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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.

3,290 Reviews

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Reviews: 3,290
Hads: 9,400
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.64%
Wants: 321
Gots: 1,317 | 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
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Reviews: 3,290 | Hads: 9,400
Photo of CuriousMonk
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a dimpled mug. Pours a very clear red amber with a small white head leaving a good amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is caramel malt, strong of spicy hops, light pine and citrus hops. Initial taste is malty caramel, followed by spicy and citrus hops. Finish is bready with a light bitterness. Medium body. Medium carbonation. Pretty hoppy for a winter style IMO. (395 characters)

Photo of Crotor
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
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... (1,165 characters)

Photo of AltBock
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. stubby bottle that was the 2006 edition. The bottle has a beautiful Christmas style label of a log cabin located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The log cabin is covered with at least 2 feet of snow on the roof and on the ground. It looks like the people of the cabin aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Sierra Nevada put some Christmas Poinsettias around the outer part of the label. To the right of the label is the Government warning and some kind of bottle number above the barcode. The vintage date can be found on the top neck label. The outer part of this small label is lined with the same Christmas Poinsettias that can be found on the main label. The small neck label only has a sentence about the brewing tradition of this kind of beer. No bottle opener needed for this beer, it has a twist off cap.

Appearance: When poured into a Bell's Brewery standard pint glass, the beer is a clear light amber color with a white bubbly skim of foam at the top. It had good retention by leaving behind plenty of foamy rings and white lace around the glass. The head of foam almost remained the entire duration of drinking this beer. It reminded me a bit of all that snow on the snow covered cabin that was on label.

Smell: I really got a whiff of bitter citrus hops when I first poured it. When it settled, the bitter citrus hops were still the main focus of the aroma, but behind it was just the slightest aroma of caramel malts in the background. If there was anything else, the citrus hops covered it all up. To me it was really just a one dimensional aroma.

Taste: The taste was just like the smell, almost one dimensional. Except this time the bitter citrus hops were more prominent. It still had the same malt backbone that was in the smell. I did notice that when it warms up a little bit, the citrus hops get even more bitter then what it originally was. It you like drinking nothing but hops, then you'll love the taste of this years Celebration Ale. For me, I like a little more flavor than just citrus hops with little caramel malts.

Mouthfeel: It was medium bodied with a strong aftertaste of bitter citrus hops with a minor taste of alcohol at the end. At one time during the aftertaste, I thought I might had tasted fruits that weren't citrus. That was a surprise to me. It's too bad that it didn't show up in the initial taste.

Drinkability: After drinking craft beer for a couple of years now and even after this beer has over 1,000 reviews, I finally got to try this beer. I thought it was fitting to try now, since it is Christmas now as I right this review. I don't think I would drink this years Celebration Ale any more, but I would like to see how this beer turns out differently every year. If you like to celebrate hops, then this is the beer to do it with. (2,810 characters)

Photo of kinger
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasty brew, but I'm not sure why this recipe would be their winter seasonal. Caught somewhere between a strong ale and an IPA this one has a great medium hop profile, but a generous amount of additional malts could take this through the roof. Mild bitterness to the nose, floral and light fruits backed with some light caramel malt. Copper pour with an amber/red tint, medium head and lacing. Good drinkability but it's thin. Spicy taste with a great hop balance. This warms the body and mellows the mind, it's a nice drink but I was expecting more complexity. (560 characters)

Photo of DarrellK
3.37/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been having Celebration for many years and the 2010 redition is continuing the slide downward over the last couple of years. The aroma is nil, the color is washed out and while the finish has some bitterness evrything else is a shadow of the time when Sierra Nevada brewed like a micro.
I've always been a fan of SN but the trend is toward acting like AB and producing everybody beer, too bad.
This brew is OK for those who want to encourage neophites to better beer but little else. SN go back to your roots! (514 characters)

Photo of Winter
3.37/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured copper in color with an off-white head. Bubbles seen rising through the semi-cloudy liquid. Aroma consisted of hops and sweet fruit. Good carbonation hits the tongue right away followed by the a strong hopiness of this full-bodied brew. A bit of malt in there too and a very bitter, salty finish . A great beer for those who love hops. It also made me realize that not all winter seasonals have to be heavily spiced and sweet. (433 characters)

Photo of lechowski
3.37/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is definitely my favorite batch of SN's Celebration brews. I believe this is the first year that they have fresh-hopped and I think they did a decent job considering the quantity they put out.

A - Beautiful amber color, decent head and good lacing.

S - Not sure if it's just my nose tonight, or the fact that I'm using a pint glass, but I'm having real issues getting a good wiff. Some notes of Cascade and Centennial still coming through though.

T - Strong West-Coast style hoppiness coming through. A bit boozy on the backend however, especially for only being 6.8%

M - Smooth medium body.

O - Nothing to write home about, but still my favorite beer from SN. (671 characters)

Photo of drcarver
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Bright amber color with a large off-white head. Good lacing left by a slowly fading head.

A - A strong smell of hops and alcohol comes with the pour. Not malt or yeast aroma to be found.

T - The flavors are very sharp. SLightly acidic and bitter in the finished. The bitterness hangs in the mouth long after finished.

M - Light bodied. Lively with carbonation

D - Goes down very easily (394 characters)

Photo of TeeCee
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quick Review - yoyu know you're drinking a Sierra Nevada.

Appearance - honey gold like brewed tea. Lots of white head with a hard pour, slow to dissipate, leavng foamy lace as it goes away. I'm drinking this out of a New Belgium globe glass, and the little etched bicycle is doing it's job.

Smell - the fresh piney smell I expect from Sierra Nevada.

Taste - hoppy with some malt behind it, finishing off noticeably bitter. This is the type of beer I think of when I think Sierra Nevada. I've been more impressed with the recent big bottle releases, but to me, this is not as good as those.

Mouthfeel - medium in the mouth. I get a bit of foamy thickness, but not overly foamy.

This beer is rather sessionable, although on the bitter side. (743 characters)

Photo of jcalabre
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Originally samploed on 9 November 2002. I am writing this review from mynotes. This pours a clear harvest gold in color. The flavor has lots of hops on the palate. In my humble opinion, this is not an outstanding beer, but it is far better than average (252 characters)

Photo of lightindarkness
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 release

I've been drinking this most of the winter season and haven't rated it yet. I've noticed in some forums and other reviews that there seems to be some disparity between batches of brew, specifically in terms of bitterness and fullness. The beer I rated, 7316X10[something]13 was pretty bitter.

Pours a deep amber color with a creamy head leaving some generous lace. Smells of hops, soft with a bitter grainy scent. Taste follows the smell basically, with a lot of hops, some bitter pine, etc. Some roundness with a slight sweet smoothness to the hoppy bite. A little malt comes through, but not much. Other tastes kind of come in and out, lemongrass, honey, citrus. I was a little disappointed in the depth and overall character of this beer as a seasonal IPA. A good body with medium fullness, some oily feel and decent combination of smooth/bitter. It's drinkable, but in general I'd pick something else over this. (930 characters)

Photo of Luk13
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle 2008 vintage, consumed 1 year later. Thanks ritzkiss. Beautiful color here, nice hazy red pour. Quite the hop bomb for 1 year old IPA, taste is nicely balanced IPA complex mix of hops and leafs. Surprisingly good for the age and wish I could try a fresh one in the future. (279 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very attractive beer, dark-reddish color with a nice 2 1/2 finger, foamy head that slowly dissipated and left some chunky lacing. Pretty nice.

S - Very hoppy with a decent amount of malt backing. I'll be honest, I never bothered to realize that this was an IPA, so the hops kind of surprised me. Little dark fruit in there too.

T - It's good, but I felt a little let down. Hops, with some malts, not sure I ever really like malts in my IPAs. Decent citrus, slight pine, pretty bitter on the finish.

M - Light to medium bodied with some nice carbonation that leaves the mouth decently refreshingly.

D - Fairly easy to drink, but unless I'm in a real hops type of mood is hard to put down more than one of. (712 characters)

Photo of Ruslanchik
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I first had this beer two years ago when I was into craft beers, but not fully appreciating them yet. I drank a whole sixer out of the bottle. I missed so much of the value of the brew by not being able to smell it...

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. A medium pour reveals a big head--three fingers of off-white fluff that threatens to overflow the glass. Retention is awesome and lacing encircles the entire glass. The beer is amber and just a bit hazy.

Aroma is big-time hops. There are traces of pine, grapefruit, and soap. There is also something that smells slightly off. It smells just a bit like rotten vegetables.

The flavor is very bitter--pucker your face, taste buds running for cover bitter. If there are another other hop flavors they are suppressed by the bitterness. There is also a metallic taste that comes through after the bitterness. No real malt character.

Mouthfeel is very nice. Just a little bit thick, a little bit oliy. The mouth is left coated slightly. Carbonation is medium to high.

I used to be a major hop-head, but I can feel that fading. I am wishing now that I had a malty brew to follow this one with. It is a good IPA, but not a session beer. (1,191 characters)

Photo of cjhofelt
3.36/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass, this beer has a deep orange bronze color with a dense tan head that thins out to a creamy film and leaves substantial lacing.

The smell is pretty typical of an American IPA. A very nice Hop boquet. Nothing special there.

Taste is also pretty typical of the style. Sweet and hoppy in the front, with a bitter hop sting in the finish. There's a bit of lingering spice, too, at the end. It's tasty enough.

Great body to this beer. It has a very satisfying mouthfeel.

I like this beer a lot, for what it is. It's not something I'd drink a lot of or have with a meal. It's more of a "slow drinkin' , sittin' by the fire" kind of brew. (669 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Heard all the hype so I picked it up. Giving Sierra Nevada another chance to impress me. 6.80% ABV confirmed for the 2012 batch. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap acquired at BevMo! and served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are fairly high given the hype, but I'm skeptical.

Served refrigerator cold. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger beige colour head of nice thickness and cream, and good retention for the above average ABV. Body colour is a fairly vibrant copper-amber. Semitransparent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Decent lacing.

Sm: Toasted amber malts, cream, floral hops, caramel, murky tangerine, and cloying sweetness. Surprisingly malty; I expected an overly hoppy bright aroma. I see now why it's a winter beer. Shaping up to be quite nice so far. An average strength aroma.

T: Pleasant floral hops until the climax, where the hop bitterness breaks through naked, without anything to help hide it. Pleasant toasted malt foundation, with even some cherry fruit up front. Too bitter in the third act, destroying the balance of both the flavour profile and the structure. Nice interplay between hops and malts but the finish just tanks it. I do like it, but I wish the last third could just be snipped away. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Some murky grapefruit and tangerine; I suspect citra hops. Where's the bright crisp citrus and pine that I want? It's nowhere to be found here. Drinks like a decently hopped winter warmer. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Mf: Too dry and coarse in the third act, but pleasantly smooth and wet up front. A bit sticky and chewy. Good thickness and carbonation. Good presence. Clean.

Dr: Quite drinkable, especially considering the above average ABV. It's an enjoyable little seasonal, but current ratings are obscenely high given the quality here. I'm glad I have a six pack, and I'd try this on draught, but I doubt I'll pick up any next year. A solid macrobrew IPA for what it is, but don't expect it to live up to its current ratings. At this price point and availability, I can see why it makes it into so many refrigerators. But its severe lack of balance really holds it back.

01/24/15: I found the 2014 vintage much more balanced and enjoyable. It had a great hop-forward flavour profile with ample complexity for the style and ABV. I found myself buying multiple 6-packs over the course of the season.


High C+ (2,584 characters)

Photo of Longstaff
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A classic for sure and something I drink cases and cases of each year. What I love about this beer is that every batch seems slightly different but yet is always drinkable and satisfying. And should be applauded for being accessible and affordable in today's race to be the rarest and most expensive.

But the latest batch I am drinking (0278xxxx)sometimes gives me hints of phenolic character hiding behind the intensity of the hops. Just putting this out there in case others might have experienced this and are afraid to say so due to the overwhelming majority of excellent reviews. I'm not even sure if its just me as sometimes I can detect it and sometimes not. More research necessary. Otherwise this is a near 5.0 beer. (726 characters)

Photo of badenglishihave
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Typical IPA. Wonderful thick head and white lacing, looks better as you drink it.
S: Citrusy and dry, lots of hops presence.
T: Initial bite and then the hops hit you hard. After that subsides you get a tinge of spices, cinnamon/nutmeg. IPA's aren't my favorite but I can appreciate this as a good example of its kind.
M: Smooth and foamy... almost too foamy, but not bad enough to be unpleasant.
D: Pretty easy on the tummy; plus relatively low ABV for an IPA.

Not really up my alley but a good holiday IPA. (550 characters)

Photo of craytonic
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 version

Appearance: Shiny copper penny with nice chill-haze

Smell: Hops with a touch of spiceness and grapefruit

Taste: Hops with a touch of bread/caramel from the malt

Mouthfeel: Standard, neither outstanding or lacking

Drinkability: Its an IPA, would drink it for free but would not actively seek it out. (316 characters)

Photo of Prufrock
3.34/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

bottle poured into a pilsner.

slightly hazy copper with a half inch of foamy white head. little lacing.

smells like hops and hops; herbs and grapefruit rinds. malty sweetness peeks through as the beer warms.

light-medium mouthfeel. a touch of caramel up front, but washed over with an herbal bitterness that dominates the aftertaste.

overall a nice IPA, but i'm not sure what makes this a "Celebration" ale or why there's a snow-covered house on the bottle. seems more fit for summer. (496 characters)

Photo of chaswisler
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Beautiful orange / copper color. Evenly distributed, carbonation raising at just the right pace.

S - Spices and lots of bittering hops. It's bark is worse then it's bite.

T - From the smell I expected a bigger taste. But the spices hit you right up front. The bitter spikes immediately then subsides with a little bit of malt.

M - Nice middle of the road, not to light or to heavy.

D - I could probably do 2 maybe 3, but then I think I would get bored with it. (468 characters)

Photo of dbalsock
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Light to medium amber with substantial head, off white in color. It looked pretty especially the foamy top.

Smell: Grapefruit, perfume, pine and a light malt background make up the aroma.

Tastte: Very intense grapefruit leads to an aftertaste of grapenuts. It's not as floral as I expected, but retains the piney notes from the aroma. It's not nearly as balanced as I like and doesn't stand out from the other CA IPAs.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly bitter in an unsatisfying way, but it does cover up the alcohol.

Drinkability: I find this to be slowgoing, and I don't think I'll make it through the whole six pack, before I find someone to give it to. (668 characters)

Photo of rickyleepotts
3.32/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

It's not Christmas time, but we are drinking a bottle of Celebration Ale. We actually tried this in a beer class at Total Wine & More, and I wasn't impressed. It tasted like an IPA. I had a conversation the other night on Google+ about this beer aging well. Normally an IPA won't age… especially with such a low ABV. He said it gets better… maybe next year I will grab a few bottles and throw them in the cellar. I still have a hard time believing it will age well, but we'll see! Maybe the Scottsdale Total Wine has a few bottles left. I will check the next time I am in.

Good thing I like hoppy beers, because all I remember about this are the hops. Time to drink!

In the Glass: When we did this beer in the beer class, there were several other beers we were tasting. 13 beers total. Perhaps that wrecked my palate a little bit. I will say, I do not remember it looking this thick and creamy in the glass. It produces a very nice, thick creamy head that I want to eat with a spoon! There is also a lovely lace that hangs on to the side of the glass as I swirl it around a little. Looks like a lot of bubbles are rushing to the surface, and it leaves a nice copper color.

Nose: Smells like hops! I remember talking about this beer being nothing special. It's not. At least when I smell it. I wouldn't be able to consider this a winter beer just based on the aroma. It smells like hops. Maybe the flavor profile has changed since I last had this.

Flavor: Nope. Tastes like an IPA. The hops they use are good, but this beer is nothing to write home about. Imagine licking a pine cone… that is the hop profile I am getting from this. Not a bad beer by any means, but not worthy of the "winter warmer" classification. They should brew this all year and change the name/label.

Mouthfeel: The beer has a little bit of carbonation up front, then it mellows out as you swallow. There is a nice biting dryness toward the finish that lingers on the back of the palate. This would be a beer I could easily drink 6 of and not even realize I was drinking beer. (The burp is nice, too. Those same earthy hop flavors come rushing back to the surface.)

Aftertaste: I like hoppy beers, and generally because of the aftertaste. The aftertaste here is somewhat dry, and then the hoppy flavors hang on. It's not overwhelming, but the aftertaste is a typical expectation from an average IPA.

Like I said, this should NOT be a seasonal release. Sierra Nevada is better than that. But for a guy that likes hops, it is a good beer. By the way, the label calls this a fresh hop IPA… and I generally don't like fresh hopped beers. I would like to see them do another version of this and either double the ABV (consider it an imperial IPA) or barrel age it. They just released the barrel aged Bigfoot, so they have some barrels sitting around! (2,836 characters)

Photo of chilly460
3.31/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Body is a pleasant hazy golden brown color. Huge billowing head that stuck around like a scoop of ice cream on the top of a float, impressive. Great lacing.

S - I get a different hop profile than expected here, more dank and earthy hops. Like rotting grass, but not in an unpleasant way.

T - Strong earthy, hops, somewhat astringent. Pretty one dimensional, but the flavor profile is strong.

M - Medium bodied with plenty of carbonation.

O - The dank earthy hops just aren't my preference, beer is solid but one dimensional. (536 characters)

Photo of aforbes10
3.31/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sixer from a liquor store in Dixon, CA. Pours a hazy brownish red with a short white head and sticky lacing. Caramel malt and slightly stale hop odor. Flavor is a big blast of bitter, lemony hops and sweet, biscuity malt. Bitterness lingers for a long time. Kind of sticky mouthfeel. Drinks ok, but a little boring. I've liked Celebration a lot in the past, especially on draft, but something about this year's batch or the bottling or something just isn't all that great. (472 characters)

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,290 ratings.