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: 10,213
Photo of carlosd74
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap at the Grey Lodge. Thanks to Scoats for the email alerting me to its tapping.

I do not have much to add to what has already been said about the 2006/2007 offering because most of what was said in the last few weeks (in reviews below) accurately describes the A-S-T-M & D. I wanted to add that this year's is better than last years because the hops did not hit me as overly "bitter".

I am not sure what makes this a holiday ale besides the timing of its release as it does not contain the spices found in the likes of a christmas /plum pudding.

I feel this should be offered year round because it is hands down my favorite IPA period! It is an exaple of perfection in a glass/keg and more brewers should aim for such high standards. It is hoppy yet never astringent like what you get in EVERY damn DIPA. The alcohol is very well hidden (so beware). It goes down so easy it is sickening.

I do not review many beers. I do not heap praise on many things but this beer is so balanced and really puts the "Craft" in Craft brews. Oh, to those who rated this ale below a 3.5 - You should get your head examined and go back to your Yuengling Lagers.


 1,182 characters

Photo of Beerwolf666
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I Almost feel like a spokesman for "Sierra Nevada Brewery" man...I can not help it though, IMHO~`it is between them and "Ballast Point" for the single best Brewery in America,I live on the East Coast,[about 5 miles from "Dogfish Head " Brewery] and while we have some very good to almost gr8 Beers here on the east coast,there is something VERY Amazing and almost supernatural about a lot of these West Coast Breweries~we cant touch em with a ten foot cattle prod man...they just kick our ass every way including sideways,it has to be the soil and local grown Hops,the freshness,the taste,the flavor of their IPA's/APA's are just fucking CRAZY! [ya..they kick our ass in weed too..big fucking time!] and @ about 15 bucks a 12ver for almost all their brews....SHIT! how in the hell can they be that fucking good?....[but I am soooo very glad they are!..hehe] cheers!

 865 characters

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

Serving Type: Bottle poured into the Sam Adams glass.

Appearance: Amber with light head on top. Nice lacing the whole way down the glass.

Smell: Smell is piney with some malt. Smells more like a double ipa.

Taste: Nice hoppiness with malt to balance it out. Just about perfect balance in my opinion.

Mouthfeel: Very silky, not slick. Leaves almost no bitterness on the tongue.

Drinkability: Due to the great balance and mouthfeel this is a very drinkable beer.

Notes: This is my favorite winter beer. Consistently good with a reasonable price compared to some other beers similar in quality.

 599 characters

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

Being that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of my all time favorites, I had to give this one a shot. I was not disappointed. Great foam, just the way I like it, not too airy and the bubbles were very uniform. A strong hoppy flavor with a bite, no bad after taste. For a strong ale it goes down pretty easy. I was a little disappointed that it was too similar to the regular pale ale. I mean if you're going to make a special brew I thought it should be much more different than what it was. It's also not for your beginner beer drinker, the flavor will be too strong for you and too bitter.

 587 characters

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

Pours a nice, clear medium amber brown with off white lacy head that held the sides like a champ and lasted a pretty good time. Aroma of maltiness, citrus, spice and floral hop. The taste of grapefruit citrus hop is very pronounced with a hint of maltiness in the background balancing this out. It has a relatively light mouthfeel with a nice hop bite at the end that makes you want more and more. Very drinkable.

 413 characters

Photo of chetripley
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A greeat beer year after year. 2014 is no different. A lot of hops and flavor, citrus but not sweet, spice but not peppery, bitter but not dry. A great combination worth coming back to year after year.

 201 characters

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

Oh, this really is exquisite. Reviewing this live, although I'm off to a late start with the glass halfway gone!

Pours a rich, melodious amber body with a frothy, creamy butter-colored head about four fingers thick. Screwed up the pour, but what can you do?

Smells floral, fruity, a little like jam croissant. Really impressed here, there are a lot of different scents here but unlike a lot of complex beers I've had the scents are very integrated, part of a cohesive whole instead of being a sequence of complimentary but disparate components.

Tastes a lot like it smells, but with a deep draw of malty, bready delightfulness. Hops come in briefly at the start and end, bitter and just right. Almost tastes like honey for a moment, and then it's gone. Need another sip.

Mouthfeel is similarly impressive. Carbonated to a crisp but defined perfection, it manages to prickle the tongue without being fizzy and manages not to be fizzy while not being flat. Just a hair more carbonated than a lot of cask ales I've tried.

Overall, this is a great beer. Definitely in my top five, and I'll be sorry when it's gone for the year!

 1,129 characters

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

This beer is my all time favorate seasonal i absolutly love it. pored into pint glass.

Appearence - Pours a beautiful orage amber with yeast particles present makes for a cloudy wonderland. Nice hoppy head with amazing retention on the glass.

Smell - Celebration smells very toasy to me hops are apparent but not overwhelming.

Taste - An amazing IPA indeed gets better as it warms a little. Has citrus tones and a perfect hops combination for an amzing palate dance. Also not crazy crazy bitter like some IPA brews can be, amazing to pair with Thai food.

Mouthfeel - The bottle conditioning sierra nevada uses rocks makes for a perfect active carbonation that feels nice as well.

Drinkability - Wow easy to drink but sneaks up behind you and stabs you. just like their torpedo this IPA is absolutly nothing far from amazing to me. I hate winter but when the celebration ale is gone im always dreaming of a snowy night...

 925 characters

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

This is my first review of this beer, but I have had several of them this winter season. They are too good.

Pours a hazy amber color that is not really transparent. The hops only have a slight citrus flavor to them, but they are well-balanced in the beer. The bottle says that this is a fresh hop beer. I get that taste from it, though I have no idea what that means. This is easily one of the best IPAs I have ever had, and it does not just fall into the obscurity of "pretty good" IPAs that I have had but could easily forget about it. After this beer goes off the shelves, it will be in the back of mind until next season when it is available again.

 654 characters

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

Golden amber with a thick amber head. There was a big pile of foam lingering long after I finished the beer. The head itself had more flavor than some beers I've had.
The smell is that of hops, mostly grapefruit peel.
Wonderful IPA, I could drink a gallon of this stuff...well, I'd like to be able to at least.
Celebration is deserving of an outstanding rating and at $7 for a six pack is one of the best deals in town.

 419 characters

Photo of SpecialK088
4.84/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a bottle into a New belgum ballon glass.

A-Slightly hazy copper color nice low head that laces well as you drink it.

S-Classic IPA with notes of spices, one of the best smelling beers ever, SN does hops so well.

T-As a hop head that enjoys the winter warmers this is heavenly for me. Amazing hop charecter IPA calssic flavors all here and a nice warming smpice middle that blends well with the IPA finish.

M-Nice medium body, very complex and well balanced.

D-I could drink this all year.

 505 characters

Photo of RoninTK3
4.84/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Weyerbacher pint glass.

A - Nice bronze/red color with a thin layer of white head. A bit hazy.

S - Florally, fruity hops. Smells like a great IPA.

T - Absolutely delicious. Very hoppy with a bit of sweetness. Fruity, bitter hops dominate this one.

M - A bit full and medium carbonation. Very drinkable.

This is a very drinkable, hoppy beer. This is one of my favorites and I look forward to it every year. It is very well balanced and absolutely delicious. One of the best IPAs around.

 523 characters

Photo of bsp77
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Ah, it is that time of year again. Actually, it is a little early, but screw it, I want me some Celebration.

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Rich reddish-amber with large creamy head and very nice lacing rings.

Smell: Citrus, grapefruit, pine, spice and semi-sweet toasted malts.

Taste: Perfect balance of pungent hops (grapefruit and pine predominately) and slightly sweet toasted malts that are reminiscent of a Red Ale. Turns bitter and spicy at the end.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, smooth medium body with a long dry finish.

Drinkability: My favorite IPA, although Stone and Two Hearted are damn close. Even though the balance is superb and it is immensely drinkable, I just can't quite give any IPA a 5 on drinkability due to the bitterness.

Edit from 2010 release: this does deserve a 5 on drinkability.

 856 characters

Photo of klikger
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Rich amber with some red in it. Heads up very nicely, and the lacing is extraordinary.

S - You know that feeling you had as a child before opening presents on Christmas morning? I reach that pinnacle of giddiness the first time every November that I let SN Celebration Ale's piny, spicy, hopped-up bouquet reach my nostrils.

T - Hops hit the back of my tongue almost instantly, but there's enough malt to almost balance them out, at least for a third of a second (and different years have produced slight differences in malt prevalence, in my opinion). Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg beg to be noticed among the excesses of grapefruit and pine, but they're quickly shoved out of the picture. This is a hop bomb, yet it doesn't feel as one-dimensional as it may sound. Finishes with sugary, malty goodness combined with a stunningly lingering bitterness.

M - Excellent consistency with near perfect carbonation level for the style.

D - The intense bitterness and moderate alcohol level may turn off some from sessioning, but this is as good a candidate as any holiday beer. Despite the overwhelming hop presence, this beer is balanced just enough by the sweetness of the malts to make opening a second one a foregone conclusion.

This beer is absolutely outstanding and is something which I look forward to on an annual basis. Cracking open the first of the season subconsciously flips my mind into full-on holiday excitement mode, and the next 23 or so help me to maintain my sanity over the subsequent weeks. I've had so many great brews over the years (and in the past month, for that matter) that this may sound hyperbolic, but Celebration Ale may just be my desert island choice. Highly, fanatically recommended!

 1,724 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was very surprised to find this on tap at the Marriott Newport RI hotel bar. I had asked if they had SNPA and they didn't. (What a great substitute!!) The bartender was a proud hop-head and is a lot more knowledgeable about beer than I am. A great chat as well as a surprise encounter with a familiar, top-notch beer. I didn't notice much difference between the draft and bottled versions. Bars are dark so my 56 year-old eyes didn't get to enjoy the apprearance as much as I do at home. The aroma, taste and mouthfeel are exactly the same as I encountered in my review of the bottled version. While I gave them the same numeric grades, I might hedge the comment I made about this being an outstanding session beer. A few of these and the "session" would definitely be effected!!!

 782 characters

Photo of slim2043
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 bottle

First time I had one (this year :))

Poured from bottle into Sam Adam perfect pint.

Pours a deep Carmel-orange w tons of head great lacing and good head retention as you sip it (or chug it or guzzle it). It smells of Christmas trees and baked cookies. It's very hop forward w piney piney hops at first then sweet caramel and toasted bread before the citrusy hops come in to close the sweet deal w a nice citrusy bitter finish that lingers. This brew is easy to drink w a slick yet sticky lip smacking mouthfeel. I look forward to drinking this beer every year and it never disappoints. One of the best IPAs you can get anywhere and top notch seasonal release I always seek out.

 691 characters

Photo of JEdmund
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(originally reviewed on 1-5-07)

Beautiful ruby/grapefruit juice red with a nice thick and frothy head.

Delicious hops are there, but what really surprised me about this beer was the really delectable aromas of malts. Such a rich and balanced smell.

Taste & Mouthfeel
This is up there with some of the most impressive and tasty beers from the get-go. It has a luscious full-bodied mouthfeel without being too heavy, and it also has a perfect level of carbonation. The hops are really present and in a great way, but the malts are also coming through balancing the whole thing out exceptionally. Again, I'm very surprised and pleased by the malt side of this beer.

This beer really made an impression on me and it far exceeded the hype. If it weren't for the semi-high ABV, I would have easily put three away the first night I had this. I'm really, really pleased with this and will certainly buy it every season from now on.

2007 Version

It's still such a good beer, but I liked the 2006 version better. And that's strange because 2006 was considered by many to be an off year. But I think it had a better malt profile to it than the '07's. Still a very drinkable and well crafted IPA.

 1,226 characters

Photo of stewart124
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2003 Celebration
I bought this case before Christmas and let this bottle sit a few months until ready posts about how the hops fade. I didn't want that to happen to my precious.

Pours a beautifully rich amber color with a huge fluffy head and even prettier lacing. Smells a very floral aroma and hints of citrus.
The taste is even better then I remember with a great big bite of hops and a creamy malt character. Notes of caramel and a slight pine taste. This truley is a taste explosion! One of the reasons I look forward to the holiday season. It doesn't get much better than this.

 588 characters

Photo of Quaffer
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2002 batch. Just purchased within the last week, so there was no aging done on my part.

Appearance: This beer was a slightly hazey, brown-to-copper color. It was not too light or too dark. The light tan head rose up huge (probably due to my clumsy, neanderthal-like pour) and sank down slowly, becoming rocky as it did so. There was a thin layer that persisted the entire drink. This beer left a huge amount of lace. Sometimes there were even big ol' chunks of head stuck to the sides of the glass. Good stuff.

Smell: Hops, hops, and more hops! Right after the pour, that was all I could detect in the aroma. After the beer settled down, I could pick out mild citrus notes and some caramel and malt.

Mouthfeel: This brew was much smoother than I expected. It had a big, full feel that was almost silky. This could also be partially attributed to my initial clumsiness on pouring, however.

Taste: Hop, hops, and more hops! (Deja vu, eh?) This beer had a huge hop flavor that was terrific. There were also notes of citrus and flowers, though those can be attributed to the hops as well. Some malt flavors were present, but there had to be much more than I noticed to balance out this beer. Overall, very refreshing and delicious.

As a hop head, I loved this beer. The balance might be swung to the hoppy side in this brew, but it does not make the beer harsh or unpleasant. It is almost like the malt/hops ratio is just on the edge of being *too* hoppy.

UPDATE, 08/05/2003

After a number of months in the bottle, this beer has mellowed somewhat. The hops has lost some of its edge and the brew has become more malty, gaining more caramel tones and a very noticeable butter component. This hasn't happended with all bottles, though. (I've burned through about 5 cases of the 2002 release.) Some are still pretty damn hoppy. Still, an absolutely wonderful beer. My supply for the year is almost exhausted, so I am eagerly anticipating the 2003 release.

UPDATE, 11/10/2004

The 2003 release of this beer was great, and the newly arrived 2004 is spectacular. I have to bump my ratings for this beer even higher this year. This is the most consistently beautiful, and almost perfect, beer that I have ever had. To have something of this high caliber in large quantities at a reasonable price is truly amazing.

Appearance wise, I've decided that this beer is perfect. The color, the light haze, the beautiful sticky head, and the incredible amounts of lace that are left behind make this beer look like it should be on the cover of every beer related publication ever produced.

I've also decided that the flavor is perfect also. Well, at least for me it is.

Drinkabily will also get bumped to a five because this is my staple beer when it is available. I will put away cases of this stuff and still yearn for more. When it is gone, I am immediately anticipating next years release.

This has to beer my favorite beer of all time.

 2,958 characters

Photo of FenwaySquid
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 12 oz short brown bottle, no bottling date but the year "2006" was part of the label design so we'll leave it at that, poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful clear copper color. The head formed a perfect 2 fingers and faded very slowly into a thin layer that never dissipated any further.

Aroma: Very hoppy.

Taste: Like the aroma, very hoppy. There's some sweet maltiness in the background, but it's barely noticeable. Besides that this one is all hops through and through, from beginning to end. The finish is very hoppy and bitter, leaving one with the desire for more.

Mouthfeel: Despite the strong tastes and relatively high ABV, it's very smooth. The carbonation is well balanced as well.

Overall: As IPA's go, it's tough to imagine it can get any better than this. I used to wonder why it was that everyone would rush out and buy case upon case of this stuff when it was released. Now I understand.

 950 characters

Photo of OysterMonkey
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-- Beautiful deep coppery color. full head and nice lacing on the glass

S-- Crisp hoppy aroma, very nice

T-- Delicious, complex. Strong hop flavor. Not exactly balanced, but enough malt character to hold the thing together.

M-- Light, smooth

O-- Fantastic beer. One of my favorites.

 287 characters

Photo of ironlung
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 edition 12oz into celebration ale pint glass...

A: Deep amber. Soft pour. Almost no head. Great lacing.

S: Lots of hops, yummy citrus and yellow pine needles.

T: People say they notice diferences in this brew's taste every year.I've only been drinking this one since the 2006 edition and it always has tasted uniform. I wait with baited breath every year for this gem to hit the shelves. Sometimes I can't wait and head to liquor wherehouse where they age them all the way back from '98 or so.(hope I diden't let a cat out of the bag!)

M: Just damn smooth, you cant go wrong with celebration!

D: Great winter session beer. Can't wait to find a great sale (like 9.99 a 12pack) and stock up the spare room!!

 715 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 BeerVikingSailor
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yummy....always one of my favorite "winter seasonals", although the hoppy IPA style is different than most, with very slight spiciness coming through the massive Cascade hops up front.
Poured into tulip style class, nice color!

A: very nice, creamy foamy head with lacing down the side of the glass, typical of SN brews

S: Wonderful smell, citrusy piney grapefruit, with tons of hop flavor, slight spice notes in vague backgroound

T: Delicious, so so good, could drink this one all the time, the alcohol does not hit you too hard...I am a lover of all things IPA style, so this one is a home run for me, always a wonderful holiday treat....will be getting at least one more 12 pk before they are gone!

MF: easy on the eyes, tastes like heaven, and easy in the mouth...this is one of the best of its type IMO

D: Goes down almost too easy...could easily forget about the 27 other winter seasonals I have collected while enjoying this knock out brew from SN

Give yourself a Christmas gift and pick up some from this great Chico CA brewery!

 1,042 characters

Photo of Stingray5
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Celebration Ale, where have you been all my life? Somehow this ale has flown under my radar, until now. It was worth the wait. Orange hues with a fluffy white head. Very clear and neat. Aromas billow from the glass, with fresh pine hops and malt undertones. Taste is oh so fresh - supreme balance of malt and mega hops. Superb. Fresh hop leaf finish.

Until now, I'd had no idea this brew even existed. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Had it on tap. Even better. Fresher, hoppier, tastier. This has quickly become one of my top beers.

 552 characters

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 10,213 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.