner as I reach the end. The light carbonation seems to bubble on the tongue, and the hops persist to leave the tongue tingling with a touch of bitter long after the beer is down the hatch.

babydoc, Jan 15, 2005
Photo of aquatonex
3.8/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pleasant burnt orange with minimal head, decent carbonation. Very good lacing throughout. Smells of toasted hops and a little dark malts. A medium-strong hops is most noticeable in the taste along with a heavier body than regular IPAs. Although I'm not a fan of the heavier hopped brews, this definitely had more to offer.

aquatonex, Jan 15, 2005
Photo of edbeered
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap, this beer is an appealing amber color, with plenty of lacing. The hops are quite evident up front(both in smell and taste), but do not overwhelm the balance of this beer. There is a counterbalancing fruity, almost citrusy taste. What amazes, considering all the complex flavors, is how smooth this beer is(proof that smoothness does not equal blandness). A true classic, by one of the great pioneering craft breweries.

edbeered, Jan 14, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This poured a dark orange in color out of the tap. It had some brownish notes as well. The head was puffy and very pretty. It showed retention the whole time I drained the pint glass and left some awesome lacing.

Smell – The nice, sharp pine is what I first noticed in this nose. There was also some light citrus and maybe a few other hoppy notes. The healthy malt base gave this IPA a very good balance.

Taste – The hop profile is very complex and reflects the scents found in the nose. The toasted malts come up slightly bigger at the taste and have a small nut compliment. As I said before, this is a very balanced brew.

Mouthfeel – This one is a solid medium bodied, on the bigger side mind you, with a terrific lingering aftertaste.

Drinkability – One of the more quaffable beers that I’ve had. On-tap this thing is addictive.

RoyalT, Jan 14, 2005
Photo of tweeder263
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a beautiful amber with a nice 2 finger head medium carbonation.Smell is nice and hoppy.Decent hop filled taste, with a little alcohol warmth towards the end.Mouthfeel was ok just a little thin for me.A good beer ,theres other brands id probably prefer first,but id never turn one of these down.

tweeder263, Jan 10, 2005
Photo of apintofknowledge
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Last year (2003), I picked up a six pack of Celebration Ale after hearing so many fellow beer-lovers exalt it's virtues. I only drank one bottle... actually I couldn't even finish the bottle. At that point, I had never had so much hops in my life. Way too bitter for my taste buds. What was everyone so excited about? How could they drink this?!?

A year later, after growing to love a number of brews that I once found too bitter, five remaining bottles of Celebration still awaited. I was curious to see what a difference a year makes.

I'm not sure if it was the year of aging or coming to enjoy the occasional beer with such a strong hops presence, but the Celebration certainly was more drinkable this year. Sure those hops were almost overpowering, and my taste buds had enough after two bottles, but it was enjoyable. I could taste a little orange/citrus flavor, and a touch of sweet malt along with the very persistent bitter and flowery hops. The alcohol taste was still there too, though I assume after a year it was somewhat reduced. Maybe I'll let those three bottles sit for another year, and taste the results.

On a pairing note, drinking Celebration while grazing on a variety of Christmas day appetizers, I found it pairs really nicely with strong cheeses. Not only does the cheese cut some of the bitterness of the hops, but the ale seems to bring out more flavor from the cheese.

apintofknowledge, Dec 29, 2004
Photo of cncbofh
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a little beauty. I had not heard of the Celebration Ale from anyone - so when I first purchased it, all I could think of was a typical Christmas ale... something with spices, lots of alcohol and a deep chewy flavor.

Holy cow! It's a Christmas Pale Ale and it's killer!!! The hops are powerful. Strong spicy citrus scent - can use this thing for a room freshener. Hope you like the smell of hops.

The taste is a small bit of malt swallowed by a humongous overload of citrusy hops. There is alcohol present, but it's not overwhelming and is well balanced with the brew. God this smells good and tastes great. Excellent beer for around the tree - or menorah, or buddha... hell, even atheists can enjoy Christmas with this one.

cncbofh, Dec 29, 2004
Photo of MuddyFeet
2.7/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Waiting for the backlash on this, but I just don't like the taste of wood polisher... errrr... pine in my beer. Wreaths stay on the door, they do not belong in my beer. While I do very much enjoy the hops in the beer, the pine just kills any joy I get from this beer. There are also hints of caramel and spices, but the pine just shoots them down in my opinion. I will admit this is not as pungent a pine as I've had compared to other beers, but I can still taste it.

MuddyFeet, Dec 28, 2004
Photo of Guinness4me
3.03/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In an attempt to not offend the hop heads of the bunch, I'll be as kind as possible with this beer as it does seem like a good example of the style.

The color was a lovely golden/orange color with a white head full of tiny bubbles. The smell was 110% hops to nearly the point of a flowery perfume.

The taste was all hops with a slight, sweet malt and a very bitter finish that tended to linger on the back of my tongue.

The mouthfeel was neither offensive nor spectacular but again is indicative of the style. I'm glad to get this one over.

Guinness4me, Dec 27, 2004
Photo of mrfosters
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow. What happened? Maybe I got a mishandled six pack. Don't get me wrong this is not horrible ,but it's certainly nowhere near the past versions.It poured a dark amber ,but with very little head and the lacing was non exsistant.It seemed very subdued in all aspects ,not really spicy ,not hoppy, not much more than an average IPA.I look forward to this every year and sadly ,this year I was dissappointed.But as I said , maybe ,I hope, I just got a sixer that was somehow mishandeled . I'll see if I can still find this somewhere else and rerate it.

mrfosters, Dec 26, 2004
Photo of hammerhead
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2004 version is as good as always. Strong pine resiny aroma and sharp bitter taste. Centennial hops at their best. I finally found this beer at Whole Foods in the Chelsea section of Manhatten after searching around my local distributors for weeks. This beer is consistent year after year. Too bad it's not available year round. A rock solid IPA that is very drinkable despite it's 6.8 ABV. With all the over the top seasonal beers out there I've tried, I always find myself going back to this classic IPA. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This beer will go down in the annals of American brewing as the classic IPA that all others are compared too. Please Sierra Nevada, make this available year round!

hammerhead, Dec 26, 2004
Photo of CBFanWish
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fantastic offering from Sierra Nevada. Pours a bronze colour with a thick foamy head. A sweet malty aroma wakes you up with hints of pine. The taste is full of wonderful flavours. Pine, grapefruit, and even grassy notes rock the tastebuds like a mo fo. Great stuff. A great beer for just about anything.

CBFanWish, Dec 25, 2004
Photo of maccroz
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wow! This beer packs a punch on every level. The appearance is perfect. Dark and golden with a small but evident head. It smells seductive enough to inspire a pavlovian watering of the mouth.

The first sip is what will get you though. It's a flood of hops and so many other tastes that you can't put your finger on any of them. From the moment it hits the tip of your tongue to the moment you swallow it's a safari of tastes and sensations.

I doubt you'd be able to drink too many of these in one sitting though, not only is it complex on the tongue, but it also packs a 6.8% punch.

Give this one a shot for sure!

maccroz, Dec 23, 2004
Photo of rowew
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one was on tap at Falling Rock - so my review isn't as detailed as usual. All in all a fantastic beer that I look forward to having again in the future. Poured a beautiful bright amber color with a nice head that left a lot of lacing as it drained. Fresh hops and citrus flavor dominate - with just enough malty undertones to keep it reasonable (but this one is definitely for hop-heads). Great creamy mouthfeel

rowew, Dec 21, 2004
Photo of Crotor
3.4/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2003 bottle, cellared until consumption in mid December, 2004.

Pours dark amber, rather cloudy with chunks floating around - I must've kicked up the sediment. Great, dimpled, off white, lingering head (1 finger).

There's a slight pine-resin aroma, and a bit of grapefruit - the hops are subdued but still there. Not much else to the aroma. Really kinda underwhelming, actually. The volume on the hop aroma is turned down, but the volume on the malt aroma hasn't been turned up.

My first impression when I drink is of the creamy, smooth mouthfeel. There's a nice bit of caramel underneath it all, but it hasn't really opened up yet (will it?) Damn, this stuff feels downright creamy right now - great mouthfeel. Ooh, but now those citric hops are rearing their head; amazing, the power left in 'em.

Overall, a nicely incorporated, balanced flavor. However, I find myself missing the full strength of the hops in fresh Celebration. This is my first experience with cellared Celebration, and though it's certainly good, I simply prefer it fresh. I think I'm gonna go pull those six-packs of '04 back out of the cellar, and drink 'em this season instead...

Crotor, Dec 21, 2004
Photo of AlexJ
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What can I say that has not allready been said, except that I can't get it here in NC and that makes me want to cry. Winter just won't be the same without this staple of Holiday enjoyment. Perfectly balanced, hoppy, spicy, and good enough to drink all night. Whenever the subject of good winter brews comes up, this immediately comes to mind. Good good!

AlexJ, Dec 20, 2004
Photo of Suds
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 Celebration: bronze colored liquid with an off-white, firm, rocky head. Sticky lace. The beer is cloudy from yeast sediment. The aroma is thick of piney hops. It’s an intense aroma: a wake-me-up peppery, outdoorsy, full-on Northwest smell. Hint of malt underneath the hops. Tongue numbingly bitter, with a dry, crisp, very refreshing finish. I’d love this beer year-round.

Suds, Dec 20, 2004
Photo of JackStraw22
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(2004) Beer pours a crisp golden/amber with a nice 1-2 inch foamy head, good retention, nice lacing too. There's a pleasent "ale" aroma. Fruity esters from the hops are present, I can smell some nutmeg and ginger too (or else I've just been eating too many cookies lately) I think I can smell some malt too, but not much. Very hoppy as I would expect from SN, phenomenal!! Wow! Spicey, piney not too sweet. This beer tastes like Christmas. I want one of these while opening my presents this year (which will hopefully be more of these). Exceptional drinkablity for the hoppiness, could go with these all night.

JackStraw22, Dec 20, 2004
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 7,846 ratings.