Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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3,413 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Celebration AleSierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 3,413 | Ratings: 10,016
Photo of longpondbeerman
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2003 bottle edition pours a lovely, bubbly, rich amber color, topped off with a modestly frothy off-white head. Mostly hops in the aroma, with some grapefruit and piney background and just a hint of the toasted malts. The taste is exquisitely complex--initial hops and some light citrus and floral on the back of the palate. The taste lingers for a good while and then fades to a balance of bitter, swettness, and subtle smokiness. A bit too heavy on the carbonation I think, but the mouthfeel is good; it has some substance to it.

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

2003 edition of the Celebration Ale, in a 12 oz bottle

Apperance: very orangish copper like, nice white head initially, disappears shortly after.

Smell: smells very nicely of hops and spices, maybe some citrus in there also.

Taste: ooh the hops, so sweet, yet deliciously bitter. The floral aromas really take over. great amount of carbonation. very smooth.

This beer is a good example of a good IPA, good job sierra nevada

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

The 2003 bottle version poured a nice copper color with a nice off-white head that leaves a nice lacing around my glass. The aroma is quite hop-filled and has a very citris-like scent to it. The taste, like the aroma, is big on the hops. I really couldn't detect much in the way of malts due to the overwhelming hops. The mouthfeel was excellent as the beer had just the right amount of carbonation and it went down almost too smooth! This is a beer that you can sit back and enjoy several of in a sitting. Definitely something to look forward to each year from Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of canucklehead
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What this beer is to me is a bigger and badder version of their pale ale with more hops, more alcohol and more body. I like how this beer gets better sip after sip with a warming effect taking place after half a bottle. There are heavier winter warmers and more exotic winter warmers but this is one the best drinking winter beers.

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Photo of grynder33
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice healthy hop aroma, amber brown color, very hop filled first taste with a nice blend of malt and some spice, sweetness seems to disappear rather quickly and your pretty much left with the hops and resulting bitterness. A true hopheads Christmas brew, non hop heads need not bother

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Photo of 99bottles
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap a few months ago, but I thought it deserved a more attentive review, so I went out and got a bottle. 2003 on the neck label. Celebration Ale pours a nice amber-red color with a inch or so lofty off white head. Give it a few minutes and the fluff settles to a nice lumpy top, like a pancake before you flip it over. There is a strong smell of hops. Held up to the light, you can see abundant flecks of what I would guess are spices suspended in the brew. No sediment though.
The first taste is...hops. Did I just eat a Cascade salad? Progressive sips seem more subdued. There is decent carmel malt that is pretty much covered by spice. I'd guess the standard winter spice mix most places use: clove, allspice, cinammon. It's not really balanced. The hops bite, then the spices give an artifical lengthing of the hop bitterness. Not as sweet and rich as I think a winter seasonal would be. I guess its an IPA first, a seasonal second.
Mouthfeel is good. Not heavy and cloying, but with enough oomph behind it to let you know you're drinking a beer. Drinkability is good. I could easily have a bunch of these. I like this beer. I do. I'm just not sure it deserves such high ratings. If anything, it's well known and widely distributed. Almost as much as SNPA. I'm glad to try it about once a season, see if anything has really changed. Good beer.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice clear, amber pour with quite a generous pancake head. The nose is nicely hopped and has plenty of fruitiness kickin around as well...peach and apricot i'd have to say. The taste is big and hoppy right off the bat with underlying fruitiness and a nice malt backbone. Underlying caramel sweetness. This beer offers bold, up front taste and well balanced body. A very, very light and smooth mouthfeel make this one an easy drinker...dangerous with the 6.8% abv. The finish is of a lovely hop bitterness as the light fruity notes disapate towards the end. Great stuff!

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Photo of SilentSabre
2.86/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a copper like reddish brown with little head. Sweet smell with some spice and a bit chocolate. Alot of spice in the taste, but had a bit of bitterness to it as well. Had a little more carbonation than I was expecting but not too bad. No exactly something to write home about. Not totally awful, but not really impressed, either.

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

Burnt orange colour with a finger high off-white head. The beautiful lace elegantly wraps around my glass. Smells of citrus and hops.
I get that a hint of citrus in the taste. Then I'm slammed with that lovely hop bitterness I expect from a good IPA. Finishes off nice and bitter. Very full mouthfeel. This is my first celebration and i will certainly be getting more season.

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Photo of Jacobob10
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this beer has some HUGE flavor. It pours a deep orange with a small head but plenty of carbonation. It smells somewhat fruity. The taste is strong though. I can taste some orange and cinnamon with a slight taste of alcohol. A very filling beer that would be difficult to finish a six pack of. The hops really stand out here. Tons of flavor. This beer knocked me on my ass, but in a good way!


I have become wiser since my last review, so I thought I'd a few more comments. HUGE floral aroma and taste. This is one balls-to-the-wall IPA. I've bumped up my ratings a little bit after trying this again a year later. Definitely worth a try for yourself, but it still does knock me on my ass!

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

Pours a dark honey color with a nice-sized beige head. Leaves a great lacing down the side of the glass. The aroma is not overpowering, but what is there is beautiful hop bitterness. The aroma is a great precursor to the blast of hops bitterness that assaults the back of your tongue. An IPA through and through. A faint fruity taste teases your tongue in the background, amazing considering the strength of the hops. The aftertaste is more of the same, leading into happy hoppy burps that let you relive the experience. The mouthfeel is heavy due ot the carbonation bombarding the sides of your mouth. This is immensely drinkable. The pint is gone almost before you realize it. I love this beer.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the 2003 version. It has a cloudy orange amber color. Large bubbles in the head that leave a little bit of lace. An absolutely fantastic spicey and floral hop boquet. The flavor on the other hand did not give me the same hop jump. There was a hop bitterness followed by not a grapfruit citrus but more of a lemony citrus. Lemony like the finish to a lemon ice tea. I don't know if the cloudness in the beer was responsible for the muted finish to the flavor or not. I guess I will just have to wait to next year and try it as soon as it comes out.

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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.

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


Poured a fluffy oatmeal brown colored head left a coat of lace as it faded to a film. Light mahoganny colored beer with a steady stream of bubbles rising from the center of the chalice. Potent piney hop aroma. Wow, only two years ago this beer was the most bitter IPA I could handle. Piney grapefruit hop flavor sits atop a solid malt base. The finish is mildly bitter, solid for an IPA. A staple IPA, nice raw hop character.

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

Pours a very mildly cloudy Bronze color.

Smell is sharply hoppy, as an IPA should be. Malt doesn't get overpowered by the hops and shows up. Also has a fruity scent to it.

Taste is sharp hop, and malt, and fruit and spice; all that in the first sip! All the flavors dance on your tongue as you continue to drink it. This is some good stuff.

Mouthfeel is quite thick for its style.

Very drinkable, I also know where there are 4 more six packs of this stuff are. Bye! need to go to the store!

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Photo of ark57
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 - I always look forward to the release of this beer, it has the bitterness that I crave and it signals a great time of the year. It is light copper in color with a citus aroma. It is very bitter with enough maltiness in the body to round it out. Each sip finishes with a appetizing bitterness that leaves you wanting another.

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

Another beer in my "honey, we got our tax return, let's each get fifty to blow and put the rest in the bank," beer. Poured a reddish gold color with a slightly off white fluffy head. Some lacing. Smelled hoppy, imagine that. Cascade mostly if I'm beginning to learn this stuff. Quite tasty. Very hoppy, but not as hoppy as I was expecting. Less of a hops assault more attention to detail. Decent mouthfeel, moderate body with good carbonation. A little oily, but that rarely detracts. Definately drinkable. I can't have more than one in a sitting, but will definately look forward to this each year. My one downside, as it warmed, the alcohol became rather obvious and overpowering.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I am sampling this brew at room temp. I pour the beer into my pint glass and its color is clear orangish amber with some light sediment. This is the 2003 version by the way.
I get a soft fluffy off-white head that foams up easily.
Aroma is rich piney hops with some light spices.
The first sip gives me, an average body and medium carbonation, oh yea and lots of hops!
I get a brief sweet caramel hit up front and then hops roll in. SOme pine and some sour grapefruit. A little oily and chewy with a drying finish. This is a nice and smooth brew that is not overwhelmingly hoppy. Very nice to drink!

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

I've had two of these in my beer fridge since November and have somehow managed to resist them. I've been reading about how hoppiness decreases over time, which probably means (since I'm of the 'hoppier the better' school) that I should have had them as fresh as possible. Anyway, I'm about to remedy that oversight tonight.

Medium orange-amber with a moderate haze. The head is very large and is dark cream edging into ecru. Stiff and rocky, then lumpy, it sticks in chunks to the inside of the pint glass. It looks for all the world like a thick, frothy milkshake. Ultimately there are chunky rings of lace on the glass and a thick, lumpy film on top of the beer.

The nose is primarily grapefruit peel-like. Upon tasting, a soft (yet insistent) wave of hops hits the taste buds. Several varieties are probably present and I'm betting that Cascade is among them. The hoppiness is primarily citrusy and floral, with a hint of pine. There is also a background spiciness that becomes more noticeable as the beer warms.

There's a fairly large malt load as well. Alcohol is noted, especially after the initial wave of hops subsides (alcohol is almost undetectable in the 2007 Celebration). The finish is long, decently hoppy and ultimately dry. The body/mouthfeel is creamy and is reasonably full.

There's no question that Celebration Ale is an excellent IPA. It doesn't get extraordinarily high marks from me, however, because the hops aren't quite prominent enough. I know that this isn't a DIPA and that it would undoubtedly have been hoppier if I had drunk it sooner after bottling, but even so...

If you love IPAs that are hoppy with a nod toward balance, then start the Celebration early. Next year I'll crack open my first one on the day I buy it.

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I never drank 2005 Celebration Ale, thought 2006 Celebration was more maibock-like than IPA-like (woefully underhopped) and just enjoyed the hell out of a bottle 2007 Celebration a few hours ago. (re-reviewed 12/29/07)

When done right, this is clearly an expertly brewed ale. The malt backbone was nice and sturdy (mostly pale with a hint of caramel) and the citric hops were right up front where they belong. I was equally impressed with one of the smoothest, creamiest mouthfeels that I've experienced in a beer of this style in quite some time. So *this* is what Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is supposed to taste like!

scores for 2004: 4.5, 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.0... ... 4.15
scores for 2007: 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5... ... 4.3

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

Sampled at home

I must have left it in the freezer a few minutes too many, as the beer has frozen near the point of the bottle. Nothing adverse is noted as a result, however.

Pours cleanly into my glass, a creamy tan head one finger tall arises from the creation.
Excellent looking pale ale. A hazy gold-copper liquid which has presence in the glass. The head fades to a minimum.

Nose of lovely spicy/fruity cascade hops, sweet malt, and light/fruity alcohol notes. Similar to Two-Hearted, but less floral.

Taste is hops in front, for sure. A spicy rendition of the familiar cascade hop is apparent, but ultimately gives way to the expected citrus character. More sweet malt, some light yeast notes, and a clean bitterness that doesn't linger too long. Warms the belly.

All in all, a wonderful brew which should be done year-round, much like Bell's has wisely decided to do. Can't wait to find some more!

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Photo of rajendra82
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am blown away. Pours out with a dark amber orange body and an extra tall beige head that is creamy and smooth. One of the loveliest display of carbonation I’ve ever seen in a beer. There is a near constant stream of tiny bubbles rushing to the top the entire time I drink this beer. The aroma is pure hops with citrus, pine, spruce, and spices in every whiff. Body is medium with an appropriate mouthfeel enhanced by the tiny bubbles that coat your tongue as the beer warms in your mouth. Bitter hoppy taste is a delightful departure from the sweet and syrupy winter fare from others. Malt backbone is solid and creamy, but hops are front, center, and back. Many thanks go to nvsblman for this trade. Hopefully next year this beer will be on the shelves in Georgia. When I see it in the stores, I’m going to be celebrating for sure.


It is now fall of 2004 and by the grace of God, HB 645 is now the law of the land in the State of Georgia. I just picked up a Sierra Nevada Celebration off the shelf from Green’s. When pouring it in the glass I notice something that was missing last year. This year’s version is cloudy. The bottle conditioned release is much less bubbly than the force carbonated 2003 version. The mouthfeel also seems more soft this year, and the spiciness has gone down a notch. Still a classic IPA.

Update 2:

Got a 2003 bottle as part of Cellar Meat BIF 18 from pentathlete. After a year and a half, the hops had faded, and the beer could be considered balanced. The taste had taken on shades of an Old Ale at this age, with some chewy sweet malt. The hops lurked in the back as a peppery wispy presence. I much prefer the assertive fresh taste, but still much to like here.

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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.

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

Golden/brownish color body with a white head that leaves a smooth looking lace. Smell is spicy and hoppy with fresh green plants, leaves, rainforest. Also some florals and citrus aroma come through. Taste is very hoppy but not off the wall. Good malt taste upfront and a strong, but pleasing bitterness in the end. Also, slight coffee notes in the aftertaste if you look hard. Im not a big fan of IPA's but this one is pretty good.

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Photo of jwilli7122
4.92/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

hazy golden copper color with smallish white head which leaves crusted layers on glass. superb smell- strong floral hops, intense caramel and earth. taste is complex and inspiring...caramel, pine needles, earth (especially), burnt wood, orange peel, pineapple, coffee...floral aftertaste. Medium mouthful that is sharp when cold, and more mellow, smooth and oily when slightly warmed. Near perfection.
a female friend of mine took a sip of my celebration, made a face and asked why i would "pay extra" for something "so harsh." I paused and, content with my answer, did not reply.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The holiday season means there are some great brews, and I can't thing of many better than this. I enjoy searching for this beer as the holidays approach. The snowy cabin on the label gives a feeling that if I was snowed in with this beer, life would be good. Pours a amber/reddish liquid with a great off-white foamy head. The head stayed around for quite some time. Great lace around the glass as time wore on. Smells of citrus, almost spicy. No mistake about it, this is going to be hoppy. The taste is as good as it gets. Hints of a sweet malt surrounded and overtaken by citrusy hops. Plenty of Cascades in this one. This is a hophead's delight. Great medium body. This may not be exactly be a session beer, but since it is a seasonal, make it one! I almost wish that this was a year round beer, but I am glad it is not, so I can appreciate it and look forward to the holidays. If you like hops, you must check this one out.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 10,016 ratings.
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