Sierra Nevada Celebration. Has the recipe changed over the years?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Kanger, Dec 7, 2013.

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  1. Kanger

    Kanger Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    I haven't had a Celebration ale in many years. I remember it having more of that holiday spice flavor to it which I associate with winter holiday beers. So it wasn't a flavor profile I was hugely fond of.

    But now I'm drinking the 2013 release and it tastes like they up the hop flavor significantly and I'm loving it. A delicious IPA with citrus and pine notes.

    Am I just remembering this beer wrong?

    I would have been drinking it a lot more if had a different memory of it.
  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    From a Full Pint interview with Sierra Nevada's Bill Manley (aka "sierranevadabill" here on BA):

  3. Kanger

    Kanger Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    Ah very interesting - Thanks!

    Yeah "nutmeg and cinnamon" is what I remember. Funny how the palate works because now I don't taste those flavors what so ever in the 2013.
    forrestbetts likes this.
  4. Knee_Deep_Fan

    Knee_Deep_Fan Initiate (0) Nov 20, 2013 California

    I believe it's changed. Go back a few years and I thought it was wonderful. Then the last two years seemed different and lame. After a lot of fine folks here at BA talked about it this year, I went out and bought a cold pack and it's delicious. Maybe my taste buds are playing games with age, but it seems the current crop is where it was when I first had it.
    PS: this was discussed a week or two ago, hopefully nobody will blast you for bringing it up again...
  5. surfcaster

    surfcaster Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina

    As good as it ALWAYS is.

    I think we will that "spiciness" on it. I taste it, too. My absolute favorite this time of year.
    #5 surfcaster, Dec 7, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  6. Dope

    Dope Pooh-Bah (2,529) Oct 5, 2010 Massachusetts

    Funny, the power of suggestion is an incredible thing. I purposely try not to read any reviews of a beer before I review it myself. I can taste new things from sip to sip just by reading that someone else tasted some specific flavor. Is the flavor really there and I was just missing it before? By looking for it, did I find it? Or did my brain just decide that there should be nutmeg and cinnamon in this Celebration and therefore tricked me? That's why blind taste tests are so awesome.

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  7. rvajohn

    rvajohn Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2012 Virginia

    I love this beer. I feel like the ABV% used to be higher
  8. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Was there ever actually spices in this beer? I know there isn't now, but was there ever? Why do people always associate this beer with spics, is it because it comes out at Christmas time and has a log cabin on it?
  9. TongoRad

    TongoRad Grand Pooh-Bah (3,826) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Never spices. I was having this same discussion with people back in the early 90s, when I was homebrewing my own version. I had a 'cheat sheet' from SN at the time that listed the ingredients and gravities (very much like what they put on the website these days) and there were no spices mentioned. People still insisted that they were in there; it is the power of suggestion I suppose- like you said, having to do with the season and imagery on the label.
  10. rvajohn

    rvajohn Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2012 Virginia

    Did I say I love it? I love it! The price is right too! I'm a Sierra Nevada fan. For me, some of the best value beer on the market.
  11. tgatort

    tgatort Initiate (0) Mar 13, 2013 Florida

    Really love this beer. Just picked up a sixer not knowing anything about it and absolutely loved it
    surfcaster, Kanger and Givemebeer like this.
  12. JoeSpartaNJ

    JoeSpartaNJ Zealot (625) Feb 5, 2008 New Jersey

    I drink this every year. It may be the same recipe, but this years batch is superior to last years. 2012 batch just tasted dull to me.
  13. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,549) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Sn has said it is brewed the same. Hops are an agricultural product, and vary from year to year, so yes there can be yearly differences even though it is brewed the same.

    Some breweries will use many different varieties from several locations in a beer to get a mean flavor or bitterness that stays fairly constant.
    drtth and TongoRad like this.
  14. whiterabbit

    whiterabbit Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2010 Ohio

    The answer, quite simply.


    Same stuff, different year, always great. Thanks for playing, GAME OVER
    forrestbetts and Jugs_McGhee like this.
  15. MortalKombat14

    MortalKombat14 Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2012 Michigan

    Spices in beer are disgusting anyways, I don't care what anyone says. If Celebration had spices in it I'd never drink it again
    forrestbetts and stayclean like this.
  16. barnzy78

    barnzy78 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,173) Jun 2, 2008 Illinois

    I mostly buy single bottles/cans of beer - I like variety and don't like to drink the same thing all the time; occasionally if it's something I know I like I'll get a 6 pack. When Celebration comes out I buy a 12 pack. Easily one of my favorite beers. Every year the topic of spices (or lack thereof) in this beer comes up...
    forrestbetts likes this.
  17. pixieskid

    pixieskid Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Germany

    Always loved Celebration and honestly, I never thought there were spices in it nor do I taste them. It's an ale brewed with fresh hops from the harvest, always has and always will...

    I would say that if anyone remembers it being "better", it's probably because it's an excellent example of an "old school" American IPA and we've all gotten used to the new hop varieties and restrained malt bill. Celebration has it's fair share of crystal malt and classic US hops. It ain't Cali hop water like what everyone else is/trying to brew these last couple years.
    jmw likes this.
  18. steveh

    steveh Grand Pooh-Bah (3,988) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Spicy characters can come from a variety of sources other than spices -- especially certain hops.
    drtth likes this.
  19. Flashy

    Flashy Pooh-Bah (1,693) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    Friend of mine is a flavor chemist and says that people's taste buds are pretty limited. If given an cherry flavored candy and it's not red and they are not told what flavor it is- they can't tell the flavor. Smell is also a key ingredient of course.
    Dope likes this.
  20. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    I am HORRIBLE blindly eating jelly beans and discerning what I am tasting. Some are very easy, but some I feel like I KNOW the flavor, but can't say what it is until someone tells me, and then I think "of course, that is exactly what it is"
  21. cavedave

    cavedave Grand Pooh-Bah (4,083) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Providence likes this.
  22. luisfrancisco

    luisfrancisco Zealot (606) Dec 1, 2009 Mexico

    Ha, it's funny how it comes up every year. Some people here take offence and will flame this vehemently. My theory is that because of its red, snowy, wintry label, it evoques a winter warmer, instead of an IPA. Thus some people think christmas, so they associate it with cinnamon and nutmeg and gingerbread cookies and frolic.
  23. RonfromJersey

    RonfromJersey Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2002 New Jersey

    Is it possible that some people confuse SN Celebration with Anchor Our Special Ale, which is spiced and does change every year and both go back to the 80s?
  24. StLeasy

    StLeasy Initiate (0) Sep 8, 2013 Illinois

    I've always guessed it was something like that. I just don't see how anyone could think it was spiced. Maybe the savory, resin-y, finish/aftertaste?
  25. jdaddy

    jdaddy Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 Pennsylvania

    IMO , yes.
  26. nc41

    nc41 Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    A real nice fresh hop, I remember a bitter bomb, but this one is very nice.
    Overlord likes this.
  27. russpowell

    russpowell Grand High Pooh-Bah (6,904) May 24, 2005 Arkansas
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    It's me. It's me.... Sorry but maybe just the hop variations over time coupled with me drinking more hop bombs. I can take or leave this. Maybe because it gets here 6+ weeks old to start with... Used to love this beer, used to homebrew a clone in Hawaii, I loved it so much.

    I'd rather have some 5 week old TIPA right now
  28. BillManley

    BillManley Pundit (803) Jul 2, 2008 North Carolina

    For whatever reason, the Centennial hop harvest this year was one of the best we've seen in over a decade. The hops are incredibly oily and have a distinct, strong floral/rose-like character this time around. The 2013 Northern Hemisphere and Celebration Ale both benefited immensely from these excellent Centennials. I wish we could take credit for this, but sadly, Mother Nature has us trumped. With hops as good as these, all we can do is get out of the way and let them shine. I agree, though, Celebration this year is excellent. My fridge at home is filled to the brim with bottles.

    Dools9, kerry4porters and steveh like this.
  29. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Celebration has not changed. On the other hand, and I might as well start it now and really jump the gun, Nugget Nectar has been different since the brewery moved from Harrisburg to Hershey.
  30. steveh

    steveh Grand Pooh-Bah (3,988) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois
    Pooh-Bah Society

    That explains why it took the enamel off my teeth this year. :wink:

    Can I send my dental bill to Chico? :grinning:
  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    “Celebration has not changed.” Why would you say that? In the prior post Bill Manley (of Sierra Nevada) explicitly stated that Celebration is different this year due to the fact the 2013 crop of Centennial hops is distinctly different.

    “For whatever reason, the Centennial hop harvest this year was one of the best we've seen in over a decade. The hops are incredibly oily and have a distinct, strong floral/rose-like character this time around.”

  32. Kanger

    Kanger Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    Yeah the 2013 Celebration is delicious!
  33. Todd

    Todd Founder (13,172) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Locking this one down. Question has been answered already.

    Answer = For nearly 30 years it's (roughly) been the same recipe.
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