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.