Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,466 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,466 | Ratings: 10,208
Photo of MattBrooks
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another classic release from Sierra Nevada! Pours almost orange in color with a citrusy nose and classic hoppy-bitter from start to finish with BIG malty undertones. Almost burnt on the very long finish. Really stays with you for awhile. I don't think I could sit down and drink a whole sixer at a time; but could probably polish off 12 in a week- a little too bitter to have a lot at once.

 390 characters

Photo of cooter
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A powerful, regal appearance. Slowly drifting bubbles, a silken head that affords no compromise as I let it sit for twenty minutes must have the blood of kings.

Smells surprisingly good. I have low expectations of winter warmers and celebration ales, and I'll say now that i don't see Sierra N. brand as a top runner...but this has promise. Wicked awesome promise.

Anyway, smells of delicious, rich and fruitily fragrant hops, smooth and abundant. Also clove, I want to say peppermint, bark, pine, and by the gods I smell olive oil. Some nuts.

First taste uses the head so well it's like Jenna Jameson. Creamy and hoppy but not even a tinge of bitter, despite grapefruit, pepper, more pine, sticky maple, mango, melon, and a host of other hopitudes being present, PLUS the fantastic malt roastiness towards the back. Strawberry jumps in at the front and fades instantly to nothing. Reminds me of 60 minute IPA from Dogfish Head, mutated into a half-porter style.

Mouthfeel, do I even need to spell it out? Superb. Creamy beyond belief, smooth, but with enough bite to keep you wildly excited.

For balance and fairness and to show I'm not biased, this beer isn't drinkable at all. To have a second would be a chore. It's too rich, too spicy, too thick and flavorful on the tongue and on the roof of the mouth. But this isn't criticism, it's a fair extrapolation of this beer's strengths.

 1,416 characters

Photo of guinness9880
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a great winter warmer, one of the best seasonal winter beers I have had an opportunity to tast. The color is copper and and the nose is deceivingly faint. The taste however is an explosion of hops and spices and fades quickly to an almost malty sweetness on the backend. SNCA is a hopheads dream, as if Sierra Nevada gave the gift of fine cascade hops to all beer drinkers for Christmas.

 395 characters

Photo of nlmartin
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This bottle from 2005 was poured into a pub glass.

Appearance: This beer has a very nice deep copper coloration. The head was an inch thick creamy off white. Few spiderwebs of lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: This beer smells of spicy, piney citrus goodness.

Taste: The smell almost lived up to the taste. This beer is very spicy. There is lots of peppery goodness dancing upon waves of citrus and malt mixture.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: The beer is meduim to full bodied. There is nice carbonation helping to float the beer down. Very drinkable beer. I just wish it was available all year long.

 613 characters

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


Bright copper in color. Clarity is great. 1/2 inch head with some serious staying power. One swirl brings the whole thing back.

Smell is of hops, pine, citrus. Very good.

Taste is hoppy and delicious. Grapefruit and rosemary.
Bitter as hell and I love it!

A great beer that I look forward to every year.

 322 characters

Photo of Mitchel
2.26/5  rDev -45.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I initially was very excited about this beer, having heard so many great things about it. But….I found myself a little disappointed in the end.

Poured a clear, orangy, red with a great creamy head which held for a long while. It leaves a little lace and the head is still holding….will it ever quit? The world may never know!

This beer smells like wet hops and plastic. Sorry guys, just my opinion. Upon another inhalation, it has a spicy citrus smell which is quite nice once you get passed the plastic.

This ale is strangely creamy and, as anticipated, very hoppy. I don’t personally have a soft spot for hoppy beers, so this one doesn’t stand out as one of my favorites. It has lots of things going on though. This beer reminds me of grapefruit and lemon peel. Bitter and spicy makes for a great winter warmer. That ABV might catch you off guard, watch out.

 874 characters

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

Poured from the bottle(room temp) with a nice head that dissipated fairly slowly into a fine broken layer in the center and a fine lacing around the edge of glass. The colour is a very attractive and clear reddish gold.

The smell is a strong hoppy-fruity aroma that is very inviting, no compelling.

The taste is very strong hops with grapefruit notes that jumps at you early then settles down a bit in the middle with some malt tones and returns with a very nice bitterness in the aftertaste.
Wow! This is one of my favourite brews of *any* style!

 554 characters

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

ok lets add another. yeah this beer is darn good, i'm sorta glad it's seasonal though.
appearance: it's amber, which seems fine in this case.
smell: ah. hops. but very, very fresh hops. almost like wet hops or draft beer. i'm guessing this is the dry hopping. the smell is so strong it mixes with the taste while you drink it.
taste: it's got a very prickly bitterness, that is not smooth at all. yet it works well in this case. the malts are up to the task of keeping this thing balanced. there's just something a little different from other ipa's that i can't put my finger on. but this is bitter enought to scare non-hopheads away.
mouthfeel is quite carbinated. drinkability is super high for a beer this complex. I've drank a pint of this with ease. for this review i've turned it into a nice siper in a tulip and that works too. enjoy

 849 characters

Photo of Lnedrive14
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle of 2005

A: Like an organic, 100% juice apple juice. Single finger pearl colored head. Unbelievable lacking - 5 minutes later it is still coating my dogfish head pint glass (thanks nick).

S: I dont know - nothing special here. Spicy and citrusy - exactly what i expect from an IPA.

T: Quite interesting. The hops knocked me aside initially, but as I continued drinking I realized they arent overwhelming at all. They hit you upon first sip, but dissipate quickly without any bitter remainder. Definite orange and grapefruit.

M: I doubt this adjective is appropriate for an IPA, but it was creamy! Slid down easy and coated my throat the whole way. Truly great feel.

D: I think I could pretty much pound these away. Doesn't have the raw power of the Stone IPA, but at the same time, it might make it easier to drink. Great brew to enjoy a six-pack of over the course of a day of football.

 911 characters

Photo of waldowin
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 2005 run.

Pours a nice clear amber, with a thick, sticky white head, that just pastes itself against the sides of the glass in layers.

Smells of a pine forest, and citrus and cedar. Has a nice pop to it.

Tastes a hint of medium malt, very simple, and followed by a nice pop of pine and cedar. Wonderful hop kick at the end that just offsets the malt. Almost a bit of toasted walnuts in the finish. Mildly spicy, with a nice tinge.

The carbonation adds another edge to the hops, and makes it a pleasurable grapefruit fizz along your tongue.

This is good stuff! I don't really care for their pale at all, but this is fantastic stuff. Wish it was made year-round.

 684 characters

Photo of wedge
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Pours a clear reddish copper hue with steady carbonation. A fat creamy off-white head floats on top - good retention. Nice fresh hop aroma with a hint of spiciness. The flavor is of crisp, resinous hops that shroud a light acidic grapefruit middle - the malts work well with the hops, they're there but they balance out the hop-load without interfering. Very fresh. Medium body, lingering dry bitterness.

Juicy. I guess its the light spicy quality that makes this seasonal. At 6.8% a few of these will warm you up real good. Definately well worth sampling on tap as well.

 582 characters

Photo of slyke
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was a great beer to have this afternoon - gloomy and misty in my neighborhood.

This beer poured a pleasing copper-rust color with an off-white head.

The aroma was very malty with some hop notes.

Taste was great with a hoppy bite up front, malt dominated the middle of the taste, then back to the hops for a nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel is great too. Just what you'd expect in a wintery IPA.

Drinkability is good on this beer. It is just the kind of thing for a cold and wet day. A couple of these is a nice way to pass a couple of hours.

 555 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition

Appearence: Pours a mostly clear copper with a bubbly, frothy off-white head that lingers forever and leaves nice lacing. Loads of fast moving carbonation.

Smell: Nice fruity and floral hops hit the nose with a nice bready background.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Hot diggity damn this is one hell of an IPA. Strong, in-your-face abrasive hops, with killer spices, yet still delicately balanced. This is very alive tasting, very vibrant if you will, and is a real treat for the taste buds. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

Drinkability and Overall: Hell yeah. Go Sierra Nevada. I wasn't a big fan of last years version, but this one is phenomenal. A very good winter IPA, and one I'd like to see what age does to. This one's a winner.

 761 characters

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

2005 edition: Purchased a single at Whole Foods in Raleigh. Poured from a 12 ounce bottle. Smell: All hops. Color: clear amber with large long lasting white head. Very hoppy taste with a smooth finish. I really like this beer. I was expecting a winter spice malty beer, but was surprised and very happy. Did not realize this was an IPA. A great beer, worth picking up a six pack.

 379 characters

Photo of cracgor
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Perfect looking beer. Nice clear amber body with a tall offwhite head that lasts and lasts. Smells sweet and fruity with a kick of hops. Has a bit more christmas/winter smell to it than I expected from a style created to send beer to some of the hottest and most humid regions of the earth prior to refrigeration. Wow to the taste! It is a very fruity and well malted IPA. I'd like to see more hops, but what it does have makes the beer taste more like I expect in cold weather. Light to medium body. Dry and Crisp. I may have to go get a case of this stuff:-)

 560 characters

Photo of SupaCelt
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I hadn't had this since 2002. From what I remebered, it was pretty darn good. I figured I would get in the holiday spirit and pick up a sixer to see what was shaking with this year's edition.

Looks: Clear and clean as expected. Amber in colour with copious helpings of plump fizzles. I got about a half inch of head from a less than vigorous pour. This beige cap recedes to a surface coat and leaves tracks of lace in its wake.

Smells: Nicely hopped. Pine aromas and scents of fruitiness are notable, with a vague breadiness underneath. I could say grapefruit and feel relatively comfortable with that description. This is not a super pungent strain of ale, but it is quite pleasant to sniff.

Tastes: Nicely hopped as well. Resinous sappy tones and the aforementioned grapefruit which emerges in the bitter finish. The malt character is overshadowed as expected. It has just a hint of sweetness and crustiness. Hops are the headline. There is quite a pronounced drying effect in the finish and a fruity aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This is not a monster by any means, with a medium body at best. It is what it claims to be. Nothing fancy here just a good old IPA American style.

Drinkability: Easily dispatched with. This could be in the SN year round lineup. Then they could come out with something a bit more over the top for celebration season. At any rate this is a fine beer. As long as one realizes what this is and doesn't expect a mind blowing special production just because it says celebration, it's pretty good. This is not something that I will count down the days until next release though.

 1,614 characters

Photo of troutmask96
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've never been a big fan of mass-produced IPA's, but after reading glowing reviews of Sierra Nevada's seasonal Celebration Ale, I sprung for a sixer. Pours a thick, foamy head that moved up my flute glass quickly. Smell is very fruity, which I found rather unique for an IPA. Taste is...oh, I guess so-so, but nothing that struck me as exceptional. Mouthfeel is decent, but a bit watery, not as thick as some of my favorite IPA's. A very high level of carbonation has me downgrading the drinkability due to the belchiness that comes with session drinking of this brew.

I did like the fruitiness, though. It reminded me a bit of Southern Comfort. So there you have it: SN's Celebration Ale is the Southern Comfort of beers...

 727 characters

Photo of blackie
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: The pour creates a .5" white head in the snifter. A layer of foam is left on top. Nice lacing. The beer is a light copper in color. 2005 edition.

smell: Nice level of piney hops here. Big aromas of tropical fruits (mango, citrus...), which I enjoy thoroughly. The hops are at the forefront, but there is some malt characteristic coming through.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is slightly above medium, and the body a moderate thin.

taste: Decent balance here, imo. A little more malt coming through would be nice. Some nondescript dark and light fruit flavors. Dominant bitterness from the hops, with a little malt flavor taking second stage. More malt, more hop flavor, more complexity, please.

drinkability: just a couple is plenty

I've seen some other reviews complaining about a lack of balance. Though I would like a little more malty sweetness, there is plenty here to keep me satisfied. It is an IPA, after all.

 937 characters

Photo of bigdeuce
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another beauty from Sierra Nevada. Only drawback is it should be a year round brew not winter. It's a definite IPA with smooth initial contact and beautiful hoppy washdown. Also has some characteristics of an ESB but definitely more bitter. Great tracing down the glass, smooth spicy start, hoppy bitter finish.

I try to rate the beer not by what a beer company "says" it is as I do more the style it really is, and this one is no winter brew but an excellent APA/IPA(whichever you choose).

 494 characters

Photo of WTexas
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The 2005 Celebration Ale appeared a light amber color with a promising thick beige head of foam. It smelled exceptionally hoppy – not surprising given its IPA heritage. I anticipated a complex mixing of flavors, but found only an almost brackish bitterness which was consistent throughout the session. I did not detect the spiced accents that I’ve come to expect in other “holiday beers”. I only found a resin and pine aftertaste. Mouthfeel was also disappointing -- oily and thin are the words that best capture it for me. Sierra Nevada’s 2005 offering is an adequate IPA, but not one that I’ll be using to ring in the holidays.

 635 characters

Photo of Stimack
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After last year really only being able to find this brew on tap, it seems to be all over the place in bottles this year. This review is for the 2005 Bottle version. Brew pours to a amber color with a small off white head that has pretty good retention and leaves a lot of lacing through out. The aroma is hoppy in character to say the least with pine like scents dominating followed by a caramel malt flavor. I think the hops really seem to make distinguishing some of the spices quite hard. The taste is nice, starts real smooth, and then quickly breaks to a strong hop flavor of pine that stays in the mouth for quite a while. Again, this is a very smooth tasting brew, one that I must say makes my day when it is available. A favorite.

 738 characters

Photo of indy169
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I sampled this beer at a local watering hole and was floored by it. I was expecting a decent fruity/hoppy/spicy beer and was shocked to find all that plus some real conviction. The flavors really are alive and pronounced. light fruit and spice essence hinting at kiwi, pear and ginger, mixing perfectly with a killer bold hopping. Sierra Nevada has got a real winner here. My hat is off to you folks at SN. This is one beer worthy of joining your celebration. Happy Holidays

 474 characters

Photo of bunn4funn
3.54/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reveiwed from a bottle 2005

Apearence- Beautiful caramel, clear color with a nice pancake colored one finger head. Great lacing effect from this bottle i mean incredable.

Aroma- Well its definatly hoppy/piney with a short following of caramel and baking spices like nutmeg, even some grapefuit/lemon

Taste- sharp bite from the hops upfront. They are piny and leave a definate "spike" in the tounge. Im getting that lemon bready feel from this brew as it warms. Now that it has matured (out of the bottle) and my palete is more accoustomed to the hops i can tell that there is a whole other side. Like some caramel and baking spices. Just what you would expect a celebration ale from Sierra Nevada to taste like.

Mouthfeel- Smooth and lightly carbonated, slightly oily.

Drinkability- Good even though it is 6.8% abv, Though you might want to pace yourself it will creep up on you after two or three. Its just so good i dont want to stop drinking it!!1

Overall- Fine brew, love what it has to offer!!! Great to drink with family and friends. We all have a lot to be thankful for and this brew is definatly one !!!

 1,133 characters

Photo of charlatan
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Copper colour with a decent head which dissipates quickly. This smells wonderful. One can detect piney, herbal hops and sweet malt. Before it warms it smells a little metallic.

Well integrated flavour with a surprisingly citric bent. This is a little oily on the tongue but with good carbonation and a definite lemon rind flavour with a pleasant herbal aftertaste. The alcohol is rather more apparent than I would like, but that does little to detract from this winner.

 472 characters

Photo of cheers2beers
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a thick mug

Appearance: This ale is copper tone with a slight off-white head that disapates fairly quickly.Meduim amounts of laceing can be found.

Aroma: Not as impressed with the nose as I would have liked.It was hops,piney,and slightly skunky.

Taste: The tongue discovers this beer to be hops in the start,malts on the sides, and slightly bitter in the finish.Not much alcohol detected,but it is present.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thin,fizzy on the togue,with lots of small bubbles throughout the entire mouth.

Drinkability: This beer is definitely a good christmas session brew.I know I could drink a few of these easily, but I will say it is a good thing this one is a seasonal.


 728 characters

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 10,208 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

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.