Brew Review

Beer Review – Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale

Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale

While I consider myself to be someone that enjoys a wide variety of beer styles, I have yet to fully embrace the Pumpkin and Christmas Ales that have been all over the shelves the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely stumbled upon a few that I’ve really enjoyed (i.e. Southern Tier Warlock, Schlafly Christmas Ale, and Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale), but more often than not, they leave me a bit disappointed since they are either way over the top and overspiced or simply dull, leaving me to wonder what all the fuss is about.

For the longest time, I thought that the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was one of those overspiced Christmas Ales, but then in 2012, I actually tried the beer and realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Celebration Ale has nothing in common with all those beers. I guess I was misled by the poinsettias and the snow covered cabin on the label! That’s what I get for judging a book by its cover and not actually reading the label.

Since I really liked this beer in 2012, I decided to pick up a bottle during a recent beer run for a long overdue review. But before we get to that, let’s find out what Sierra Nevada has to say about their Celebration Ale:

The start of Celebration season is a festive event. We can’t start brewing until the first fresh hops have arrived, but once they have the season is officially under way! First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers. Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business…

  • Appearance: Cloudy, red-orange color with a thick off white head that rises to a max height of 1.5 inches and then settles down to a thin layer. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: Very bright happiness with lots of tropical notes, i.e. mango, pineapple, and mandarin orange. In the background, I’m getting some honey and biscuity sweetness.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation with a soft and velvety texture. Starts of lightly sweet with the honey and biscuity malts coming through. Mild, piney hops make an appearance at the middle, but with a malty sweetness in the background. The tropical notes arrive at the finish with subtle mango and pineapple flavors. Soothing hoppy/sweet finish that lingers for quite awhile.
  • ABV: 6.8%

Yum yum yum! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is one seriously delicious and well balanced IPA. It’s hoppy without being overly bitter and it goes down really easy, perhaps a bit too easy given its relatively high ABV. Smooth, flavorful, infinitely drinkable, and definitely a beer that I highly recommend. Go pick some up before it runs out until next year.

7 replies »

  1. You might wonder why I chose to start typing in the comment box. I mean, there are plenty of other places I could have chosen to type – not the least of which being my colleague’s office next door but she gets all stuffy/uppity/lawyerly when I shove her out of the way and take over her keyboard….

    So now that you’ve distracted me from what had been modest, if unspectacular, progress on a project…….

    SN Celebration has been one of my favorite IPAs for over a decade, let alone a favorite Holiday/Winter Ale. They may release it for the holiday season and give it the Hallmark Winter Hut/Christmas-esque label treatment but it is what it is – a spectacular West Coast IPA, period. It stands up to the best from the region including its southern neighbors in San Diego (looking at you, Sculpin). I’d take a well-chilled Celebration Ale over a Sculpin or Union Jack most days – almost every day in fact. its that good. Its also one of the very few beers I’d consider buying a case (or more) of because I’m such a big fan – but I never do – the 12 packs are just enough. Usually.

    I’d elaborate a bit further but the IT harlots are attempting to overcome the defenses I’ve employed to keep undesirables out of my office. I think they want to swap out my keyboard for one that detects Tourette’s outbursts and disables letters commonly used to construct expletives. Where’s the fun in that?

    ~Cheers JACKHAMMER!


  2. I really like Sierra Nevada’s beers, but for some reason, they never seem “sexy” enough for me when I’m putting together a mix-six at the liquor store. Celebration is one that I’ve gone to again and again though, so maybe I need to spend a little less item looking as fancy beers and gong with what I know works. . .


    • I felt the same way for the longest time (same applies to Anchor and a couple others), but then I started trying their stuff and have been impressed almost every single time. They’re just a rock solid brewer, and their stuff is both super affordable and widely available.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.