Celebration Fresh Hop IPA | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Celebration Fresh Hop IPACelebration Fresh Hop IPA
10,400 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: 10,400 |  Reviews: 3,518
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.

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Photo of jackndan
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: Very hoppy aroma, very little spice. Fairly surprising for a holiday beer. Reddish brown color, with a slightly off-white head. The aroma and taste is very much, too much, hops. In fact, but for a slight citrus taste at the end, its hardly a holiday beer at all. Very Very nice beer, not much of a holiday beer though.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.69/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great, and overrated. Hazy reddish gold with huge dense head. Aroma is the weak point; smells like spoiled milk to me. Tart, piney hops are all you need to know here. Like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale except bigger. Malt character is solid but almost beside the point. Good for sitting by the fire on Christmas Eve with friends and family and getting comfortably smashed. A fine beer, flawed, whose esteem has risen largely because of limited availability.

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Photo of bmills1608
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Head was slightly off white with hints of green, this beer is heavily hopped and even the color of the head is an indicator. Color was orange-amber. Nose was citrus and lots of it, grapefruit to be specific, and very spicy-zesty.

Taste is the prototypical in your face cascades explosion and there are lots of them for sure. The initial taste is packed with hops and is crunchy hard, very nice indeed. Mid palate and finish contains a smoldering bitterness as the spicy citrus fades slowly. Malt flavors are definitely in the background but are just ample enough to not be totally overwhelmed by the hop muscle. I did not realize this beer was an IPA, I initially thought it was a spiced winter warmer.

Sierra really works the Cascades well with this beer.

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Photo of maxpower
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark copper color, foamy head, citrus hoppy aroma. Medium-Full bodied and unfilterd, thick head leaves a nice lace in the glass. Very hoppy with a good malt backbone, balanced creamy soft mouthfeel, I love this IPA.

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Photo of johnrobe
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 edition. What a marvelous brew!! Admittedly, I'm a hop-head and this beer does not disappoint. Hops, hops and more hops in the aroma (of the signature citric/floral Pacific Northwest varieties). Dark orange amber with a cream colored head that sticks around. Hops dominate the palate with lovely grapefruit and floral flavors which are pleasantly bitter. Delicious sweet bready malt (like Hawaiian sweetbread) comes up for support around mid-palate but quickly gives way to...you guessed it....the hops in the finish. But they are such lovely, complex, well integrated, mouthwatering hops. Mmmm!!

7/4/03: I stocked up on '02 Celebration and it's been a real pleasure to see how it ages. The brash, overt hoppiness of new SN Celebration is still evident but has settled down and is now wonderfully balanced with the malt. I continue to be impressed with this brew.

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Photo of Murph
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yummy, I've got to make sure that I get some more of this stuff before it is all gone for the year. Beautiful copper beer with a big white sticky head and great acing and ringing down the glass. Nice piney and citrusy/floral hop aromas dominate. Quick hop bite right at the start of the brew before it turns into some nice mellow malt through the middle before the fruity hoppy flavors take over and the beer eventually finishes with a nice lingering hop bitterness. Smooth and tangy with a decently heavy body that is appropriate for the season. I'm tempted to run out and buy more of this right now. I'm definitely going to put some of it away so that I can enjoy it as the year goes by.

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Photo of CharlesRiver
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden amber with a nice white fluffy head. The smell is hops all the way. Well balanced beer that has that warming affect as you drink more. Lots of little bubbles that dance in your mouth. I can't find one part of this beer that stands out too much or over powers another flavor. My two favorite parts are the smell and the aftertaste. I will have to get more of this.

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

2001 Vintage
Sweet mother of god! This is the ambrosia I have been seeking. Fresh Celebration was always in my top 10, but an aged version... I think I need a change of underwear.
Appearance is a deep golden amber with a large white head and perfect lacing. The aroma is sheer bliss. Sierra Nevada should make a cologne that smells like this. The taste: Complex malts, honey, cinnamon, clove, and the best goddamn hop flavor I've ever experienced. This is perfectly balanced. Mouthfeel is smooth enough to bed the queen of England, and the drinkakbility: too good to be true.
If you've never had an aged Celebration, I can tell you that's it's a completely different beer. The only way this beer could possibly improve is by aging it another year or so.

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Photo of Morris729
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After hearing so many people rave about this beer, I was finally able to get my hands on a 6-pack, and I have to say that if you like hops, you will enjoy this brew. It pours a medium amber color with a massive creamy head. The strong scent of hops struck me as I was pouring the beer. Once in the glass, some fruit scents were notably mixed with the hops. The taste is a bit sweet and spicy with a strong hop blast on the back of the tongue. A very nice beer for the winter season!

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Photo of doho95fu
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Version - Everyone has mentioned the hops in this beer, but to me it was REALLY hoppy. I'm a borderline hophead so I was neither pleased or displeased with my own reaction. The beer was a copper haze with an off white head. There was good lacing. The smell immediately signals hops, but there was a citrus hint as well. The flavor, as I said before, is hoppy with a citrus and spice flavor. I think maybe there was less of the spicyness than in other holiday brews - good for me. I did not notice any real alcohol kick, just the average IPA alcohol. Overall, a good beer.

Something about the bottle with the red cap just reminds me of the holidays.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Edition

This was the Celebration Ale brewed for the 2002 season. The beer poured to a beautiful amber/copper color with a creamy off-white head that lasts. With each sip a nice lace-work forms on the side of the glass. The nose is one of a floral and spicey bitterness. When sipped you get a blast of spicey, floral hop flavor with a note of maltiness in the background. The finish is dry, with a bit of alcoholic warmth. Overall, this is a very tastey brew with the hop aroma and flavor more than outweighing the malt characteristics.
2003 Edition

Pours to a brilliant copper-orange color with a creamy tan head. The aroma is of fresh, juicy citrus hops, with a nice, soft malt backbone. The flavor is fruity, citrusy and spicy with the malt taking backstage. It is bitter from beginning to end, with the bitterness sticking with you through each sip. It is a full-bodied, bitter brew. A definite yearly favorite.

sampled 11/26/03

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark orange, light amber in color with a thin head. The aroma is of delicate spices. Big whiffs of cascade hops, but these are balanced out by a nice orange citrus which makes itself known as the beer warms. Flavor is spicy and once again the hops are very noticeable up front. Mid-palate is dominated by a nutmeggy malt sweetness and a mild alcohol warming, folllowed by a significant hop bitterness. Dry finish with a good spice aftertaste. Very drinkable indeed!

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Photo of yen157
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured deep copper in color with a resonable nice fine, sticky, off-white head and a little chill haze. Smelled of malt, yeast, and a nice piney, floral hops. Also, some pineapple in the nose. I was impressed by the complexity of the hops in this one. As far as tastes go, the first flavor was a big, bitter mouthful. This was followed by bread crust, and a tiny bit of salt at the very end. Because of the dominance of hops, there is a lingering bitterness and "hop burps".

I finally was able to find this SN beer by me. I've been looking forward to the season and the beer for some time to see if it lived up to the hype. I'm sad to say, IMVHO, that it did not. Don't get me wrong, it was quite a good beer. I am definately seeking this one out in the future. I'm just not going to set up a shrine in its honor. My biggest problem was with the mouthfeel. In terms of style, the mouthfeel was flawless. However, since it is packaged as a winter brew I feel it falls short of the mark. Two things could be done to correct this. The first is give it a finer carbonation. The second is increase the final gravity. IMO, the carbonation is too coarse, or the body a bit too thin, for a "winter warmer".

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Photo of ADR
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 edition...

Slightly hazy dark orange color, plenty of head that holds rocky shapes and laces well. Bright spicy orange aromas, hops influenced. This baby is hopped like a maniac, the agreeable malt has slight nutmeg qualities but seems overrun early and often by the hops all the way to the aftertaste. Just too unbalanced for my expectations of a winter brew (unless X-mas in California means IPA), lots of similarities to some other up and coming juicy American IPAs. But, a cool addition to your arsenal of winter brews, I can certainly be in the mood for this as there are definite times I crave hops. Much more gutsy than SN Pale...maybe they should run this all year.

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

My mouth started watering when I read the name of this ale. I admit I've got a 'thing' for hops, but this is a wonderful example of a full bodied ale with strong hops. I'm not sure if this is considered a seasonal, but its my favorite of the bunch. Its like having a great winter beer and a great IPA. Great for drinking outside during the winter.

addendum: market found 10 cases hidden, so its on sale. Seems extra good compared to the lagers I've had lately

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours to a dark copper with foam like crazy. nice and lacy all down the glass as this beer goes down. there is a nice sweet malty smell with a hint of hops.

the beer itself is incredibly smooth and rich. it has a wonderful array of sweet malts that are followed by a delicious hops finish. wonderful drinker for fall and winter. there is a lot going on with this beer, and i love all of it

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Photo of marc77
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Copper hue w/ good clarity. Persistant ivory white head leaves Belgian lace. An assertive, pungent combination of a citrusy cascade and piney hops hit the nose immediately, then are ceded by medium caramel and hints of rich, pleasant butterscotch. Although the hop bitterness is quite assertive, the rich malt character isn't overshadowed, and toasty malt and well integrated, deep caramel provide a firm malt backbone to support the hops. Hop flavor mirrors the hop nose, and is both citrusy and piney, but when coupled with malt sweetness, could be perceived as sweetly spruce like. Moderately bodied, w/ a dextrinous, full mouthfeel. Fruity esters, although subdued, emerge late and provide additional complexity. Finishes w/ a delectable lingering combination of crisp hop bitterness and mild caramel sweetness. Tongue coating bready grain is perceptible upon exhaling. This years Celebration (2002) retains the hop profile of previous years, but the malt profile seems to possess greater depth and richness. Simply put, it's one of the greatest American IPAs around. Who needs spices in a winter brew, when spicy aromatics can be acheived with hops? It's a beautiful beer, especially when consumed at cellar temps or above.

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Photo of hyuga
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just picked up the first 2002 six pack of this sold by my local specialty grocery store, and with great anticipation, I cracked one open. Huge frothy head over an amber-brown brew. Head retains very well and leaves lace as the glass empties. Powerful hop aroma, mostly citrus, a bit spicy. Hints of sweet caramel malt. Wonderful! On the palate, bitter and spicy hops take the lead with malt struggling behind in the beginning, but showing itself more as more is consumed. Deeper in, more complex hop character comes through showing the variety used in hopping this beer. Citrus, oil, and fruit are all present. Malt backs all of this up very well with grain and caramel sweetness. Spicy and grain dry finish. This isn't what I would normally expect from a winter brew, but surprisingly, it fits with the season very well. The spicy hop character gives it that winter holiday feel. This is what I want to drink with Thanksgiving dinner. Insanely drinkable for a winter brew as well. This is an exceptional ale that goes beyond even high expectations, the perfect companion all through the winter!

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

First of all I was not overly impressed with this beer. It poured a golden brown and had no foam. The aroma had a faint floral smell and that was it. The bitterness of this beer over powered my palate and I couldn't detect any outstanding flavor in this beer. Tried it again and raised my rating by .5. I didn't get it so cold this time. Warmer is better!

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Photo of mickeymac
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's here: 2002 edition. It pours a pretty golden-red with a somewhat bubbly off-white head. The trademark Sierra hops are definitely in there, but the smell isn't by any means overwhelming. In fact, the hops seem almost subtle for an SN beer. Notes of citrus abound, with a definite undercurrent of yeasty/bready flavors. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light and almost fizzy on the tongue. Despite its 6.8% abv and a definite warming quality, it doesn't want to go down like a sipping beer. I'm going to have a hard time keeping away from the remainder of the six-pack. Welcome winter!

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Photo of aaronh
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a light chestnut colored beer that has a slight reddish hue and amber highlights. It pours with a nice, solid head that really covers the glass with lace and exhibits excellent head retention. The aroma is of malt and floral hops, with a hint of spices. The front end of the taste is sweetness with a strong hop finish. The hops seem to be very much in keeping with Sierrs Nevada's style. It has a very smooth mouthfeel, and drinks quite easily. I feel fortunate to have found and enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of allboutbierge
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Compared this to an Anchor Special Ale at the same time. This won though the Anchor was wonderful as well. Sensational mouthfeel: very silky, smooth, and luxurious tasting (the mouthfeel of this beer is like the ride of a Mercedes). Leaves attractive lace on glass and maintains a slightly foamy top through the whole beer. Alluring color of Mahogany amber and cloudy. Taste is herb and spice filled. Strong hops, bitter but not all that overpowering. Very complex. Can't picture drinking more than two of these though. Very enjoyable beer and will be awaiting this years version.

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

Deep Copper to Reddish Bronze. Huge Citrusy Aroma and Big Citrus Hop Flavor. High Bitterness but solid malt backing for good balance. Medium Bodied leaning to the Full side and very smooth.

This review was based on the 2001 Version. One of my favorite American Style IPAs - I buy at least 2 cases each year -- DRINK it fresh as it goes downhill after about 9 months. Still not bad but loses a good bit of it's citrusy hoppiness.

I have had the 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 versions.


Update: 03/13/05 Linear Tasting: Tasted 01, 02, 03 and 04 with much the same results - drink fresh!! Older versions did not go bad but hops were subdued to the point of having the Celebration Ale turn into a light English Barleywine... If that's what you like just buy a good BW instead of bothering with aging.

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Photo of jreitman
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Incredibly great color with an enticing aroma. Malt flavors are quite noticeable dominated mostly by nuts and some caramel. Hops also show themselves through some nice citrus undertones. The alcohol gives the beer a nice warming property and does not detract from the other flavors. Very interesting and complex brew that deserves several sessions.

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Celebration Fresh Hop IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 10,400 ratings