Celebration Fresh Hop IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Celebration Fresh Hop IPACelebration Fresh Hop IPA
10,507 Ratings
Celebration Fresh Hop IPACelebration Fresh Hop IPA

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

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

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Ratings: 10,507 |  Reviews: 3,550
Photo of Dubblebock
3.41/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I finally managed to get my hands on a sixer of this a couple of weeks ago. This was my first stab at the Celebration Ale, and I dropped $7.99 for the opportunity to try it. Interestingly enough, I had to slowly drink my way through almost the entire six-pack (I have one left) before I could get a handle on this beer. My initial impression was that it was badly out of whack. It seemed extremely unbalanced and overly harsh at first, but I began to understand the beer a little better after I had sampled it a few more times.

It's a confusing holiday brew for those who have never tried it before. It's not your traditional spiced Christmas ale. No, it's an IPA, and a big one to boot. Celebration really throws you when you first try it.

It pours great, with a big, foamy head and a slight citrus nose. It's a dark amber color in the mug, and it just looks fantastic.

The initial taste is mellow, but the hop bitters really kick in on the middle and back of the tongue. Potent, to say the least. I was really taken aback on my first try at this beer. I was not expecting the high level of bitterness at all. No malt character to speak of, this one is all hops. It felt like Santa had come down my chimney and punched me right in the mouth. POW! Merry effin' Christmas, you BA wannabe!! I felt betrayed. Celebration, indeed!

But, I couldn't abandon it. I had to keep after it, had to master it. So I tried it again, this time figuring that I knew a little more about what to expect. Better on the second try. Still bitter, but not so bad. Tried one straight from the bottle. Better yet. Actually began to get a little bit of malty warmth out of it. By the fouth one, I was ok with it and actually started to really enjoy it. I felt like the bruise that Santa had given me had healed a little, and a little bit of the ol' Celebration spirit was beginning to kick in.

Good mouthfeel, fair carbonation. Not something my palate would say is highly drinkable, but one or two at a sitting would be cool. I'll have a go at it again next year now that I know more about the beer. If you're into strong India Pale Ales, this one is for you. Don't expect much more than a hop explosion, but if that's what you like, you're in for a treat.

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Photo of Realale
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich full copper with a decent blush of red. Very fine 1" beige head settles slowly to a 1/4" cap and stays, leaving nice lacing.

Nose is citric stemmy/leafy/resiny hops. Some rich bready malt pokes through as does a touch of caramel.

Medium-bodied in the mouth with some brown bread and toffee. Good hop flavor. Bit thin towards the finish when the bitterness really takes over. The bitterness is significant but very well-mannered.

Mouthfeel is a bit watery, but a higher level of carbonation would accentuate the hops too much. A pleasure to drink.

2003 Edition.

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Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one poured a golden copper color with a frothy white head. The smell was citrusy and hoppy. As was the taste. I noticed lots of grapefruit along with some floral hops. But the malt backbone kept the hops in check, somewhat. This was still quite hoppy but not extremely bitter. Another winner from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of counselor
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another great offering from SN. This beer poured the color of the mosquito fossil amber cane the old guy had in Jurrasic Park. At first it smelled crisp and clean like a cold winter morning, but then the super dry hop smell kicked in to let you know what was ahead. Like the SN Pale Ale, this beer is well balanced with smooth malt flavors across the tounge, with cirtus dry hops to balance out the beer. Molasses and tannin flavors that balance out nicely. A really nice beer that carries on SN's west coast brewing tradition

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Photo of Globetrotter
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What a treat to enjoy a bottle of this masterpiece while sitting in Moscow. Thanks to a colleague who had delivered this and several other holiday brews. Now, if only I could get the Russians to copy this sucker!

Pours a nice cloudy rich copper color under an off white two-fingered head with body and staying power. Nice lace rings linger down the glass. There's lots of fresh sweet hops in the nose, almost like a carnation it's so sweet and flowery. The mouth is very prickly and fairly light. The taste is scrumptious - lots of sweetly bitter hops, with what almost seems like a bit of apple juice somewhere in the back to add balance. The finish is all bitter, leaving a marvellously spicy aftertaste. This was the last beer I had before going to bed last night, and the aftertaste was so good I didn't want to brush my teeth and lose it! Yum!

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Photo of Redrover
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz “mid-range” brown bottle.

Beer pours a wonderful burnished copper with a massive and thick tan head.

Wow, what an aroma! You can smell the hops from about 2 feet away. Lovely aroma, all citrus, pine and floral.

Taste is rock solid. Plenty of stringent hop bite.. But this not a one trick pony. You get some underlying fruit/bread taste, but it is always backed by that great hop taste. Definite pine taste as well. The taste stays solid as the beer warms.

Soft creamy tasty mouthfeel with perfectly calibrated carbonation. Easy to drink a lot of these big boys.

What a wonderful beer!!

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Photo of dmarch
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Truely a beer for the hophead, but maybe a let down for anyone expecting a spiced winter ale. This is without a doubt, an IPA. Amber in color with an off-white head that diminishes into a thin lace. Hop character is piney with a bit of grapefruit. A caremel malt flavor is almost completely hidden in the hoppy bitterness. Yes the winter is a miserable time of year, but this makes me look forward to it.

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Photo of ecoboy
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Here's the perfect example of a numerical-rating-by-style shortcoming. Overall, this is a wonderful, drinkable brew. But I feel it is not going to please someone looking for a traditional winter ale. There should be a more obvious IPA notation on the label (akin to Geary's Winter also being an IPA, while the HSA is the true "seasonal") which is more about the snow and hunkering down by the fire.

Even in my notes (where I reviewed Celebration as a Christmas strong ale/winter warmer [6.8% is warm enough for me, thanks]) I wrote the "winter for IPA lovers."

Amber hued in the center of the glass with golden edges. Big hop whack in the aroma. Big hop infusion in the flavor. Little malt presence, and a slight touch of sour.

Three of 'em will make you love any Sandra Bullock movie.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 - This deep copper/amber IPA with a solid beige head is a joy to behold. The lace is webby and clumpy in spots.
The aroma is outstanding! Fresh floral and citrusy hops dominate. The faint smell of spruce, sweet malt, fruit and alcohol are present.
While this is an amply malted brew, with some caramel and herbal qualities, the focus here is on the hops. Sharp-edged grapefruit bitterness and piney esters are in abundance. A light fruity background and a bit of metallic tang, along with some noticeable warming alcohol, make for a very flavorful ale, without resorting to an overwhelming quantity of alcohol. Celebration Ale will be one of the Christmas Eve offerings at my home this year.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The Celebration poured a copper-amber color with a nice thick, creamy head with fine bubbles that retained to the bitter end. Very nice smelling with a nice hop and spiciness balance with some floral tones. Interesting taste - medium to full bodied with a spicy, slightly sweet, initial taste with some subtle malt and fruitiness. Then come the hops! A very hoppy finish, a little too bitter for me. Overall, the Celebration is a very interesting beer. The hoppy, bitter finish and aftertaste is a little too overwhelming for me and detracts from the taste and drinkability of the beer.

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Photo of stirgy
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This poured out a very clear and bright orange amber color with a perfect head of dense foam. Wow, this is an intensely flavorful beer. With an aroma full of sweet flowery hops and lemon grass. Nice tasting malt body with a strong lingering bitterness. Very easy to drink and very enjoyable.

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Photo of waughbrew
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful orange with red highlights. Large creamy lasting head, thick lacing. Deep, rich American hop aroma, lemon juicy, a touch harsh. Flavor is peppered bread, some pine-sol, lemon rind, buttered biscuit, bitter. Nice body, not overly thick, healthy carbonation but not prickly.

Great brew, very solid. Like many other BAs, I look forward to this each year.

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Photo of TripelJ
4.78/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing from notes - 12/6/2003

Now Quaffing: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (IPA)

Hand-drawn tap at the Cock and Bull. This will become one of those memorable experiences that I will never forget. Poured an amazing hazy gold with a huge rocky plateau of a head that makes for an eternal wait of at least 5 minutes before the glass is filled. The delicately sweet and floral aroma is enticing. The taste and mouthfeel are what set this beer apart from other IPAs. The thick head looks deceptively solid, but reveals itself to be pure silk making for one of the smoothest mouthfeels I have ever experienced in a beer. The taste is briefly sweet with some citrus but quickly gives way to an assertive floral hop profile that is presented perfectly and lingers long after each sip. This beer is an incredible experience in alchemy. The alcohol is very deceptive in this one and I feel it drinks much stronger than its percentage.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep amber robe, hazy, well-laced white head from which a good part never disappears. Rich citrus (grapefruit) aroma with notes reminiscent of the christmas tree (piney, resinous, herbal). Good hop character, finish is moderately bitter, just hoppy enough I found. Medium body, good balance. It's certainly good, but it doesn't impress me.

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Photo of woemad
4.32/5  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.

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Photo of Crosling
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

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Photo of Weissenheimer
3.9/5  rDev -6%
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.

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Photo of winomark
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
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!

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Photo of yankeeheel
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

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Photo of rdrummer
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of Foxman
4.42/5  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.

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Photo of JISurfer
3.24/5  rDev -21.9%
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.

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Photo of silks636
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

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Photo of filabrazilia
4.65/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of dpend
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Celebration Fresh Hop IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 10,507 ratings