This beer is an American classic. I don’t know how long Celebration has been
around, but I have been drinking it for almost ten years. One of the very
nice things about the holiday beers is their incredible diversity: spiced
ales, ESBs, Imperial Stouts, winter warmer/old ales, barleywines, Scottish
ales, and of course India pales. The latter is the style in which
Celebration is brewed, and that’s a good thing. IPAs of this caliber can be
hard to come by in some areas of the country, and this one is widely
As David Tekyaerts pointed out in his review of this beer, Celebration was called “Best beer ever made in America” by Stan Sesser of the San Francisco Chronicle. I think Stan needs to try a few more beers. Celebration is a classic American ale, but it’s not the best beer made in America (I don’t think any beer is, there are far too many great ones out there to choose from). It’s not even the best IPA ever made in America. It is however often one of the best beers available in areas where beer selection is limited, and will keep for a good time if refrigerated. I usually buy a case or two every winter and drink it throughout the year
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale pours to a burnt orange color with a subtle head formation and a distinctly hoppy nose. This is IPA people, it screams hops at you right from the first sniff right on into your first sip. Again, the beer screams hops, wonderfully aromatic Cascades and grapefruity Centennials, fantastically bitter Chinook finishing hops.
The latter ones seize your tongue and don’t want to let go, as that bitterness lingers and leaves a pleasant hop buzz for a time after drinking. The potent 6.8% alcohol by volume content has been known to leave a buzz of it’s own too. A firm malt body serves nicely as the background against which the hops are displayed.
I made broiled swordfish steak with pepper and lemon butter, carrots and broccoli in pepper and lemon butter, and a baked potato for dinner this evening. Sierra Nevada Celebration accompanied it nicely, but I could see it going equally well with spicy Buffalo wings or Mexican cuisine.
December, 2004: The old adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is
demonstrably true. Had I taken this wonderful brew for granted in the past,
I certainly don't now. I wasn't able to enjoy this the past few winters due
to Georgia's arcane beer laws. The law changed this year, and I was
delighted to see Celebration on my local retailers shelves.
Rich with chewy caramel malt, Celebration is still a hop lovers delight. The bitter, resiny hops assault you from the get go and intensify in the finish into a truly lingering presence. Still, they never do seem to totally overpower the malt. There's just so much hops and malt going on here that its truly incredible.
Maybe not the best beer in America, but certainly one of them.
Update November 15th, 2012: What would the winter holidays be without a Celebration? I mean that both figuratively and literally here, of course. This beer has been a staple for 20 years now chez Bruguru, and I'm happily sipping a bottle from a freshly purchased six-pack this evening. It's almost like a beery time machine of sorts, chewy caramel malt up front and then the brilliant hop attack, resiny, crazy bitter, floral aromatic and then bitter again. Celebration is a, well, celebration of this festive season. It's also a celebration of hops, and was one when same was not as common as it is today.
I love this beer, a classic since 1981. Like old Christmas carols from my childhood and long lost toys from same, it's an annual pleasure. It wouldn't be Christmas in my home without it. Don't miss this amazing brew. A bargain this year at $8.49 a six pack.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.