Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

10,231 Ratings
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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Ratings: 10,231 |  Reviews: 3,468
Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a SA Perfect Pint.

A: Pours a clear, light amber with a billowy cap of white foam.

S: Rich piney and grapefruit hop boquet. There is a bit of pepper as well.

T: Dank, bitter hops that hold nothing back. This is all pine needles, coriander and bitter graperfruit rind.

D: Crisp dryness makes this one very drinkable. Balance is cast to the wind, but the alcohol is hidden.

Overall: What more to say? This is a great West-coast IPA. Its wonderful that this is so widely available because this is one damn fine brew.

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Photo of patm1986
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

tinted orange. thick, foamy, immovable head. great looking.

intense citrus, mostly grapefruit, up front, followed by pine, apple, then back to the citrus with some orange, and a bit of lemon. also very "meadow-y," with some mild dank and hop-heat.

excellently rich with salty, briny hop oils: flowery, grassy as hell, tha' dankness, soapy.

even more bitter on the combo sweet /dry progression in the finish.

full bodied single ipa. one of the classics. thick with hop residue with a complex finish. it seems that every year, regardless of the popular wisdom devoted to the spices of thanksgiving and christmas in beer, this is one of the top "holiday" beers. it's a stunning example of American hops in the California style of brewing.

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Photo of BigCheese
4.66/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled about a month ago, So Pysched to try this years batch.

A: Beautiful clear copper, nice 3 finger pillow of a head. Head stays, and leaves thick marmellow looking lacing with each sip. Impressive.

S: Grapefruit, lime, raisins, yum.

T: Beergasm, great citrus hop flavor, initial sweet grapefruit, then more of a lime/pine-y flavor, rounds into a more medicinal/juniper flavor. Wet on the palette. Not too bitter, malt prescence is a well hidden backbone that is with you the whole time. Really elegant flavor

M: Great oil/syrupy quality to it. Incredibly drinkable, I could probably crush a 6pack which is not typical for hoppy/7% beers. Carbonation level is pretty high.

O: Its confirmed, this is my favorite IPA, maybe my favorite all time beer. Great price, well balanced, a very aesthetically crafted. For a brewer as big as Sierra to put something out like this is really impressive. Time to listen to Christmas music and count down the days til next years release.

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Photo of UnknownKoger
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage. Finally getting around to trying this for the first time. Poured into a pint glass

Appearance is good. Light brown. Vigorous pour yields a good head which calms down to a thin ring

Smell is delicious. Sweet, sappy pine aromas with a good malt background lurking in there. it's definitely a California christmas.

The taste is actually pretty mild. Not as hoppy as the aroma lets on, but it's still got a great hop kick, especially in the back of the tongue. Some spicey notes are hidden underneath it all. Very delicious

Mouthfeel is great. Very easy and pleasant to drink.

Overall, it's Sierra're pretty much guaranteed a delicious beer. Very good and will definitely be buying again

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Photo of livewire05
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark amber color, and is a cloudier than many of the IPA's I drink. There's a think off-white head and good lacing that remains long after the beer is gone. The smell has the appropriate pine needle scent of hops, but it isn't overpowering. Taste wise, this beer really shines. Every sip is a crisp bite of hops. One of my favorite brews, and I look forward to picking up a few cases every winter.

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

I have been looking forward to this since last winter. I had my first SN Celebration about a year ago and it is the beer that opened my world to more hopped up beers.

Poured from 12 oz.bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Nice thick white head & beautiful amber color

Smell: Hops & Pine - Extremely fragrant and fresh. Slight hint of citrus

Taste: Hops Malt Citrus Balanced & Fresh Full of flavor

Mouthfeel: Crisp & fresh not overly heavy, just about right for me. Nice dry finish

Overall: 2011 is as enjoyable as the 2010 was for me. Still one of the top 10 beers I have tried.

On a side note: I own a beer drive thru and I set a six pack of 2010 in a dark corner of the cooler back last year to taste along side the 2011.

The 2010 has mellowed quite a bit and the hops is not so much in your face as the fresh product but still full of flavour and pours a very similar head as the fresh 2011. I still like it!
I think will set at least 2 cases back later this winter for next
year to sell. I would be interested to hear from someone else who has done this and hear their opinion.

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

Celebration was poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance- The head is almost silky and is about one and a half fingers of off-white with a yellow tinge. This one leaves great sheets of pillowy lace. The body is the color of orange rind with amber highlights.

Smell- The hop notes are estery and have a touch of floral to them. There is some slight citrus backed up by a sweet caramel malt. It smells great, but it is a little too subdued.

Taste- The hop bitterness is really great on this one and lasts throughout the drink. There is some sweeter biscuit malt accompanied with citrus and grassy hop flavors. It is a refreshing IPA.

Mouth feel- This one borders on a light and medium body. It certainly is not the creamiest IPA out there by any stretch of the imagination.

Overall- This is a good IPA that I would recommend to anyone. The main thing to adjust would be the mouth feel by fixing the carbonation up, also get those great hop notes to really show up on the palate.

The malt character is nice, but getting more of that floral hop in the flavor, for instance, would only help this IPA's score.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

served on tap in a shaker "pint" glass.

appear bright reddish copper in color, with thin white head that fades. aroma is dominated by hops, while the taste is a nice mix of caramely malt and a crisp bite of hops. medium body with medium to high carbonation, drinks fairly easy.

overall - I'd describe it as a hoppy amber ale.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Huhzubendah.. Thanks Matt-

Review from notes:

Pours a burnt amber color w/ a one finger cocoa head. Somewhat cloudy in appearance. Good lacing on the side of my glass. The nose is mainly pine, hops, grapefruit and malt. It's nice, and farily balanced. Taste is the same profile. It could use a little more hops in my opinion, just a little weak on that aspect. A little more hops and the taste would definitely get bumped up. Feel is crisp, medium bodied, and hoppy/carbonated- probably the best aspect of this beer. Overall, a very solid brew! Cheers.

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Photo of fmccormi
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap into a 20oz nonic pint at the Blue Tusk in Syracuse, NY.

Appearance (4.5): There’s a thin, off-white head falling to a haze that leaves some fuzz on the surface of the body, which is a deep copper and more or less clear. Very attractive.

Smell (3.5): Lightly toasted malts, some grapefruit and some pine. I’d like some more in the nose, but it’s pretty good stuff regardless.

Taste (4.5): PINE + DANK. Some mild caramel sweetness underneath the hop profile, but nothing will undercut the hops here. Toasted and biscuity, with a light caramel component. Hops are lemon, pine, and dank weed. So good, though. The hop profile kind of morphs from the aforementioned combination into a mix of grapefruit and pine. Bitterness cuts through all of it, with a long but mild, pine finish. Yeast? Classic Chico, totally neutral.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Active, fine carbonation—slightly prickly, and on the lighter side of a medium body. This is very, very hard not to drink faster.

Overall (4.5): This is the archetypal fresh hop IPA, in my mind. All beers of this style aim to be something akin to this: even if they’re aiming to be more or less than what this beer is, they’re aiming for something in the region defined by this beer. Absolutely wonderful.

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Photo of jegross2
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh 20`11 vintage bottle served slightly chilled in a Sam's Adams glass.

Appearance: 4 inches of bubbly, frothy head on pour. Very carbonated carmel-amber color. The see-thru of this beer falls somewhere between transparent and translucent. Carbonation fuels the foamy head for several minutes, leaving thin layer once the pour settles in.

Smell: A Lemony-soap bitter aroma dominates the nose. There is also a malty citrus smell at the front.

Taste: This beer is unlike most IPAs I have drank. The taste has a malty-caramel backbone, and the lemon-citrusy bitterness is very balanced. The finish is malty and slightly lemony, but not bitter at all.

Mouthfeel: Sticky medium-body beer with lots of refreshing carbonation.

Overall: The taste was very unexpected and unique for the IPA's I usually drink, which tend to be hop bombs. The malty-balance is not very apparent by the nose, but a pleasant surprise. This is an IPA that the more casual drinker can enjoy.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours a really pretty, small particulate-laden copper with an off-white head that leaves nice lace. On the nose there is a nice grapefruit note with an underlying caramel note. In the mouth there is a good deal more malt than I was expecting. This is fresh, but the hops just aren't as present as I would have guessed. The bitterness that the grapefruit-centric nose would seem to indicate simply isn't there in the quantity I expect in a fresh hop ale. That's not to say it's a bad brew, because it isn't, it's just a little too balanced for my taste. The finish has a bit of bitterness, but the caramel malt sticks around together with it. The body is medium and a little sticky to me.

Overall, this is a decent fresh hop beer, but doesn't compare to the Deschutes Hop Trip I had last night.

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

Back for the re-review and checking this out at a time of release. Vintage 2011 poured into a nonic pint glass.

Appearance is not different, still looks great.

Nose is a soft hop green, small brown sugar, and small sweet cloves and nutmeg. Malt angle seems toned down a bit. Sense of cherry fruit.

Taste is a good hop pine, but also a real chili hot sting in the finish. Finishes sweet and malt rich also. Body seems a little rich as well, but nothing too sweet or cloying. Good hop presence on this, much of the brown spices and fruit sense on the nose doesn't come through on the palate as much with the noticeable hop presence that takes over.

Overall much better fresh by far, really enjoying this much more than in the past. A hoppy Christmas beer, enjoying that.


Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Vintage 2010. Seems kind of late doesn't it? How is this going to turn out for a beer that comes out in September? Well we shall see I guess.

Out of the bottle a VERY large head is created that is off white, slightly soapy, and has some REAL good retention. Body color is a solid perfect amber just barely getting into red. Some small carbonation from the bottom and some slight opaqueness. This looks real good! Some sheet like clumps of sticky lacing too.

The first thing on the nose is some sweet cherries and nutmeg. Christmas like spices, and a small hint of pine. No wonder this thing is a seasonal December beer, it feels like Christmas already! Dry spice and pine with a hint of cherry fruit. Just great I could dig this smell anytime.

Taste is lacking. A muted hop and somewhat wet body. I am a bit disappointed from what the nose was hinting at. That pine like sense comes on the finish, but there is no body or malt backbone on this at all. I'll give it some props for displaying some hop finish.

Well it's a little disappointing but I sure would like to try this again when it is in season and I will for sure! I was debating about trying this at such a time but couldn't help myself. No regrets, looking for better things come September! I will try it again for sure!

4.5, 4.5, 3, 3, 3.5

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

Bottle served in a pint glass.

Appearance: Copper colored with a super thick and creamy head that lingers.

Smell: Sweet malts with a complex mix of hop aroma. Hop aroma is a mix of pine and citrus with a little bit of grassy aroma as well.

Taste: Extremely well balanced mix of sweet bready malt and piney, grassy hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body.

Overall: An excellent wet hopped IPA. I may need to go back and buy another 6 pack of this stuff.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My wife picked up a case of SN Celebration Ale for me while I was out of town.

Appearance- copper color, pretty thin head

Smell- piney hops, very nice

Taste- grapefruit, piney and grassy hops, slightly bitter finish, well balanced

Mouthfeel- medium bodied

Drinkability- I thought it was very good. Obviously I'm drinking it again because I love it.

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Photo of BeerFiend2002
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into draft glass.

A- Poured an amber color with two-fingers of off-white frothy head. Left some sticky lace on the glass.

S- Citrus, grapefruit, and piney hops come together to form a nice bouqet on the nose.

T- Grapefruit, piney, and grassy hop notes. Is a hoppy brew, but there is a bready almost doughy malt backbone that lifts these hops up and carries them to a nice dry bitter finish.

M- Nice surprisingly rich and full-bodied for a west coast style single IPA. Perfect for me here in these colder months here in the Northeast.

O- This is a fine beer. This is the first time I've had this one and I enjoyed it. It gets good reviews and can understand why. Not a change your life type of beer, but better than most.

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

Sierra Nevada, I’m ready to be blown away – of all the harvest ales, I’ve heard this is the best. It’ll take a lot to beat out Founders, though…

Brewed a month-and-a-half ago (according to the batch code, this was bottled on September 25, 2011).

A: Classic, gorgeous IPA presence: the body is a shining burnt-orange, almost crystal clear. Something unusual, though, is that there looks to be some sediment in there, possibly whole-hop residue (here’s hoping). At any rate, they ride lazily around the swift stream of rising bubbles in the center of my glass, adding a unique haze. And then there’s that Sierra Nevada head: a thick off-white cream that leaves textbook lacing all over the glass. Great retention, thick foam, rich-looking body – doesn’t get any better than this.

S: Odd; the hops aren’t exploding off the nose as I expected. Still, they’re pungent, sporting an incredible kick of cherry/sour-apple candy, lemon juice, pine. I’m digging the grain undercarriage, as well; earthy aromas of lightly toasted malt and crisp wheats. There’s even a hint of autumn spices, rose, and herbs. It’s not what I was expecting, but still nice; the scents are quite segregated.

T: If hop-bread existed, this would be its bottled form; very tasty. Instead of being a messy hop-bomb, this one starts with a lovable bread presence, smoothing out with just enough sour/bitter intensity to remind me of rye (my favorite). It really is stunning how bready it is (an unexpected treat, really), and I love how it reminds me of the true soul of an IPA as a rustic, farm-fresh bitter. With the good, there’s the bad, though, because the first taste before that bread takes over is an odd, buttery lemon-grain taste. Fortunately, there’s more than enough in this palate to distract, such as those ever-important IPA bitters. Overall, I’d describe them as earthy and salty-sweet, but with just a mild dryness; all the hop flavor, with just a hint of the crazy sting. The aftertaste is dry and grainy, slightly herbal (like green tea), and with a light mineral water taste – what a great British feel. Now this is a superb incarnation of an IPA palate; excellent.

M: Creamy and mouth-coating for the breads, prickly for the hops – an effective combination. Sometimes it feels like a nice English bitter, sometimes like a good ol’ American IPA. Man, even the mouthfeel is complex and unexpected!

O: What a beer; this truly is the best harvest beer I’ve had. Complexity, bitterness, and a great range of textures make this beer feel truly alive. One of the best IPAs I’ve had in a long time.

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

A: The beer has a very nice redish gold with a average head. The beer is sort of cloudy.

S: I am getting a good amount of sweet malt. I get some fruit and some hops.

T: The beer has a strong hop taste with a little bit of malt. The hops linger on the tongue and just are amazing.

M: The beer has a good amount of carbonation and a strong amount of crispness. Not bad, but not the best IPA mouthfeel.

O: This is my favorite seasonal from Sierra Nevada. I just dont get why this beer is so good. It is like a better version of Torpedo. I want as much of this beer as I can possibly get.

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

Nice hazy dark amber color with nice creamy 1/4 inch head. Glowing presence. Good natural carbonation.

Great aroma of grass, fresh citrus and floral hops and doughy malts. Rosehip, grapefruit and mint. Spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon on the nose

The taste is nice and citric with a good grassy character. Grapefruit, tea and grass. The hops really brighten up the palate. It is extremely well balanced blend of smoothing malts and lightly bittering hops. The malts are both doughy and candied. Finishes bitter and citric.

Mouthfeel is fuller and flavorful. Almost chewy. The malts and hops interact in unique ways providing a very unique and refreshing drink.

This is worth the once a year release. One of the best fresh hop ale's I've ever had. It is a bargain and widely available during the fall and winter. I need to pick up a few more six packs of this.

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

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A) Amber with slight haze. Several bubbles rise to the surface. There were a few bits of sediment. A solid finger of off white head with a slight rusty top. The head settles to a nice dusting. The lacing is good.

S) Nice pine and flower petal aroma. Slightly sweet with a white grapefruit presence.

T) Very close to the nose. The finish is grapefruit and citrus peel. The alcohol is hardly detected.

M) Really a pretty full bodied brew. It is well carbonated but not in a fizzy, smashing your palate to smithereens sort of way. It is actually quite smooth, and I find the drinkability to be very high.

O) Absolutely one of my favorite seasonals. There's a reason I'm stashing a case in my garage.

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Photo of Trail
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!

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 version. Beautiful clear copper color and a huge, chunky head with lacing like snowdrifts. The nose is rather subdued (hard to get with all that foam). It's hoppy and cedary.

Medium body, good, firm feel, and a nice, fresh hoppy taste. Not as dry and bitter as I expected it to be. I get some nice flavors of fresh bread, orange zest, and tea. It's definitely got that hop bite, but it's really smooth, balanced, and easy-drinking. It provides a good ``hop fix'' without wrecking your palate.

Overall, an outstanding fresh hop ale. I can't quite put it on the same level as Founders Harvest Ale or Three Floyds Broo Doo, but it's more widely available, easier on the wallet, and darn tasty to boot. I'll definitely buy this one again next year.

2012 bottling. Still a wonderful seasonal. What strikes me the most is still the balance and drinkability. It has a wonderful, hoppy flavor without being extremely bitter. Beers like this make me proud of the term ``American IPA''.

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Photo of Hophead717
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 12 oz bottle of fresh Celebration poured into a DFH signature glass.

A: One of the more beautiful beers I've seen. Not sure if I just had a lucky pour, or if this was the perfect glass, but this is a beauty. A deep golden brown color, deeper than I expected actually, with a luscious, 1.5 finger, creamy head. The head stayed with this beer all the way through, with excellent lacing on the glass. I couldn't asked for a better looking IPA to be honest.

S: Lots of fresh hops in the nose-a great deal of piney notes as well as grapefruit and orange peel. Hints of sweetness from the malt are also discernible.

T: Upon taking your first sip, really fresh hops land on your tongue. The slightly bitter, piney hops are complemented by a significant, sweet malt backbone with a very well balanced finish. I was afraid the finish would be strongly bitter, but it wasn't at all. Of course, as the brew approaches room temperature, the bitterness level increases, so I'd recommend enjoying Celebration closer to fridge temp at first and experiencing the beer as it warms.

M: A nice and smooth mouthful, with high levels of carbonation. Almost too much carbonation, but it does work quite well.

O: I liked Celebration a great deal; the beer definitely lived up to the hype. I grabbed a six pack at the store today and I probably will head back tomorrow to pick up another...two or three.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2011)

Liquor Stop
San Marcos, CA

Clear, golden, glowing auburn and ruby with a thick, chunky, persistent light khaki head that sticks around for seemingly forever, eventually leaving thick chunks and sheets of foaming lace down the glass. I love the way Sierra Nevada beers look!

A well balanced aroma while still being fairly aggressive. There is a lot of earthy, citrusy, and piney hop character here, as well as a substantial amount of simple brown bread and light caramel character.

The hops lead the way in the flavor, though they are balanced significantly by caramel and bready malts. A relatively high level of bitterness disappears quickly, finishing relatively dry.

Medium to thick mouthfeel with moderate carbonation, though this feels far more velvety and luscious than most any other IPA I've ever drank. This bottle in ways feel like it was drawn from a cask.

A beer I look forward to every late Fall/winter. It's always better than I remember it being, a tough feat for any beer.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Celebration, this years is tasty. Translucent and deep amber in color with belgian (well not in this case) lacing cascading around my tulip. Fair head retention. The aroma, well it is pine atop citrus with caramel cent underneath. Fairly tasty, nice hop presence, pine, resin, citrus married to a more malty frame then I usually look for. Crystal malt adds a bit of sweetness to combat the bittering hops. Its is a well balanced beer with a bitter finish, clean, and well bodied. I'd buy this beer again, it is a nice tasting ipa that you don't have to over think. It is not overly complex, it is just an ipa that you drink and don't think too much about.

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Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 10,231 ratings.
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