Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,465 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: 3,465 | Ratings: 10,193
Photo of oracle
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

20 oz draft pour served in a traditional english pint glass.

Beer pour a hazy golden brass/bronze with a dense slightly off white head that left a slight amount of lacing

Aroma was hoppy citrus and pine. Some ripe mild fruit in there as well.

The more Sierra Nevada ales I drink, the more they are all starting to taste the same to me. Maybe they use the same kind of hops in everything, but I think I'm beginning to detect a distinct "SN" profile to most of their beers. Upon my first sip of this beer, my first thought was "Hey, this tastes kinda like the Bigfoot barleywine, with a lot less intensity".

Still tasted pretty darn good, with lots of hops in front and sweet fruity middle with a dry bitter finish.

 725 characters

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

Pours a deep orange/copper with a orange-white head that clings to my glass. Smell is very hoppy, but the malt backing is in there, too, along with some orange. Hoppy taste with some fruit and caramel thrown in for good measure; these citric notes are heavenly. Medium-bodied mouthfeel with a great hop aftertaste with lingering orange notes. It's downright tasty, but I usually only have one or two in a sitting; lot of complexity in there to think over.

 455 characters

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

Celebration Ale is copper in color with a foamy, creamy head. The head sticks around till the end of the glass and stays fairly foamy for most of the glass. Aroma is entirely of strong citrusy hop smell. The taste is big and hoppy. Strong bitterness in the finish, which lasts a good while after the sip is complete. This is maybe just a little too bitter for it's own good, a little more tasty hop flavor profile might kick the taste up to a 4.5 in my rating scheme. Then again, this is only my 3rd IPA, so what do I really know. Anyhow, I still very much enjoyed Celebration Ale and will be picking it up again next winter.

 625 characters

Photo of newyawker
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a opaque bronze with a big haze and a great, big old head of cotton-candy froth. Smells like the hop forest. Other fruity things going on, and a beautiful, up-front hoppy taste. Bits of malted milkball meets caramel apple flavor notes, and then a bitter, hoppy finish. Not that easy to drink, but very good.

 313 characters

Photo of babydoc
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Methinks I'm becoming a hophead. The 2004 edition pours into a pint glass an orange/amber with a three finger creamy white head that is dense, frothy, and looks stiff enough to sit things on it... it persisted nicely, and left lace on the sides until the beer was, sniff, gone... I'm not sure why others have noted no head at all. The nose jumps at you with fruity citrus hops, a little orange sweetness there, too. Taste is sweet malt backbone that is overwhelmed and bubbling over with citrusy hops. The mouthfeel is creamy initially, a little thinner as I reach the end. The light carbonation seems to bubble on the tongue, and the hops persist to leave the tongue tingling with a touch of bitter long after the beer is down the hatch.

 738 characters

Photo of aquatonex
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pleasant burnt orange with minimal head, decent carbonation. Very good lacing throughout. Smells of toasted hops and a little dark malts. A medium-strong hops is most noticeable in the taste along with a heavier body than regular IPAs. Although I'm not a fan of the heavier hopped brews, this definitely had more to offer.

 330 characters

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

On tap, this beer is an appealing amber color, with plenty of lacing. The hops are quite evident up front(both in smell and taste), but do not overwhelm the balance of this beer. There is a counterbalancing fruity, almost citrusy taste. What amazes, considering all the complex flavors, is how smooth this beer is(proof that smoothness does not equal blandness). A true classic, by one of the great pioneering craft breweries.

 426 characters

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

Appearance – This poured a dark orange in color out of the tap. It had some brownish notes as well. The head was puffy and very pretty. It showed retention the whole time I drained the pint glass and left some awesome lacing.

Smell – The nice, sharp pine is what I first noticed in this nose. There was also some light citrus and maybe a few other hoppy notes. The healthy malt base gave this IPA a very good balance.

Taste – The hop profile is very complex and reflects the scents found in the nose. The toasted malts come up slightly bigger at the taste and have a small nut compliment. As I said before, this is a very balanced brew.

Mouthfeel – This one is a solid medium bodied, on the bigger side mind you, with a terrific lingering aftertaste.

Drinkability – One of the more quaffable beers that I’ve had. On-tap this thing is addictive.

 862 characters

Photo of tweeder263
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a beautiful amber with a nice 2 finger head medium carbonation.Smell is nice and hoppy.Decent hop filled taste, with a little alcohol warmth towards the end.Mouthfeel was ok just a little thin for me.A good beer ,theres other brands id probably prefer first,but id never turn one of these down.

 304 characters

Photo of apintofknowledge
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Last year (2003), I picked up a six pack of Celebration Ale after hearing so many fellow beer-lovers exalt it's virtues. I only drank one bottle... actually I couldn't even finish the bottle. At that point, I had never had so much hops in my life. Way too bitter for my taste buds. What was everyone so excited about? How could they drink this?!?

A year later, after growing to love a number of brews that I once found too bitter, five remaining bottles of Celebration still awaited. I was curious to see what a difference a year makes.

I'm not sure if it was the year of aging or coming to enjoy the occasional beer with such a strong hops presence, but the Celebration certainly was more drinkable this year. Sure those hops were almost overpowering, and my taste buds had enough after two bottles, but it was enjoyable. I could taste a little orange/citrus flavor, and a touch of sweet malt along with the very persistent bitter and flowery hops. The alcohol taste was still there too, though I assume after a year it was somewhat reduced. Maybe I'll let those three bottles sit for another year, and taste the results.

On a pairing note, drinking Celebration while grazing on a variety of Christmas day appetizers, I found it pairs really nicely with strong cheeses. Not only does the cheese cut some of the bitterness of the hops, but the ale seems to bring out more flavor from the cheese.

 1,404 characters

Photo of cncbofh
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

What a little beauty. I had not heard of the Celebration Ale from anyone - so when I first purchased it, all I could think of was a typical Christmas ale... something with spices, lots of alcohol and a deep chewy flavor.

Holy cow! It's a Christmas Pale Ale and it's killer!!! The hops are powerful. Strong spicy citrus scent - can use this thing for a room freshener. Hope you like the smell of hops.

The taste is a small bit of malt swallowed by a humongous overload of citrusy hops. There is alcohol present, but it's not overwhelming and is well balanced with the brew. God this smells good and tastes great. Excellent beer for around the tree - or menorah, or buddha... hell, even atheists can enjoy Christmas with this one.

 734 characters

Photo of MuddyFeet
2.73/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Waiting for the backlash on this, but I just don't like the taste of wood polisher... errrr... pine in my beer. Wreaths stay on the door, they do not belong in my beer. While I do very much enjoy the hops in the beer, the pine just kills any joy I get from this beer. There are also hints of caramel and spices, but the pine just shoots them down in my opinion. I will admit this is not as pungent a pine as I've had compared to other beers, but I can still taste it.

 467 characters

Photo of Guinness4me
3.03/5  rDev -27%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In an attempt to not offend the hop heads of the bunch, I'll be as kind as possible with this beer as it does seem like a good example of the style.

The color was a lovely golden/orange color with a white head full of tiny bubbles. The smell was 110% hops to nearly the point of a flowery perfume.

The taste was all hops with a slight, sweet malt and a very bitter finish that tended to linger on the back of my tongue.

The mouthfeel was neither offensive nor spectacular but again is indicative of the style. I'm glad to get this one over.

 550 characters

Photo of mrfosters
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow. What happened? Maybe I got a mishandled six pack. Don't get me wrong this is not horrible ,but it's certainly nowhere near the past versions.It poured a dark amber ,but with very little head and the lacing was non exsistant.It seemed very subdued in all aspects ,not really spicy ,not hoppy, not much more than an average IPA.I look forward to this every year and sadly ,this year I was dissappointed.But as I said , maybe ,I hope, I just got a sixer that was somehow mishandeled . I'll see if I can still find this somewhere else and rerate it.

 550 characters

Photo of hammerhead
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2004 version is as good as always. Strong pine resiny aroma and sharp bitter taste. Centennial hops at their best. I finally found this beer at Whole Foods in the Chelsea section of Manhatten after searching around my local distributors for weeks. This beer is consistent year after year. Too bad it's not available year round. A rock solid IPA that is very drinkable despite it's 6.8 ABV. With all the over the top seasonal beers out there I've tried, I always find myself going back to this classic IPA. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This beer will go down in the annals of American brewing as the classic IPA that all others are compared too. Please Sierra Nevada, make this available year round!

 708 characters

Photo of CBFanWish
4.41/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fantastic offering from Sierra Nevada. Pours a bronze colour with a thick foamy head. A sweet malty aroma wakes you up with hints of pine. The taste is full of wonderful flavours. Pine, grapefruit, and even grassy notes rock the tastebuds like a mo fo. Great stuff. A great beer for just about anything.

 305 characters

Photo of maccroz
4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wow! This beer packs a punch on every level. The appearance is perfect. Dark and golden with a small but evident head. It smells seductive enough to inspire a pavlovian watering of the mouth.

The first sip is what will get you though. It's a flood of hops and so many other tastes that you can't put your finger on any of them. From the moment it hits the tip of your tongue to the moment you swallow it's a safari of tastes and sensations.

I doubt you'd be able to drink too many of these in one sitting though, not only is it complex on the tongue, but it also packs a 6.8% punch.

Give this one a shot for sure!

 623 characters

Photo of rowew
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one was on tap at Falling Rock - so my review isn't as detailed as usual. All in all a fantastic beer that I look forward to having again in the future. Poured a beautiful bright amber color with a nice head that left a lot of lacing as it drained. Fresh hops and citrus flavor dominate - with just enough malty undertones to keep it reasonable (but this one is definitely for hop-heads). Great creamy mouthfeel

 416 characters

Photo of Crotor
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2003 bottle, cellared until consumption in mid December, 2004.

Pours dark amber, rather cloudy with chunks floating around - I must've kicked up the sediment. Great, dimpled, off white, lingering head (1 finger).

There's a slight pine-resin aroma, and a bit of grapefruit - the hops are subdued but still there. Not much else to the aroma. Really kinda underwhelming, actually. The volume on the hop aroma is turned down, but the volume on the malt aroma hasn't been turned up.

My first impression when I drink is of the creamy, smooth mouthfeel. There's a nice bit of caramel underneath it all, but it hasn't really opened up yet (will it?) Damn, this stuff feels downright creamy right now - great mouthfeel. Ooh, but now those citric hops are rearing their head; amazing, the power left in 'em.

Overall, a nicely incorporated, balanced flavor. However, I find myself missing the full strength of the hops in fresh Celebration. This is my first experience with cellared Celebration, and though it's certainly good, I simply prefer it fresh. I think I'm gonna go pull those six-packs of '04 back out of the cellar, and drink 'em this season instead...

 1,165 characters

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

What can I say that has not allready been said, except that I can't get it here in NC and that makes me want to cry. Winter just won't be the same without this staple of Holiday enjoyment. Perfectly balanced, hoppy, spicy, and good enough to drink all night. Whenever the subject of good winter brews comes up, this immediately comes to mind. Good good!

 353 characters

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

2004 Celebration: bronze colored liquid with an off-white, firm, rocky head. Sticky lace. The beer is cloudy from yeast sediment. The aroma is thick of piney hops. It’s an intense aroma: a wake-me-up peppery, outdoorsy, full-on Northwest smell. Hint of malt underneath the hops. Tongue numbingly bitter, with a dry, crisp, very refreshing finish. I’d love this beer year-round.

 379 characters

Photo of JackStraw22
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(2004) Beer pours a crisp golden/amber with a nice 1-2 inch foamy head, good retention, nice lacing too. There's a pleasent "ale" aroma. Fruity esters from the hops are present, I can smell some nutmeg and ginger too (or else I've just been eating too many cookies lately) I think I can smell some malt too, but not much. Very hoppy as I would expect from SN, phenomenal!! Wow! Spicey, piney not too sweet. This beer tastes like Christmas. I want one of these while opening my presents this year (which will hopefully be more of these). Exceptional drinkablity for the hoppiness, could go with these all night.

 610 characters

Photo of BrewAskew
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Good stuff. Pours to a creamy white head and orangey color. Aroma is hop-dominated with a good deal of pale maltiness shining through. Flavor is bittersweet, quite well-balanced for an American IPA, strong bitterness with a sweet malt backbone holding it up. Very pleasant IPA aftertaste and mouthfeel. Wow. I bought this not knowing it was an IPA (I had bought Pyramid IPA to serve at the Xmas party along with this beer, Czechvar and my homebrewed stout). It is excellent. It has the right balance of slightly toasty-caramel maltiness and the generous bitterness, flavor and aroma of the finest U.S. ale hops. Worth the extra money. A sixpack of Celebration Ale costs over $9 in OK and I consider it more worth the expense than the $7.50 for any Pyramid beer, incuding the IPA!

 779 characters

Photo of sabrills70
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beautiful medium amber with a huge head and great lace. Smell of fruity citrusy hops. Great floral hoppiness. Taste of fruity hoppiness with a nice amount of bitternes. Not too bitter though. A great example of an American IPA. No detection of the 7% alcohol anywhere. Its mouthfeel is very nice. Not too light or too heavy. Its drinkability is only slightly above average because I just can't drink a bunch of IPA's in a row. I enjoy them very much, just not a bunch at once. I will savor the other 5 of these through the holiday season.

 546 characters

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

Bought a single of this at the local beer store for $1.59. An excellent beer for anytime, not just the holidays. Probably the best IPA I've had in my relatively limited experience (though I have a Dogfish 90 Minute waiting for me in the fridge). Nothing special about the appearance, typical light brown color with nice, lasting head and ok lacing. Smell is very fruity - I can't place a finger on which particular fruit though. Something citrusy, like lemon or grapefruit even. Man, this is a hoppy beer. Might be too bitter for some, but I love me some hops. Drinkability is way up there...despite the 7% ABV I feel like I could easily make this a "session" beer. Overall quite impressed and pleasantly surprised, as I'm actually not a huge fan of the other Sierra Nevada products I've tried.

 794 characters

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.