Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
3,465 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
sierra-nevada.com

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Winter

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-02-2001

BEER STATS
Reviews:
3,465
Ratings:
10,193
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
11.57%
 
 
Wants:
374
Gots:
1,934
For Trade:
1
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 3,465 | Ratings: 10,193
Reviews by Ajbradsher:
Photo of Ajbradsher
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of bassboneman
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

I remember having this beer last year. I loved it then and I love it now!
The only issue I have is that the finish, to me, is slightly MORE bitter than I recall.
I am drinking this first brew of the season from the bottle - the next will be in a glass
Up yours!

Sam

 266 characters

Photo of Beers-es
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a month-old bottle, pours a clear, deep copper. An inch of dense, off-white foam leaves lots of lacing.

Smell has an earthy quality along with hints of pine and grapefruit. Some malt on the nose as well. Taste is spicy, earthy hops balanced by the malt. Nice dry bitter finish. Feel is substantial but very drinkable.

Overall, this is an long-time favorite of mine, which I first enjoyed probably 30 years ago. Still really good, though what was cutting edge then has become an old-school classic. Like the Beatles, it's hard to explain how revolutionary Sierra Nevada's beers were back then, when all you had before were kegs of Bud and skunky green-glass imports. Crazy.

 681 characters

Photo of tectactoe
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Just finished my last Celebration of the season. Time to rewrite this review. Pours a deep copper-amber hybrid color with some orange highlights. An absolutely huge, beige-colored head tops this one off - incredibly thick and creamy with extraordinary staying power, also coating all sides of the glass with fat, chunky lacing. Decent clarity, and you can see a nice stream of carbonation bubbles flowing from the etched bottom of my glass to the top of the brew.

The aroma is strong, with a super-fresh dose of hops. Sierra Nevada claims that these are "fresh" hops (not wet, mind you, but fresh) and you can definitely tell. It's like sticking your head into a recently cut field of grass, vibrant and alive. The character of these hops is largely resinous, piney, and somewhat floral. The pine aromas hit your nostrils with some power, very needley and pungent. Faint citrus hints, more so on the rind and pith side, as to not make things too sweet, rather keep with the solid bitterness profile. Some spiciness from the hops is also noticeable and works to tie everything together.

The taste is crazy delicious - despite the heavy load of hops, there is certainly a strong malt presence here that does more than just lay out framework for the other parts. Slight toasted malts, caramel, toffee, and a faint, musky, earthy presence can be found immediately. As soon as you start to appreciate this nice, malt-laden infrastructure (or maybe even before that), the hops come in and go buck wild on your palate. Pines, pine needles, resinous hop nuggets, Christmas trees, Christmas wreathes - yeah, I said it. Christmas wreathes.

The malt profile is ever-present for the duration of the hop take-over, which creates a nice cosmic balance, despite the hefty bitter overload of the hops. The spice character is not to be forgotten - there's a joke going around that SN adds spices to this beer, which they've debunked as false many times. But I can see where people are coming from. A nice, peppery, earthy, and warming "hop spice" flavor trills along for the entire sip, riding a wave right into the aftertaste. I really can't overstate how goddamn tasty this shit is. Medium bodied, carbonated to the max; not too sticky, not too dry, this beer is great in all aspects.

Whether you call this a malty IPA, or a hopped-up amber/red ale, or a winter warmer, or whatever - it doesn't matter. Call it a stout for all I care. Just know that this beer is delicious. And the fact that it's a seasonal release around my favorite time of the year (the joyous bridge from Thanksgiving to Christmas) gets me that much more excited to pick it up each year. The holidays would not be complete without this beer in my fridge. I always try to make it last far into the spring - usually doesn't make it that long.

 2,801 characters

Photo of Ahypercube
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Always enjoy seeing this one on the shelves this time of year. A reliable classic from one of my favorite breweries; the price to quality ratio is just damn impressive. From a 12 oz bottle into a chalice:

L: Pours with a beautiful brownish amber color and about one finger of fluffy beige head, with very fine bubbles. Carbonation persists fervently and the lacing forms very attractive wavy rings around the glass. Beautiful. I'll call this a 5.

S: Piney, peppery and a little sour, with a rich malt profile--including toasty french bread and nutty oat notes.

T: This is the second time I have been surprised with how tasty this beer is. One of the few IPAs I have tried that opens with malt flavors (which I strongly appreciate): the first that hits me is a caramelly sweetness, which immediately blends with bitter-piney and peppery-spicy hop oil, but is fought back against by complex roasted barley malt profile. Nothing fruity about this beer, but I certainly don't miss the overdose of grapefruit rind I find in almost every west coast IPA.

F: Perfect. Thick but not sticky, carbonated but not frothy, smooth but not oily. An expert balance.

O: Perhaps the most affordable seasonal beer worth getting excited over. Cheers!

 1,234 characters

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

Balanced? No way. But who gives a rat's ass? 2001 is something to kick the Winter into gear, with its incredible raw hopped character and warming alcohol. A beer to look forward to, regardless. I do recall previous years being more pronounced in the malt dept. and more balanced. But hey, whatever. Drink a few of these and nothing will really matter.

To give this year's a perfect 5 is a little extreme. Everything was great overall, the drinkability ... like crack. I'm off to the pawn shop ...

Notes from 2000:

Presentation: 12oz short brown twist cap bottle. Lovely little X-mas scene on the label. Bottled on date, on neck of bottle.

Appearance: Rich, deep amber/copper. Excellent slightly off-white head ... very creamy, sticky and retains like its fighting for its life.

Smell: There's an absolutely incredible aroma on this beer! A nose full of big herbal hops and fruity esters. Some yeast aromas are also present, but very minimal.

Taste: Dreamy. So smooth. So rich. So fortified with malt goodness. So hoppy. At first there's a creamy feel on the palate, that then opens up to toasty, sweet malt flavours. A bold herbal hop runs rampid on the palate with a semi-prickly, puckering, lemon-rind quality. After a few more mouthfulls the brew begins to warm the body, and you can really feel the alcohol kick in. Finishes a bit dry with grain/husk flavours, and some breadiness as it warms.

Notes: At 6.8% this is one hell of a Winter seasonal! Warms the body and soul. A brew for hop heads too. One of the best Winter Seasonals that I have ever had, and one of the best Strong Ales. Drink with caution as this brew will kick your ass.

 1,649 characters

Photo of Glengosch
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I seem to remember this beer being called Celebration Ale in years past, now it's called Celebration IPA, and hey, IPAs are all the rage, so why not call it that? But on to the taste and stuff...

*Taste - The flavor of this beer is primo, superb, deluxe, fasmatasmic - or some other word that is better than good. Seriously. One of my favorites. In a blind taste test, I don't know that I would know that this is an IPA. Normally with an IPA, (a good IPA) I am punched in the face with pine or floral citrus (and I don't mean that in a bad way). This here ale is the perfect balance that makes it almost unrecognizable in the field of American IPAs. Maybe it solidifies itself ahead of the rest.

On the back end, it's like you get the bitterness without the burn - if that makes sense(?). I guess what I'm trying to say is the taste is as pleasant as the minimal aftertaste.

You get a good balance of maltiness too. Bonus.

As far as taste/flavor is concerned, it's hard to find better.

*Smell - it smells great, but I taste the hops more than I smell them.

*Feel - it feels good. Smooth. Easy to drink with a high ABV.

*Look - Amberish/goldenish/a little darker than a Sam Adams BL (for your reference)

*Overall/bottom line - Depending on what I'm in the mood for, probably my favorite beer. Great hop taste, balanced with some (great) malt taste. Do yourself a favor, if you like beer, and drink this. You're welcome.

 1,429 characters

Photo of mirp1
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Celebration Ale is one of the first holiday beers ever released in the U.S. I first had it many years ago, and was blown away by it's classy simplicity. It struck me as an in-your-face, rock solid craft beer, having no intentions on faking anyone out. I looked forward to it's annual November release, and not just for the quality of the beer, but also for the striking holiday-winter theme packaging. Like many reviewers, I have had all kinds of beer over the years, from EKU 28, to Scaldis, to Heady Topper, Pliny the Elder, Ghandi Bot, Hi Res, KBS, Bourbon County Stout/Barley Wine, Bells Hop Slam/Mars, Seeking Alpha, Flower Power, Creeker, etc, etc. Consequently, my palate is conditioned to not be as impressed as I was with the more regular craft beers of the world. When I was told last week that Celebration Ale was now in stock at local beer stores here in Utica, NY, I quickly went out and grabbed some. Modern holiday beers have become spice crazy, and so have jumped the shark. Celebration Ale is that rock solid holiday craft beer that never sold out. Great color, malty, crisp, with cascade, centennial, and chinook. Nuff said.

 1,147 characters

Photo of Skrumpy
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I have been drinking this beer every holiday season for decades, & this years batch was excellent as usual. Coppery colored with a tan, foamy head. Streak lacing. Aroma is light citrus and tropical fruit with some caramel malt. Citrus and pine and some grass notes, well balanced with a sweet malt base. Medium body with a dry finish. Pleasant hops aftertaste. A great holiday tradition

 393 characters

Photo of foglemgs
4.87/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

An excellent winter ale! Next to Torpedo, this is probably my favorite offering from Sierra Nevada. They don't try to dress this seasonal brew up (as other brewers do) with too many different flavors. Sierra Nevada sticks to what they're good at: hops, and it's damn tasty.

 273 characters

Photo of Jeff_whitman
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Does not drink like a wet hopped beer. Its missing the fresh hop smell and flavor. Not a bad beer but it wasnt great either.

126 characters

Photo of peabody81
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

I have enjoyed this beer many times over the years, but this year is the first that Sierra Nevada has been local to North Carolina, so I've never had one this fresh before. Bottled on 9/26/14.
Aroma: piney, but not overwhelmingly so
Appearance: very nice orangey-amber-brown with delicate lacing
Mouthfeel: just right, not too watery, but not chewy either (not that there's anything wrong with that)
Taste: More balanced than I remember, but my hop tolerance is so high now that what would be insanely bitter to others is meh to me. Leaves a very nice, just the right amount of bitterness, aftertaste. Very drinkable.
Overall: One of the all-time classics, getting it fresh - BONUS!!!!

 685 characters

Photo of HorseheadsHopHead
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours our clear copper. In the glass, a slightly hazy, translucent amber with visible streams of bubbles. The head is tight, slightly creamy, and beige. The retention is fairly good, but dies down somewhat after a minute. The lacing is excellent, though. Sticky and splotchy.

S: Bright and hoppy; spruce tip and pine sap, lots of grapefruit flesh and peel, spicy with an almost minty herbal thing, and then a solid malt backbone that is both caramelly and toasty.

T: Like biting into a grapefruit. The bitterness and the oils of the peel and pith, and the juicy, tart, sweetness of the flesh. This blends with a bright, green spruce character. The malt backbone is sweet, but not detracting. Caramel at first, and then toasty to balance it out. Instead of detracting from the hops, the toasty sweetness of the malt combines with the hops, lending an even sweeter red grapefruit flavor, and almost a tart cherry kind of thing. The finish is more earthy, spicy pine, like the pine resin, which makes this beer very balanced, and then there's just enough of dryness and a lingering citrus bitterness to demand another sip.

F: Medium-bodied, but feels full and oily on the tongue, yet with ample carbonation to push it quickly across the palate and scrub your taste buds clean.

O: I haven't had this beer in two years, and it still tastes as good as I remember despite how much my palate has changed. When it comes to freshly hopped, old school west coast IPAs, Sierra Nevada still nails it.

 1,508 characters

Photo of fuhkyou
2.26/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

I can't believe how bad this beer is and how grossly overrated it is. It's not just Celebration either but most SN offerings... the power of icon I suppose.

 156 characters

Photo of DevAJ
2.36/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

I either am just not into hoppy beers yet, or I haven't found the proper hops. It's not bad for the first 1/4th of the beer, but after that, it's just too much for me. I guess I just don't like a ton of American hops, because I don't find Schlafly's Tasmanian IPA to be that bad (it supposedly uses Australian hops).

 318 characters

Photo of joekoz007
4.91/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle into an IPA glass.
Pours a crystal clear dark copper color with 3.5 inches of thick, off-white head. Some of the head was still in the bottom of the glass after I finished the beer. Gobs of sticky lacing.

Aroma is all hop. Citrus, pine, minty notes abound.

Taste at the start and finish is a terrific hop bitterness with a touch of bready malt in the middle. Moderate carbonation and a pleasant, slightly oily mouthfeel.
Overall, this is a superb beer. Definitely my favorite Christmas brew. In my top 3 favorite beers ever. Seek this out.

 560 characters

Photo of GreatStoutman
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark copper body under very light tan head that holds its own while producing a beautiful lacing. Smells sweet and piney, citrus. Layers of flavorful hops that really take you for a ride. Celebration indeed, this is an awesome IPA!

 231 characters

Photo of acmurphy696
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a good tasting IPA with a fantastic appearance and a pleasant aroma. For whatever reason, the taste bends more towards bitter, which I don't usually mind, but there doesn't seem to be much balancing out that bitterness.

 227 characters

Photo of Riff
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an amber color with a thick off-white head. Smells of pine, a little of toasted malts, and a hint of tropical fruit. The first thing I noticed with the tastes was a hop bite, pine, a little toasted malts, and some citrus. Mostly the piney hops. Overall though it's a very solid IPA and I was finished with the glass before I knew it.

 339 characters

Photo of mrbran0
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best seasonal ever. For real.

30 characters

Photo of rand
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just picked up a couple of 6 packs of fresh, 2015 vintage, and realized I hadn't reviewed this. 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear, amber appearance, with a small, fluffy head. A couple rings of lacing are left after a few sips.

S: Hop-forward nose with a citrusy, floral bouquet. I just went through a lot of fresh-hop brews from the September harvest, adn this smells very similar.

T: The hop essence defines the flavors but it's floral, grassy and nuanced rather than bitter. NOtes of green apple and citrus rind are countered by honeyed biscuits and toasty grains. There is some bitterness toward the back of the sip, joining a touch of warming alcohol. Closes with a medium finish, with lingering bitter residuals.

M: Medium-light complexion with an oily slick mouthfeel.

There's good reason everyone clamors over this brew this time of year. It seems all of the fresh hop IPA's available have only made this more popular. Get it while you can.

 986 characters

Photo of Wiffler27
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep dark red / almost red-brown color with a thick white head. the head subsides slightly but a solid white head remains, even after 30 minutes! great looking and lively beer.

smells like sweet roasted malts. a slight smell of sweet hops exist but it is not prominent in the aroma.

the taste is fantastic, nice combination of grapefruit and toasted malt. not overpowering but very solid. goes down very smooth, easy drinking!

overall this is a pretty good IPA, nothing mindblowing but it does everything right. not overly hoppy or malty, utilizes a few different tastes.

 582 characters

Photo of BSanch8
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great looking Amber color for this IPA. great piney, resin and lift citrus flavor. Great carbonation. Unfortunately mine was already 2 months old. Still very great. Need to try it fresh for the full taste.

 205 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

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.

B-

High C+

***
11/11/16: 2016 vintage impressions (bottled). 6 pack ran me $9.99 at a beer store in Brooklyn, NY.

Clear copper-amber body. Translucent and transparent. Frothy off-white cap. Nice lacing. ~7 minute retention. Looks decent for an IPA; not the usual vibrant clean copper you'd see.

Aroma hints at toastiness, with a more amber malt-driven malt backbone than most IPAs offer, putting amber malts on equal footing with pale malts. Hop profile is floral, somewhat piney, a little oily, a bit resinous...it caters to eclectic tastes, ticking almost every traditional box in terms of traditional hop aromatics (everything except juicy/citrusy fruity hop notes).

A coating texture and medium body combined with an atypically coarse and dry somewhat dragging presence on the palate give the subtle bubblegum and oily piney hop notes more oomph at the expense of the cleaner floral and resinous hop notes (which would be better accentuated by a more smooth, wet, light feel). A slightly toasty slightly bready amber malt backbone gives this a slightly sweeter taste than most IPAs go for, which plays to its holiday theme to an extent - at the expense of drinkability. Deliberately imbalanced with a chaotic clash of hop bitterness and amber malt toasty sweetness in combination with a rough texture, Celebration is anything but a dialed-in beer, but I nevertheless find myself enchanted by it. It's far from great in terms of traditional style conventions, bending more towards an imperial amber (or heaven forbid a nonsense designation like "red IPA"), but there's an intangible element that keeps me returning to it year to year...and at a very reasonable $9.99 per sixer, that's easy to do.

B- / WORTHY

 4,290 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear copper body, few lazy bubbles rise. Very pale tan rocky dense head with lots of 3D lace. Aroma is mostly citrus and malt: orange and grapefruit with equal parts caramel and bread. Flavor, too, is perfectly evenly balanced, with citrus notes being immediately balanced by bread, crisp bitterness being immediately balanced by sweet caramel and malt. Full body, smooth.
Incredibly balanced brew here. I don't care much for the huge grapefruit-y citric hops, but I can't deny the appeal to those who do, nor the perfect execution of the balancing malt. Big flavor, big aroma, great feel, sexy appearance. High score is mostly based on style, but if I were to rate subjectively it'd land just below 4.0.

 705 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 10,193 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.

    Subscribe