Sierra Nevada says:
“The long, cold nights of winter are a little brighter with Celebration® Ale. Wonderfully robust and rich, Celebration® Ale is dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma. Brewed especially for the holidays, it is perfect for a festive gathering or for a quiet evening at home.”
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
American IPA, 6.8% ABV
Karl: I’m gonna be honest – while the other two Guys were all about this beer (or so it seemed to me at the time), I didn’t really get it. It’s a big IPA, and a good one, but nothing jumped out at me and said “this is a Christmas beer!” or “let’s be seasonal!” aside from the name and the label. Which I suppose I shouldn’t be too picky about because a peach beer isn’t really Christmassy either or anything but at least Shiner promised Cheer! and I got cheer. Anyways.
At least weather wise, this beer is appropriate. It lays a coating of hops over the whole palate, laying on top of it like an uncomfortable sweater. The kind your aunt gives you every year, if you’re in movies like A Christmas Story and those kinds of holiday feel-good flicks. The hops are soapy and piny-sharp, and linger like Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
It’s also dry, literally mouth-smackingly dry and huge in flavor, and as someone who has loved Sierra Nevada selections like the Southern Harvest and the Torpedo as hoppy beers, I can’t say it differentiates too much from that flavor profile. I’ll drink those beers earlier or later in the year, the other two Guys can have the Celebration, and I’ll curl up with something else.
Ryan: Sierra Nevada, I would like to thank you for brewing me an IPA that I can drink during the winter months. You see, I am very much a seasonal beer drinker. So from November to around March I like to drink dark, heavy beers. The kind of beers that put some meat on your bones (not that I need any). I tend to shy away from most IPA’s around this time because the bright and hoppy flavors don’t do it for me. I need more, and you have given me more.
From the nose to finish, this is a fantastic malt-forward IPA. You get a hint of the malty sweetness in the aroma along with some pleasant piney hops. But you really don’t get the full appreciation of the biscuity malts until you take a sip. That’s where you get splashes of toffee and caramel followed by an aggressive hoppy finish.
I have stocked up accordingly for the winter months with this beer and it sits appropriately next to my imperial stouts, porters, barleywines and winter warmers.
Andrew: When I think of a quintessential winter beer – this is it. It has absolutely everything I’m looking for in a beer brewed to celebrate the winter season. The depth and complexity were a welcome change from the Shiner Holiday Cheer.
I have to give props where props are due, and Ryan is a master-pourer of beers. However, the Celebration would make anyone look like an amateur pourer – the big, white, fluffy, pillow-y head simply didn’t want to go away and certainly took it’s time doing so.
The beer poured a hazy light brown/copper color and the nose was full of piney, citrus-y hops with a slight earthiness or malty-ness to it. The complexity of the beer really comes through when you taste it – as it starts off sweet and caramel-y and finishes a little bitter with a dry/bitter aftertaste.
I really enjoy the Celebration, it makes me want to light a fire and sit around watching the snow fall – a perfect addition to a cold winter day.