Over the past year, I’ve come to really enjoy some Sierra Nevada beers. Two examples that immediately come to mind are the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Kellerweis. I’ve bought both of these beers several times this year, and were excellent go-to beers for the Summer. Well, now its time for the Christmas Ales, and Sierra Nevada puts forth their Celebration Ale which has been a favorite of many beer drinkers for many years.
Except me. For awhile.
See, when I first tried the 2008 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, I was not really into hoppy beers at all. Still, I somehow managed to appreciate it enough to give it a 3.5 star rating!
I know that Sierra Nevada sticks the year on the label, but I’m not positive if the recipe changes year to year or not. I did notice that they added the words “Fresh Hop Ale’ to the label, and actually call it an IPA in the description which I do not think they did in prior years. Back in 2008, I didn’t even know what an IPA was, but I had a feeling that the Celebration Ale was an IPA and had said that in the beer review. (How clever of me!)
So, the mystery has been cleared up a bit, and so we have what amounts to an IPA wrapped in a Christmasy-looking wrapper. Pretty enough for sure, but would I like the 2010 Celebration Ale more or less than I did in 2008? (I actually asked myself this.)
Well, I’d say yes.
Its a fine IPA if that is what you are looking for. To me, its like the excellent Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – on steroids. It pours a nice coppery color, created a respectable head of foam, and leaves a decent amount of lacing on my glass. (In this case its my Mystery Brewing Glass) The aroma is hops, and I imagine that the ‘Fresh Hop Ale’ on the label is no joke! Having a ‘somewhat’ more refined nose than back in 2008, the Celebration Ale aroma is just wonderful. While big on earthy hops, there’s also a bit of warm malt that comes through and some sweetness as well – like faint caramel.
The taste is where its at! If you like their Pale Ale, I think you’d love the Celebration Ale! Its a wonderful explosion of flavors – led in a big way by the ‘fresh hops’, but its more than that too. There’s some nice bitterness and again just a little touch of that sweetness (hard for me to put a finger on) but I find this beer to be very enjoyable, and very drinkable. I would have liked to have seen how it tasted warmed up a bit, but as I type these words its already gone! Oh well.
I found the mouthfeel to be quite nice – more on the creamy side and even though this beer is hop strong, it doesn’t burn or sting at all. Heck, I think this would make a great beer for the Summer! I’m not actually sure what makes this beer a ‘Winter Ale’ – its quite different than the sweet Belgians and the traditional Winter Warmers, but I’m still glad they make it and that they make it different.
So, here’s the deal. I LIKE this beer. I like it better than I did in 2008 and its probably another Sierra Nevada beer that I’ll buy again this year (while its available) and make it a point of getting it next year too! I think it might end up as one of my yearly Christmas beers!
Bumping it up 1/2 star from 2008!