1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.

7,893 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,893
Reviews: 3,157
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.54%
Wants: 219
Gots: 482 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,893 | Reviews: 3,157 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of woemad
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Jim's Homebrew in Spokane for $1.35. 2003 vintage. Poured a copper color with a lot of carbonation. White head as thick as my finger. Had a spicy hoppy scent, with a caramel-sweet maltiness hovering in the background. While the taste is dominated by hoppiness, its not overbearing like many IPAs I've known. While subdued by comparison, the maltiness is definitely not afraid to come out and play, with a nice caramel flavor that complements the spiciness of the hop flavor quite well. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy. This is not something that will thrill people with an unhealty hop sensation, but it is a very drinkable IPA that I will remember when I next go for a sixer.

woemad, Dec 07, 2003
Photo of Crosling
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not the typical holiday time beer. I am definately not used to Holiday beers being IPA's so the pour and then the initial taste was somewhat of a shocker. This wasn't what I was expecting, somewhat of a let down considering I am not a fan of the style but it was still a pretty damn tasty IPA.

Poured a magnificent hazy rich golden copper with a head that lasted throughout the entire session.

The aroma was of citrus hops and a low malt presense.

The flavor was overwhelmingly hoppy with hints of grapefruits and other citrus flavors. Not a lot of malt presense in this beer. As my palate started to adjust towards the bitterness I actually started to enjoy this brew.

Crosling, Dec 05, 2003
Photo of Weissenheimer
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear as crystal, this ale looks precisely like amber. It has a big, lightly tanned, foamy head which quickly dimples and becomes satisfyingly chunky. The combination of spices and hops in the smell brings Rogue Santa's Private Reserve immediately to mind, but here those two elements are more unified. The smooth, sweetly malty, and spicy scent is quite lovely.

The taste is not at all what I expected. Its surprisingly peppery spiciness is not of the sort that the smell would seem to presage. Its hoppiness reminds me again of Santa's Private Reserve, but here the hops are very crisp and not as bitter. It's quite drinkable and the big, steep peaks of lacing left at the end are a bonus, but I'm somewhat turned off by the distinct taste of pepper and the absence of the more jolly winter spices.

Weissenheimer, Dec 03, 2003
Photo of winomark
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep copper with a wonderful frothy, slightly sticky off-white head.

Aroma: Beautiful hoppy spice and bitterness. My ideal IPA nose. Malt is present, but nicely hidden.

Taste: Hops and more hops throughout!! Drying, but quite flavorful. Malt offers a wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel: Crisp and dry, with amazingly complex flavors. Slight malt sweetness adds some weight.

Drinkability: One of my top 3 winter seasonals! Fabulous. Find this one and drink all you can while it is still around.

P.S. Just realized this is my 100th beer review. Couldn't have planned it any better if I tried!

winomark, Dec 02, 2003
Photo of yankeeheel
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok, I'll admit it, I'm scared. I am not a big IPA fan but everyone keeps raving about this beer, so I must try it.

Pours a crystal clear orange with a pretty white head. Lots of lacing here. Smells quite faintly of grass and lemon. Not overwhelming. So far so good.

Wow. This is nice. Quite a bit of caramel and pecan up front with just a bit of that hop burn at the end. The hop almost seems to be delayed until about 5 seconds after I swallow. A very mellow IPA with a nice solid mouthfeel. Doesn't try to blow you out, but you still get the intent.

I shall consume again.

yankeeheel, Dec 02, 2003
Photo of rdrummer
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I look forward to this every year. The 2003 Celebration Ale pours a clear, medium amber with a creamy head that foams nicely and than subsides to thin lacing all the way down. The predominant aroma is the hops in this one. I am a hops addict so this one is great. There is a fruitiness underlying the hops, and there are some spices that I suspect are nutmeg, clove, and maybe cinnamon.

The overwhelming taste is the hoppiness. The carbonation is right for this type of ale. I taste a little citrus in with the hops and a definite spicy taste deep in the beer. It is excellent, and feels great in the mouth. The spicy, hops taste lingers but this is a hop lovers delight in taste and feel.

This is the most drinkable of Sierra's seasonals, and beats its flagship Pale Ale hands down. This is something to look forward to each Christmas season.

rdrummer, Dec 01, 2003
Photo of Foxman
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It pours a deep, almost lustrous amber, the head swelling nicely, then ebbing to a comfy, off-white coating across the top of the beer. It laces alluringly down the sides of the glass.

The aroma is hops first, and hops last, with the citrusy fruitiness of the IPA standard hoppy characteristics. It hastens you to sip, but not too hastily, of course.

The flavor floods hops across your palate, with citrus at the fore, with perhaps a soft lemon lilt coming through, followed by a very real malt semi-sweetness. The finish is again hops, with the bitterness laying claim to the back of your tongue, leaving you wanting the next taste. As an aside, as the beer warmed, I thought I noted a very fleeting wisp of toffee or butterscotch as the malt gave way to the hops at the finish. She Who Must Be Obeyed smirked when I said this, but I stand by my senses. For better or worse.

It's medium of body, with a nice alcohol glow working its way through your mouth and downward, and a pleasant slick of hops and malt lingering just right before it dwindles.

I cannot imagine anyone not wanting another. In fact, one leads to another, drawing you in like a moth to a flame. The ABV is just such that you likely can afford to indulge in as many as your senses tell you you require to satisfy The Urge. In fact, this beer may qualify as The Gateway beer that turns you on to many others. But whatever it is, its about as good as it gets, with a few exceptions, and henceforth just the view of that festive label will be enough to make me knock off work and imbibe.

Foxman, Nov 30, 2003
Photo of JISurfer
3.2/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Other than the apperance, this was an above average brew for me. I am not really a hop head, so it just didn't do it for me. I will say though, that it was better than most hoppy ales. The smell was hoppy, the taste was hoppy, and that was about it. Never really got anything other than hops. Hope this review doesn't discredit me, but if it does, so be it.

JISurfer, Nov 29, 2003
Photo of silks636
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle. 2003 edition. Served at cellar temp.

Beautiful clear amber with a rocky white head. Excellent retention and large sheets of lace. You can smell the hops when you open the bottle... serious citric/floral/pine aromas and upon closer inspection a touch of sweet malt and spice are detected. Starts off sweet before you get hit with a smack of bitter hop... serious flavor, but not at all overwhelming. A sweet bready malt accompanies the cascades to keep things in control. Finish is dry and pleasantly bitter. Mouthfeel is smooth with nice carbonation. A very warming and comforting brew.

Yep, I could live on this stuff. Always a treat year in and year out. Can only see this one getting better with age... have put aside a few just for that purpose. Has been tops on my list of special holiday ales for a decade now.

silks636, Nov 29, 2003
Photo of filabrazilia
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 Edition

What a beauty! This fine ale splashes into my glass like an Olympic diver who needs all 10's. It pours a glorious orange with touches of gold. Great head retention and lacing that clings to my glass as I savor each sip.

The aroma is fruity, malty and hoppy. They blend together nicely to treat my nose to an olfactory delight.

The taste is bold. The hops and malts balance each other and cover my tongue with a mildly dry sensation. Dry, but not too dry. This is what all dry should be.

I could drink this sucker all the time and never apologize for it. While I did not give it a perfect score, it comes as close to perfect as an IPA should.

I wish all brewers could make beer this delightful.

filabrazilia, Nov 28, 2003
Photo of dpend
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drawn from Hand Pump #2 at The Cock n' Bull Pub on 11/25/03

The color and aroma was glorious.An orange and amber hue hid below a pillow of eggshell white froth.Quick dissipation was not on it's list of things to do.Trails of lacing remained.The scent is of distant spice and a wallop of hops and citrus. Taste was immense with great balance and a bold finish of strong hops. Nice,smooth and a bit chewy. In my opinion, one of the best beers made. It's too bad that it's a seasonal.I could drink it all the time and never tire of it.

dpend, Nov 26, 2003
Photo of Tballz420
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 edition. The body is a hazy amber/orange color, topped with a well crafted foamy white head. Excellent lacing. The scent is of hops, big hops. The taste of this brew is a excellent mix of a huge dose of hops combined with smooth malts. Very smooth feeling beer. The one problem with this is that its too easy to drink, and before you know it you will have put down ten and receive a nice reminder the next morning.

Tballz420, Nov 26, 2003
Photo of steelreign
4.8/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The hop bomb returneth! This is the infamous SN Celebration Ale, what can be described as their Pale Ale on steroids. Sticky, slightly sweet, bitter, and hoppy - this monster will lay waste to your palette and laugh in its' wake. Not for the uninitiated, this one is supremely balanced and chock full of flavor. The only thing wrong with this brew is that it's not made year round.... Excellent! Get it while you can!

steelreign, Nov 25, 2003
Photo of kbub6f
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The small, yellowy-tan head is dense and still. Color is copper, maybe a little darker than its older brother, and no haze. Nose is sweet, but doesn't smell like sugar. It's faintly hoppy with a touch of sour milk. Front is hoppy bitter. Some nice malt in the middle, but it can't compete with the bitter hops, which pile on even stronger in the big finish. Just a smidge metallic. It's more bitter, rougher than the aged 2003 and doesn't have the nice richness of the malt. Still a good beer, of course.

2003:260: 4.0 | 4.5 | 4.5 | 4.0 | 4.0 (= 4.3)
A small, tan-whitish, noisy head dies fairly quickly. The clear, deep copper beer is just a touch hazy. Psycho lacing. The nose is sweet, sugar and grapefruit hops. Starts fruity, dark hoppy, with some nice milk. Thick through the middle, dark caramel malt, some butter. Still very hoppy bitter in the finish after a year and a half. The buttery malt is really starting to shine through. Very good (quite a bit nicer than the 2004 right now, for me).

2003 fresh: 4.0 | 4.5 | 3.5 | 4.0 | 4.0 (= 3.9)

A very light, tan, crusty, sticky head leaves lots of sticky lacing. The beer is clear, reddish/amber. Nice. Huge, mouth-watering Cascade in the nose along with a sweetish maltiness. The front is very bitter but settles to a sweet, malty, somewhat creamy middle. Hoppy bitter in the finish, of course. Grapefruit burps. This is a very tasty Cascades IPA with a full malty middle. I love the hop monsters, but this one really needs to warm up for the malt to take the edge off the hops. For me, the competition in this field wins.

kbub6f, Nov 25, 2003
Photo of Running4beer
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a copper/amber color with a thick frothy off white head very nice and it maintains for quite a while then slowly thins out never fading out completely. Carbonation was moderate and had a medium bodied mouth feel. Aroma was straight up hops, citrus hops, floral hops, spiced hops and a piney/grassy aroma. Flavor was much the same as the aroma straight up hops spicey and floral hops were the strongest flavors noticable a bit and tiny bit of caramel malt. There was a slight bitterness and aftertaste IMO. Good brew but not my favorite SN....

Running4beer, Nov 24, 2003
Photo of bditty187
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle, 2003 Edition

Very lightly hazy coppery-amber hue, the off-white head reached a perfect height of a fat finger. The retention was great, firm and long lasting; it slowly compacts to a small tight cap. Modest lacing. Either this version is much hoppier in the nose that last year or I missed something previously because this is a hoppy treat. The bouquet is largely citrus (heavy on the rinds), piney, floral hops, very deep, complex, each attributes comes to the foreground, then fades, which allows a different quality to shine. Inviting. The palate is raw with hops; SN amazes me with this brew. Upfront is heavy with citrus rinds, bitter as all get out, a quick hint of floral mixes in the middle, an implication of clean malts too. The finish is a grapefruit and pine fest. I love the long lingering hoppy, bitter, raw aftertaste; Michael Jackson must have been drinking a Celebration Ale when he coined the phrase “more-ish.” This is a very special brew; winter would be pointless without it. At this young age it is not balanced and any mention of malts is ephemeral. Worth cellaring to mellow, if that is your bag. Medium-full in body, sturdy carbonation, very appropriate for a hearty, hoppy, winter warmer. Astonishingly drinkable! Especially if you consider the alcohol content, it is a well-hidden 6.8% abv. Highly Recommended.

Bottle, 2002 Edition (4.5 / 3.5/ 4.5 / 4 / 5) = 4.3

Terrific amber hue with a massively rocky, tan head with fantastic lace. A citrusy grapefruit dominates the nose but a noticeable hops aroma is present as well. Occasionally I could detect a note of pine. Balance was not the objective; the flavors are mainly hops... damn tasty pine (and grapefruit). Faint malt sweetness could be perceived as well. This beer is surprisingly firm, yet smooth, in the mouthfeel department. The 6.8% abv makes this a true winter warmer! This brew is lip-smacking, mouthwatering good! This is a must try! The lack of balance may deter some and the “power” of the hops may deter others. I think this beer is worthy of the praise, even though it is not as hoppy as I had expected.

bditty187, Nov 22, 2003
Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had the good fortune of finding a sixer of this at Kappy's. Ran about $8. Had an deep amber color with a decent head. The twist off makes it way too easy. The taste was hoppy, but not over powering. The label said 2003, but I don't think the taste changes much year to year. Bitter sweet, this is a fantastic beer. If only store 24 carried it!

bewareOFpenguin, Nov 21, 2003
Photo of Boilermaker88
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I decided to start my inaugural journey through the winter seasonal brews yesterday. What better way to start than with a Celebration, Sierra Nevada style. Presented in a 12oz brown bottle with a cozy picture of a snow-covered house on the label and a “2003" on the neck label, this beer had a clear coppery color with a firm whitish head that had nice retention and left some sticky webby lace in its wake. Lots of carbonation noted.
I picked up the aroma from nearly a foot away! Wow, that has a seriously hopped aroma. Lots of citrus aroma and spruce pine scents with some toasty malt and caramel intermixed to keep things in check. The taste was a hearty blend of pine- and grapefruit hops juiciness that ruled the glass, allowing the malt aspect to make only brief appearances to balance things out. The hops keep marching on through the finish, leaving a lasting bitterness and making for some lively hops burps later. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and a bit resiny as the spruce carpets the tongue.
Definitely not what I expected for a winter seasonal. Great thing was, I had a desire for a well hopped beer when I got home from work. Celebration was just the ticket. A really well-built IPA. Too bad it isn’t around all year.

Boilermaker88, Nov 21, 2003
Photo of Ellbert
4.78/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a wonderful brew. It has a decent apperance. There wasn't much of a head and just a little lace. That took points away from the apperance.

The smell is that of a good IPA, very floral and citrusy with a bit of malt sweetness.

The taste is exceptional with different flavors coming in at different times. There is a nice sweet maltiness to go along with the bitter fruitiness of the hops. Well balanced with the hops upfront.

Mouthfeel is great, it is very smooth with sublte carbonation.

Very drinkable and very buyable for 5.49 a sixer in Toledo Ohio.

Ellbert, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of ColForbin
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

SNCA may just be my favorite beer in the world - certainly my favorite American beer. I twist off the cap of a 2003 bottle with much anticipation. It pours an orangey-red with with a thin, fine-bubbled head. The nose is full of piney hops, making me remember that this is the drink to set up a Christmas tree with - forget egg nog. Taste is all hops, but with a firm malty body to back it up. Just the perfect mouthfeel to keep you coming back for more - not too thick, not too thin. A perfect beer, hence the 5's in all categories.

ColForbin, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of AbePhroman
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

When I first bought this I didn't know it was an IPA. I was so delighted when I took the first sip out of my glass. IPA's are one of favorite types of brews.
Pours a dark red color with a tan head. Smoooth taste!! Tasty, tasty hoppiness, how do I love thee! Very drinkable beer. 6.8% isn't something to laugh at but it leaves room for a good amount.
Snatch this up while you can because it will be gone before spring. (Actually, I was at a local liquor store in Jersey the other day and they still had 2002 on the shelf...I passed.)
If you enjoy drinking IPA's then you will not be disappointed. If you like this brew try Victory Hopdevil.

AbePhroman, Nov 19, 2003
Photo of NearerMyBeerToMe
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 was the first year I tasted this, which turns out to be something I should have done earlier. Pours starting out with a nice two-finger head, fluffy in the middle, with a medium bead. After a minute or two, head subsides and remains at about one finger or so. Abundant bubble strings streaming through deep bronze-colored liquid, almost glowing orange around the edges of the glass when held up to light. Nice color! Lace is clingy at first; later slides easily down sides of glass. Aroma is distinctly citric and hoppy; by aroma alone you can recognize this as an IPA. Caramelly hints of malt in the middle of the nose. Taste is of lots of American hop, citrusy juiciness, and another light, caramelly maltiness at the back of the palate. Lemon juice, orange rinds; just a touch of spice, nutmeg? clove? consistent with the season. Mouthfeel is outstanding. Juicy, wet, moreish, with that citric character really cleansing the palate with lemony wetness, not as dry as the majority of IPAs. No alcohol taste to speak of; deeply quenching and moreish. Very drinkable... the first time I encountered this beer was on draft and I wasn't familiar with the alcohol content, so a friend and myself ordered it by the pitcher and treated it like a session beer, which, in retrospect, wasn't the most accurate approach. That won't keep me from enjoying a few more six-packs (at a more appropriate pace) this season. Its chart position is understandable... Recommended.

NearerMyBeerToMe, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of BierManVA
3.7/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It's difficult for me to review IPA's because they are a bier that I am not particularly agreeable about. But I do recognize this one as pretty good.

Excellent appearance, a massive head and redish amber color. The smell is crisp medicinal hop.

Tastewise, the hops really come through and you better have excellent tastebuds to get anything other than bitter. And I do mean bitter. I guess I don't qualify.

If you like IPA's, this bier's for you.


BierManVA, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of mschofield
4.93/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 bottling
Nice orange-red color with a thick off-white head, laces very well.
Strong hoppy aroma with some spice, I already know I'll like this one.
Hops carry through to the taste, and theres some orange zest in there with spruce. A little bitter but oh so smooth.
As for drinkability.. this is a holiday present from Sierra Nevada to beer drinkers, I could buy it by the case.

2004 bottling
Pours a rich, clear copper-amber, topped with a two finger creamy khaki head, leaves webs of lacing.
Citrus and leafy hop, toasted malt, bread and spruce aroma.
Awesome hop flavor, citrus, flowers, pine, toast and caramel. Nice high bitterness, strong but not obnoxious. Dark toffee note.
Awesome at cellar (55-60) temperature.

mschofield, Nov 18, 2003
Photo of Stingray5
4.83/5  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.

Stingray5, Nov 16, 2003
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 7,893 ratings.