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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.

7,902 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 7,902
Reviews: 3,159
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.54%
Wants: 220
Gots: 488 | 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: 7,902 | Reviews: 3,159 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beergeek279
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was golden, with a thick, creamy head. The smell was very lightly hoppy. The taste wasn't the overwhelming hop boutique I expected. Rather than the citrus taste I'm used to, the hop taste was rather dry...almost like a dry hopping. Mouthfeel was smooth. As for drinkability, could have a few more.

I just wasn't as overwhelmed by this beer as most people seemed to be. It's not bad in any way, it's just not up there with my favorite IPAs (HopDevil, Ruination, etc.). Still, I'd probably give it another try.

beergeek279, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of ManekiNeko
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Dr. Dremo's.

Appearance: Clear light amber colored liquid with an offwhite head, quite frothy. Head quickly dissipates to a film after a short time and leaves a wonderful bit of IPA-typical lacing.

Smell: Thick and juicy piney hops balanced by robust grapefruit citrus aromas. Malt makes an appearance. Overall, great balance.

Taste: A salty bitter taste initially. Hops give way to some decent malt flavors. Grapefruit notes throughout.

Mouthfeel: Solid medium body, vaguely creamy with a modicum of astringency from all the hoppy goodness.

Drinkability: An excellent offering. SN Celebration is basically SNPA on steroids. A beer worth wishing the onset of winter for.

ManekiNeko, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of nomad
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a reddish amber, what I would call a beautiful iridiscent color. Had a bubbly pocky foam falling to a thin and sudsy head, and not always much lace. A wonderful color, though.

Smelled of sweet grapefruit with spikes of pine attached to it, like a syrupy hop juice. Great caramel malt in the background. Overall, for me this beer had the presence of when you're cooking a good piece food and it starts releasing its fresh essentials oils - that's what the wonderful hop presence smelled like. Always in front of a setting sun of rosy waves.

Taste was of a delectable bitterness: juicy, tart, cutting, and with abundantly high-grade freshness, it was all propped up on a rosy juice flavor. Had some lemon flavors right before the finish, like biting into a wonderfully balanced hop juice. The beer settled well with opening and my tastebuds adjusting to the bitterness. After getting used to this beer I noticed a masterful amber ale flavored malt, bordering on rosy but made even more spiky that big ol' bitter.

Nice drinkable mouthfeel, I call this the star of Sierra Nevada. I crave having this beer around through the cooler months.

nomad, Nov 05, 2003
Photo of HardTarget
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 vintage, sampled Nov. 2003
Aroma: Citric pine hops swirl from the top
Appearance: Red tinged orange with some chill haze frosting the glass, topped with a snow-covered head that slowly melts down the side leaving icicles of lace
Flavor: You have been good this year, St. Nick has brought many hops for you to enjoy, backed with just enough hearty malt to keep the fresh pine hop taste, but stave off the bitter cold
Mouthfeel: cheerful, bubbly warmth that refreshes and soothes
Overall Impression: Even though it’s 87 degrees outside, this beer summoned the Christmas spirit in me. It warmed me with its potent alcohol level, cheered me with its color and lace, and impressed me with a full hop taste but no impulse to pucker. I’m a fairly rabid hophead, but the intensity of the taste and the potent alcohol kick (which is felt much more than tasted) cuts back on drinkability. Like Christmas, part of the magic is in the rarity of the experience. Paired it with a smoked Gouda cheese, which complimented it well. Recommended.

HardTarget, Nov 05, 2003
Photo of dweideman
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at Anam Cara on 11/4/03

Poured a frothy average size white head. Clear amber hue. Moderate malt and moderate-heavy hopped aroma. Initial flavor had hints of apricot, vanilla and spices. Finish was well balanced between sweet-bitter with the distinct chinook hop staying on the palate for quite a while. Medium body with a dry texture and lively carbonation.

"This is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, this is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on hops". Great representation of an IPA.

dweideman, Nov 05, 2003
Photo of budgood1
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


my first celebration!

pours out a hazy bright amber colour...slight and tight off white head and lots of festive lace. looks delicious. huge hop aroma...spruce and pine...followed by a citrus punch. a x-mas tree jammed into every bottle. the taste is all about the bitterness and the hop load that provides every perceiveable angle at hop nirvana. cascade hops run roughshod over my taste buds. a bit harsh for non IPA lovers but just right for me. malt backbone is ample and telling, but seemingly meek and mild in comparison to the sensory overload that is the mighty hop. mouthfeel full and explosively bitter. finish is zesty and hopliciously bitter. i can see why this is a classic beer to age just for the intrigue that surrounds what this ale could morph into.

as it is fresh and full of gusto...it is unbalanced and extremely bitter. delicious nonetheless. because a steady supply of SN has finally reached my area, i will be buying as much of this as i can to drink this holiday season and a bunch more to lay down and age for future reference. wow is this a killer IPA.

budgood1, Nov 04, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SNCA 2003

Appearance: Immaculatey forms with deep copper amber tone and a two finger sized cream colored head leaves behind scattered lacing very nice brew. Aroma: This one doesn't take you by the hand, it just wallops you with cascades and a huge layered malt profile, floral and piney with a caramel malt like sweet scent this one is amazing. Taste: Well, I this beer and I met early in my beer journey a few years back when I was first getting into beers I ran into this on tap in Fuel and Fuddle in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. To this point my brother Dante' and friend Kolby had tried many different beers together, however after ordering the SNCA my bro and friend were totally turned off making statements like "this tastes like pine sol" and "that's overkill on the hops" well I am proud to say I didn't have that reaction. I absolutely love this beer from the first time I tasted it. Cascades slide upon the palate with an oily resin given them their lubricant capable of being so silky and smooth, while the hops do steal the show I still find this one balanced enough with caramel sweet sticky maltiness so good. Mouthfeel: Perfect carbonation, hop burps come after only three or four sips medium bodied well textured I love it. Drinkability: Definitely need to pick up a case of this beer this coming winter enough hops and malt to keep me happy for a long time.

WVbeergeek, Nov 03, 2003
Photo of leeenglewood
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 batch kind of weird seeing poinsettias on Halloween but oh well. Dark amber color with a head that is bubbly and coats the glass to the last drop. Smells of sweet version of pine resin very hoppy. Hops come threw full bore in the initial taste but a slight malt sweetness comes threw on the aftertaste. Not being a real hophead I fully appreciate this beer for it gives one of the best tastes of a truly hoppy beers where everything tastes like it is unison.

leeenglewood, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of Dmann
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

In my opinion, this is the perfect beer. I had this baby on tap for the first time tonight and was blown away. It has a beautiful dark red/amber colour with a nice white head that left great lace down the whole glass. The smell was great;the hops jumped right out at you and did not let go, and the citric bite was prevelant as well. the taste was pure beer goodness with the perfect mixture of hop bitterness and a touch of malty sweetness to balance it out. There were also great citric flavors in there and it was not really dry tasting like a lot of IPA type beers are, but it was very very drinkable. If you can find this brew on tap or in the bottle, you will definantly be hooked!

Dmann, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of edchicma
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hopheads paradise brew. Excellent cloudy copper appearance, with a chunky head that laces nicely. Oustanding smell, citrusy with strong hop presence. Taste is pure hops straight forward and delicious. Aftertaste remains nicely in its bitterness. A slight puckery mouthfeel reminds you of the hop presence. Very drinkable for a high abv and hyper hops.

edchicma, Nov 01, 2003
Photo of alexgash
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I sure was glad to see a new beer at the Utah State Liquor Store, especially one as delicious as this. 2003 edition. Amber/copper body with a sticky, light tan head. Very good retention. Smells of some maltiness, but mostly hops, hops, and hops. Very resiny and sprucy. Very appetizing as well. Taste reveals more malt than the smell. Not too sweet, but good body to balance the crazy hops. Very resiny, piney, spicy, and medicinal. As the beer warmed, I swear I was tasting some hints of nutmeg as well. A crescendo of Xmas tree bitterness lingers into the finish. Very good, but not my favorite high-octane IPA. Big and oily mouthfeel, and pretty drinkable for its strength and bitterness.

alexgash, Oct 31, 2003
Photo of hungryghost
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was super surprised to see this on tap last week. In October no less!
Celebration is a good amber color, maybe a little darker than the regular Sierra pale ale. Frothy, white head stays around for a bit.
Smell is good, hoppiness for sure, some citrus, malt.
Hoppy through and through, strongly bittered, but not over the top. I get a hint of sweet as it goes down, nice to round out the taste and mouthfeel. You are not left with a bitter aftertaste.
This is a really good one, especially on tap. Since it has the high ABV, I usually have maybe two pints, move on to something else and call it a nite.

hungryghost, Oct 31, 2003
Photo of jermar
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Anam Cara. Tasted very similar to last year's offering (of which me and my wife consumed probably 5 cases). Just looking now for a local package store that has the cases in stock for under $30. A wonderful hoppiness with enough malt body to support it. Nice russet/orange color and aromatics.

jermar, Oct 26, 2003
Photo of rkhaze
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 Edition. Always look forward to this one. A winter classic!
Poured an orange/amber color with a rich thick white head that left good sticky lace.
Dynamite aroma. BIG hops, fresh, citrusy and spicy. Some sweet malt in the background.
The taste is fresh hops upfront with an almost pine/spruce oiliness. Some sweet malt and caramel in the middle, finishing with that spicy, pungent grapefruit aftertaste that I love Sierra for. It's been better balanced in previous years. A hopheads delight

Nice mouthfeel and carbonation. Rich, full and a creamy lemon tanginess. Excellent drinkability.
Year after year, a great offering from Sierra. A little less balanced than previous years but if you like your hops to punch first and ask questions later, then this is a beer for you. Highly recommended!

rkhaze, Oct 23, 2003
Photo of RootedFool
4.78/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 edition.

Pours solid amber with a bright white head that receded quickly leaving lace like falling swaths of snow.

Smell is complex. Hops intermingling with spices my novice tongue could not quite identify; lemony, bready, behind the strong hops and alcohol that is warming to the tongue.

Mouthfeel is creamy, hearty, and perfectly carries the intricate taste and smell.

I'm looking forward to drinking more of this while it lasts. It's only October, so I have awhile to go. I think this is the first review of the 2003 edition, and it's also my first ever beer review!

RootedFool, Oct 17, 2003
Photo of Rumrunner
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle. 2002 Vintage.

An excellent hoppy beer with enough crispness for me to wish it was snowing in southern California right now.

This ale pours a deep burnt amber color. A good white head and okay lacing. The scents are a fight for dominence. At first the hops attack the nose and are quite controlling. Some sweet lemon grass are present with a dry quality on the nose. There is a secondary caramel malt and sweetness that slowly follow this up. There is no real balance. It is just one smell after the other.

The flavors start with a dry burnt hoppy flavor. Some bitter citrus and a medium rind flavor. A bready and sweet malt follow the hops but are no match. The hops are dominant. There is a dry sweet vermouth finish. The alcohol is very present but it does not disrupt the flavors.

This is a very smooth drinker. It has some oily qualities but they do not hinder the enjoyment of this IPA. Very crisp and dry on the palate. Very nicely done.

Rumrunner, Oct 13, 2003
Photo of soilguy
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 vintage - Nice big hoppy aroma is a most noticeable feature. The color is a golden amber - very small head when poured. Has a nice malty sweetness that is immediately offset by a citrusy hop bite. This follows into a pungent aftertaste. The mouthfeel is nice and full. I can hardly wait for the 2003 version!

soilguy, Sep 27, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rating is for 2002 version .Medium gold color, large foamy head. Hoppy spicy aroma. Malty and very aggressively hopped. Malts are slightly sweet and balance the big bold hops well. Think this year's version is better than the 2000 edition. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is bitter, Bid bodied IPA. Really nice. Well age well I think. 2000 vintage- Medium brown color, small head. Medium malts, aggressively hopped ale. Full flavor, full mouthfeel, nearly chewy. Good hop to malt balance. Finish is crisp. Aftertaste is bitter.

beerguy101, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of Gueuzedude
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ok, I freely admit it I am extremely biased when it comes to this beer. I used to buy cases of this stuff every year. I finally broke down and started to buy a keg of it instead. The first time I had this it absolutely blew me away. The hops where so intense so fresh the just screamed to break free from the confines of the bottle. This beer is definitely best when fresh, because it is all about the hop flavor and aroma. The hops lend a wonderful spicy citrusy greatness to this beer. And wonderfully the brewers saw fit to outfit this paragon with a solid malt backbone that just carries and delivers the hop celebration to every corner of your mouth. Just a plain awesome beer.

Gueuzedude, Sep 20, 2003
Photo of ellman
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Cellared

Appearance: Amber in color witha slight hazyness, nise full head that did not fade.

Smell: mmm. hops some spices. hops did i say hops. cellared it and still mmm hops

Taste: full body mmm hops.

Drinkability: Could drink alot if i had it. but in short supply

ellman, Sep 17, 2003
Photo of indiapaleale
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 - Pour - Light amber almost golden in appearance. Nice clean, clear pour with a big fluffy white head. Looking pretty damn good.

Aroma - Fresh pine along with lots of citrus such as lemons and oranges. Not so much the pineapple or grapefruit like some other West Coast IPAs. Very nice floral hop profile with just a touch of heat from the alcohol percentage involved.

Taste - Tongue and nose tinglingly hoppy. Plenty of piney goodness for which this beer has become known. The bitterness is right there from the start followed by a decent amount of malty sweetness to even things out. Very crisp and dry in the finish.

Overall - Very solid IPA. This is a pretty classic hops forward California IPA that has been around much longer than most other American IPAs. Big hoppy flavor with an ABV that warms the stomach nicely.

Would I buy more of it? - Yes, yes I would. I'll be buying some every year for the rest of my life probably.

Note: This year, 2009, marks the first time Sierra Nevada has released its Celebration Ale in their signature 24 oz. bottles. Perfect for sharing with a good friend on a cold night and also great for storing away for next winter to do a little side by side comparison with a fresh bottle.

Vintage: This bottle rolled of the line on Friday, October 2nd, 2009.

2008 - Pour - Dark amber and slightly hazy. There might be some suspended yeast making this a bit murky. Time has definitely taken the clarity away from the '08. The off-white head however is very thick and quite impressive.

Aroma - Burnt sugar/caramel is the big dominating smell. This is some malty stuff with a very slight hint of citrus. The hops have all but gone away. Reminds me of a Barleywine almost.

Taste - As far as flavor goes, this may smell like a Barleywine but the taste is more like a Scottish Ale. Big malty sweetness with only a tiny bit of bitterness in the finish. It has an apple cider thing going on and all the fresh, piney hop flavors have long been diminished.

Overall - After a year this has become a whole new monster. Malty sweetness has replaced bitter hoppiness and morphed this into something akin to a Scottish Ale or a Barleywine. The hops may be long gone but this is still a very drinkable beer. The past year has really smoothed things out. Definitely a delicious beer but I prefer the fresh stuff.

Would I buy more of it? - Absolutely, although this vintage is no longer available as the 2009 bottles have now hit the shelves. I may have to put away several of the 09s for 3 or 4 years down the road.

Note: Celebration Ale is the second highest selling beer for Sierra Nevada, falling behind only the almighty Pale Ale in volume sold. I can't seem to lock down a date in which Sierra Nevada first released their Celebration Ale but it was sometime back in the early 80s. Anyone know the answer?

Vintage: This bottle rolled off the line on Friday, October 17th, 2008.

2002-Crisp and intensely hoppy. A nice clean light amber color with floral scents and almost a bitter lemon feel. It leaves the tongue beat up with hops, but you need to go in expecting that. I really like this stuff and am glad it changes both every year it is made as well as every year it ages.

1996-Very malty in taste, that hoppiness that is so present in the unaged stuff is gone. It is a darker amber color with many complex flavors. Sample as many years as you can, its a great beer to put aside and let age.

indiapaleale, Sep 10, 2003
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of my all time favorite beers. A beer that screams with hop flavor, like someone squeezed a grapefruit in the bottle. The chinook, centennial and cascade hops stand up proud for sure. This beer also has a very stiff malt backbone that makes the beer very enjoyable overall...and quite drinkable...just don't drink it first in a flight cause it will ruin you.

cerevisiaephilus, Aug 21, 2003
Photo of beerinator
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Amber, light tan head.

Aroma: Hoppy Aroma, more piney than citrusy, but citrus is present as well.

Taste: Very balanced. The hops follow the malt sweetness and the two merge on the tongue.

Notes: In my opinion this beer gains nothing from aging. It's perfectly balanced now. I've tried one aged 6 years or so lately, and while it was still good, it had lost most of its hoppy characteristics. Find something to celebrate about this year, and buy a case or two!

beerinator, Aug 13, 2003
Photo of bierman2000
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A strong IPA that is almost like a Winter Ale, very smooth yet hoppy in the final taste. Copper colored with the smell of floral and hops that are strong in the nose.. a nice winter ale that is warming and actually grows smoother as the beer gets warmer.

bierman2000, Jul 14, 2003
Photo of Mustard
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12ox. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best buy" date; $6/6 pack from Signature Wine and Spirits in Santa Monica; label's bucolic Christmas imagery makes me wish I weren't Jewish; 2002 batch.

Appearance: Pours a deep, clear copper; beautiful 1"-1.5" off-white/pale-orange head; said head hangs around for the ride; heavy, intricate, sheet lacing. Pretty beer.

Aroma: Large dollop of cirtus hops may smack your nose, but honey-sweet malt undertones not to be denied.

Taste: Vibrant grapefruit-like hops compliment a delicious caramel malt backbone; floral notes abound; subtle traces of orange lurk in the background. Suitably carbonated with a nice, full mouthfeel.

Notes: Beautiful, well-balanced IPA. Mustard says drink.

Mustard, Jul 14, 2003
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 7,902 ratings.