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

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Reviews: 3,466 | Ratings: 10,208
Photo of wailingwench
3.29/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I thought that this was going to be winter warmer style. Celebration should "fall" into the autumn/harvest category. They seriously need to remove the references to a cabin in the mountains cloaked in snow, the red coloring of the label, and the poinsettas. Bad SN. Bad.

This brew suffers from the hyped up syndrome. It is not stellar, interesting, unique, or seasonal to rate its high rating.

Eye Candy: Appearance here will be degraded due to misleading bottle label. Deep amber with thick 2 finger head. Superb retention and hop clumping. Risiing carbonation bubbles vanished halfway through, lending to the posssibility of a thicker brew.

The Nose Knows: Initial honey-like sweet malts that give way to a floral and finish piney.

Tongueland: Quick dash of sweetness rapidly killed by grapefruit-citrus and finishes resinous piney. Lingering but not oily. Nice clean finish.

Bender factor: I am partial to Souther Tier Harvest, it is a better brew than this. When SN wants to own up that Celebration is not a winter brew, I will try it again. Otherwise, it will not find a place in my fridge.

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

2004 Celebration Ale printed on the neck of the bottle.

Appearance: A hazy deep copper color with a crusty, light tan head. Nice lacings throughout the beer.

Smell: "West coast" hop oils, pine, and a floral citrus aroma definitely dominate. There is some carmel sweetness noted but it's definitely in the background.

Taste: Grapefruit, oily pine, and orange are the first things that jump on my palate. There is a subtle honey flavor that peaks through and then a warming alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, multi-dimensional, and very complex.

Drinkability: Suffers a bit just because I can't see making a session out of it. But a very nice beer.

Tasting notes: I have no other years for comparison and from what I've read, this isn't the best year. As far as I'm concerned, this is a solid IPA and dead-on for the style. I would definitely recommend it and if you have other years to compare it to, consider yourself lucky.

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

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2004

My first time seeing a six pack of this for the season. I was excited to finally pick this beer up. 12 oz brown bottle and served in a goblet.

Reddish orange haze color with a major head on top. Sudsy sticky lacings all over the glass.

Major hop whiffs on the aroma. Smells like a hoppy "west coast " (a la Rogue or Stone) treat. Fruity and hoppy nose.

Sweet maltness up front with flavors of caramel and fruit. Strong hop bitterness. Blends of different hop flavors are making a statement in this beer. Creamy smoothness with just a tad of alcohol warmth.

The best winter seasonal I've had yet this season. At a respectable 6.8 % ABV, this beer is another great Sierra Neveda offering around the holidays.


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Photo of wimpasaurus
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.
Gorgeous amber color with slightly reddish hues. Two finger head which dissippates within a couple minutes. Fair lacing. Floral nose and very sweet and hoppy. Smooth and rich mouthfeel with decent carbonation. Quite bitter (though in a most pleasant way, it's not an affront to my palate at all) and citrusy with slight hints of apple. All in all, this is a very solid IPA.

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

This beer has a beautiful reddish amber tint with a nice tan head. The smell is incredible, there is sweetness and flowery hops. The taste starts out mild, then the hops appear. The hoppy taste is great, very well balanced. There is a nice mild hop bitterness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good, I would prefer a bit more body but I can't complain, this is a great beer. The drinkability is excellent. It is so good that I wonder if I can get this in kegs?

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

Deep copper to amber hue, light offwhite head and light lacing on glass. Smell is rich of nutty roasted barley and sweet citrus fruits. Flavor is a solid sweet malt backbone with strong citric hop overtones. Medium body, not too sticky on the palate, crisply carbonated. Very easy to drink, SNCA is always welcome at my house during the holidays.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle. '2004'

Creamy 1/2" off white head that fades to a whispy sheet after a moment. Condensed lacing with above average strength. Clean and crisp reddish-copper in color.

Lemon, floral hops, and a bit of hop oils. A touch of wheat, but the main aroma is a bright, citrus filled hop nose.

Lemon and citrus hop flavors at first that give way to a huge grainy-hop flavor. The bitterness kicks in almost immediately and last until the pine and citrus filled aftertaste. A mild malt character is present that doesn't really stand a chance against the hop intensity. Filled with a strong hop flavor any hophead would enjoy.

Medium bodied; modest amount of carbonation. Extremely grainy on the palate regardless of the amount of hops used.

This is a hefty IPA given the 6.8% abv and the high hop character. An IPA fit for the winter season, but it's tough to drink this as a session beer. A 'good' IPA IMO that I feel gets a bit more credit than it deserves.

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Photo of HochFliegen
3.46/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice deep orange/copper color with a nice frothy head.
Smell was mainly a citrus hop like smell with a slight hint of a malt sweetness to it. Nothing to overwhelming. It was pleasant however.
The taste was good like most Sierra Nevada poducts. Flavor is dominated by the citrus hop like flavors with a nice amount of bitterness that last well into the aftertaste. A nice amount of carbonation as well makes your mouth tingle with joy.

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Photo of AndIWantYou
3.66/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I like the burnt orange color (despite my inherent bias that strong beers should be dark) and the head laces nicely. Smell is nothing really special for me, although I may be catching a cold--just smells like any random pale ale to me.

Full bodied with heavy carbonation, the beer feels almost like an electric shock if I let it linger on the tip of my tongue. Bare hint of alcohol note in the palate, but mostly I taste hops and feel a lingering warmth at the back of my throat.

Basically, an inexpensive but pleasurable experience... I love the winter warmer style and I'm so excited that the season has begun again!

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

2004 version: This beer pours an dark amber with an oily foamy off white head. Aroma is floral citrusy hops can't really smell anything else but it smells real good. Taste is a repeat of the citrusy hops, hint of toffeelike malt underneath. Long aftertaste of hops like you were sucking on a hop cone, I don't think it ever goes away but eventually you just stop noticing it. Great drinkability especially for the alcohol content. Just the thing to get in the celebrating mood. A great American style winter warmer IPA.

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

On-Tap @ The Washington House in Sellersville, PA! Fresh keg tapped 3 days ago! This brew is a light red/dark amber colour with a light tan head of foam that lasts and leaves nice lacing as well. The aromas are of fresh piney/citrusy hops and nice bready malts. The taste is hoppy up front, very malty in the middle, and dry and hoppy in the finish. This one really gives you some piney, hop burps! The mouthfeel is medium bodied and the drinkability is pretty awesome as well. A classic.

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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.

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Photo of oggg
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First, I think this was smoother on tap.

This beer pours a nice orange brown with a surprisingly nice thick lasting head. Clear.

Strong and beautiful floral hop aroma. Some citrus and pine.

Oooh, this beer has a surprisingly brutal hop bitterness up front. The bitterness fades quickly and allows the citrus and pine to come out. Harsh alcohol crashes the party in the middle. Finish still is fairly dry.

Overall: I could buy this beer and just keep it around for sniffing. The flavor is a bit unbalanced and rough.

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

2004 release, enjoyed on 11/08/04

Pours a deep chesnut with a tall, two-finger thick, light-tan colored head that receeded to open up in the middle, and leave itself clinging to the sides of the glass. Strong smell of hops instantly floods the nose, while a slight spicy aroma hangs around the edges.

As expected, hops overwhelm the tastebuds right away, letting a slight malty-sweetness to follow up. Hop bitterness isn't overwhelming, but is strong and solid here, and the carbonation is just perfect. While it is pretty smooth going down, it leaves a bit of an oily feel in the mouth I hadn't noticed from other IPAs, which is the only thing I don't like about this brew.

I hear so much about this beer (as well as SN's Bigfoot), and I've finally gotten to taste it. It does not disappoint. I regret only picking up a sixer now.

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

Found this beer on tap at the Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe. Wow. What a brew ! Beautiful amber/copper color with a rich creamy off white head. Smell is mostly hops and citrus. Very nice. The taste was unbelievable. Very hoppy with a nice fruity flavor. The fruitiness reminds me of a late harvest white wine without being sweet. Did I mention very hoppy ? The mouth feel was just about perfect. The carbonation is just right. Drinkability is dangerously high. If I can find a case of this stuff I will certainly buy it.

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Photo of carln26
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep copper color, very clear with a light cream colored head. Thick and rich with a delicate lace that settled on the rim of the glass immediately after the pour. The nose has a hint of floral hops, backed by a delicate malt aroma with just a hint of spice. The taste has a nice balance of hop and malt backed by some spice character. It has a medium mouth feel . Very drinkable. I now see what all of the fuss is about.

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

Finally got to get mine. Pours a ruby amber color with a nice off white head stays a while and laces nicely. Aroma is malt lots of hops, floral and ctirus combined some fruity aromas coming from citrus hops? or somewhere else like a big gumby bear of hops just smells juicey. Tastes of malt to start then hops lots of hops dominating this beer grapefruity bitter. Starts out lightly sweet with floral hop flavors blending with the sweetness then the bitter grapefruit comes up with carbonation leading the way and announces itself all else falls away to bitterness for a while then it fades some and sweetness is tasted again as it finishes. This beer leaves a nice hop resin coating on your tounge to remind you its time for another drink. Mouthfeel is a good solid meium drinkability is also good nice hop strong regular IPA very good but not quite a masterpiece. After finally getting to taste some I can see why people talk of cellaring it. I bet after a year in my cool basement it will have much more to offer then just hops.

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

One of the beers I have been looking forward to trying since I first started getting into craft beer almost a year ago. The label is somehow psychologically soothing, and I like it. It pours out of the bottle like beaten copper with a ruby tinge. A big bubbly head rolls up and clings in loving lace patterns in big chunks of froth. The vision of the beer itself is almost hypnotically soothing, watching the head slowly recede and leave those patterns of lace on the glass. Once I take a whiff I get somewhat of a wake up call though. Sweet sticky malts over-come by resinous pine aromas, lemon grass, and citrus rinds. The combination is almost candy-sweet, but brash and assertive at the same time. This beer tastes great as well. The malts are present and nicely sweet, but light on the tongue. The hops, obviously, dominate this beer…vibrating mid-pallate like I had a penny on my tongue. Resinous pine and bitter citrus rind present themselves toward the finish, very lovely. A great IPA with classic Sierra Nevada style. Let me say that I love this beer, but there are some behemoths in the IPA category that are really hard to touch, Sierra Nevada still does an awesome job with this beer.

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Photo of krberg
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4


Bright and red with an off-white head. Somebody might mistake this for a Killians if they had lost their nose in some sort of accident.

Sinus-sticking aroma! Mostly hop but a few sugary malt notes poke through now and then.

I must be losing all sensitivity to hops, because it doesn't seem super-hoppy like I remember (and love). It is bitter, and there are fleeting moments of flavor hops that appear as a slight tangyness. The malt backbone reminds me of savory pastries or mild nuts. There is a big CO2 bite in the first few sips which, I found, initially obscures the flavors.

Nice rich, full mouthfeel. Very beer-like.

I can and have had quite a few of these (not right at this moment). Especially when they are first released and in the late spring and early summer months when I happen on a leftover case or two.

These days it is getting harder to distinguish yourself in the AIPA category. I think that SN Celebration is getting a bit dated. It is a good beer, but I can have exciting fresh, local AIPAs all year now and that, as much as it pains me to say, makes this beer less magical.

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

(2004 Release)
The beer decamps the 12-ounce stubby brown bottle a limpid burnished copper color with a gigantic semi-creamy light tan head after its decomposition leaves a thick blanket of lace to obscure the glass. Nose has a slight hint of hops with a sweet malt backing, crisp and clean to the senses with the start sweet and the malt profile pleasant, the top is middling in its feel to the palate. Finish is striking in its acidity, the hops delightfully spicy and the aftertaste quite dry and long lasting, a long time favorite and one I look forward to each year, also had it on tap at Papago a few days ago, both are excellent ways to sample this great “Winter Warmer

(2003) Release
What a thrill it was to stop by my “most favorite” watering hole “Papago Brewery” and to find on the shelf this years release of this stupendous beer.

Once it departed its tomb (bottle), and filled my glass, I simply marveled at its wonderful translucent burnished copper color, the head a large crown of creamy tan, and as it slowly fades in to oblivion the lace becomes a thin curtain to seal off the glass. Hop floral aroma reaches your first, followed by the citrus like crispness, then the sweet malt backing ends this fantastic nose, start is malt laden and sweet, the top moderate in its feel to the palate. Hops are persistent in their spicy bite and the carbonation pleasing with the aftertaste dry and lingering. Being the “Beer Pig” that I am, I bought all they had tee hee, tee hee aren’t I mean?

(2002) Release:
The beer pours a translucent deep copper color with a magnanimous head and thick clinging sheets of lace. Hop floral tones at the front and the malt underlying also citrus crisp and fresh, ah that nose. Front malt and lightly sweet, the top middling and the finish moderately carbonated with a special hop spicy bite that makes this a great IPA. The aftertaste dry and lingering and I have a case now aging away, yummy for the tummy.

(2001) Release:
Pours a lightly hazy deep amber to copper color, the head is frothy, mountainous, the lace in thick sheets that cling to the glass till the very end. Nose is hop floral, malt takes second fiddle, quite "Sniffable". Front is malt, lightly sweet, top is moderate, the finish is magnificently hopped, potently acidic, the dry long lasting mouth feel, adds much to this beer. Ranks #286 on my current 1000 beer master list

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

-2004 release

Well, I was hoping this Celebration would be celebrating Kerry's victory, but no such luck. Hopefully this "sinful site" will still be here four years from now...

Appearance: Deep, clear amber with a tall, dense, slightly tan head. Great retention. Bright, fine carbonation. Decent lace and collar.

Smell: Hops. Citrus, pine, spice, pepper, floral. There may be some malt trying to break through, but it's going to have to try a bit harder.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly creamy, medium carbonation--nothing special. The malt does make a guest appearance in the flavor, but the hops are the star, no question. Big, booming and oily. White pepper and citrus rind linger long into the finish.

Drinkability: Fine, but nothing special at this point, anyway. It's a straightforward west coast IPA that's perfectly adaquate, but also perfectly average, which makes the feverish praise a bit baffling.

Maybe cellaring will make this one a star, but right now it's a fourth-round draft pick.

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Photo of taez555
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a slightly yellowish tan/white head with a beautiful ruby brown/tan body.

The nose was a sharp crisp citrus spike with an almost woody touch. Rich malt and a slight floral note make the nose extremely inviting.

The taste was full bodied with a rich caramel malt taste. Huge citrus, pine needle and black pepper hop taste. An over the top bitterness that somehow isn’t distracting at all. The malt perfectly matches the bitterness. The bitterness itself lingers but is not a palette killer by any means.

So simple, yet so amazing. Not a desert beer like the Bigfoot or a session beer like the standard pale ale, this one sort of falls in between. Simply amazing. Every year I think to myself I should buy a few cases of this to just have around all year round.

One a side note, I review the ’04, but shortly after tasted an ’03 I’d been saving since the past year. The year old celebration was just as good, but slightly more subdued and a little more balance, sort of like a fine wine. A different experience with aging, no better no worse, just different. I highly recommend both ways.

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Photo of Gasp100
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004: Bought a case of this today while in PA> This will of course be a yearly ritual from now on (along with Bigfoot, Old Ho, Hop Wallop, etc...). Pours a deep auburn color with a frothy tan head and thick lacing down the sides of the glass. The smell was grapefruit, pine and caramel. The taste is heavy on the pine cones with some sharp lemon/lime rinds with just a hint of sweet maltiness bringing up the rear. The carbonation was sparkling and the mouthfeel with bright and clean with a VERY dry finish. Man, this is hoppy (moreso than last year?). Overall, the drinkability factor is pretty high even with the dry finish and warming alchohol kick. I know that this ages really nicely so I look forward to a month or two of aging. Top notch Hops for the cold winter months.

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

Pours out a light brown/orange and sits a deep cherrywood in the glass with a large off-white head. Nice lacings all over the glass. When finished, the glass has become white with head stuck all over.

Smells nice and toasty with a good dosing of hops. Light citric aroma of grapefruit and orange zest. Malts are deep within and work well underneath. Hint of pine in the back of the nose.

Flavor is off with a rush of pine cones and heavy doses of grapfruit and lime. It's all hops, all the time. Malty sweetness is there, but hard to pull out. Toasted malts come out the most. Finish is bitter and loaded with hop cones. Lingering flavor of grapefruit rinds, leaving their oils all over the back of your mouth and throat.

Crisp and clean in the mouth with sparkling carbonation. Medium body and full of life.

One hell of an IPA. Worthy of drinking morning noon and night. A toast to Christmas!...err...Halloween!

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yahoo, Another year where Sierra Nevada has done it right. I just had a bottle of this years Celebration Ale. Hopheads will love this one. Aroma was pure hoppiness. Not overpowering like some Double IPA's but much better than your average IPA. I also liked the fact that even though you could tell it had some cascade hops in it they used other hops to give it a better flavor than just cascade only. Color was a nice light amber color. Head was good and full. I'm looking forward to the draft version now also.

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