840: Celebration Ale

840 - Celebration AleName: Celebration Ale
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Chico, California
Style: American IPA
Alcohol Content (ABV): 6.8%
First Brewed: 1981
Price: $1.49

Tasting Notes
Featuring the first hops of the growing season, this pioneering IPA is full of complex flavors and aromas from the generous use of whole-cone American hops. Expect hints of floral hopes, pine, malt, orange peel, and sweet caramel that dafe to a spicy cinnamon finish.

Ricky’s Thoughts

It’s not Christmas time, but we are drinking a bottle of Celebration Ale. We actually tried this in a beer class at Total Wine & More, and I wasn’t impressed. It tasted like an IPA. I had a conversation the other night on Google+ about this beer aging well. Normally an IPA won’t age… especially with such a low ABV. He said it gets better… maybe next year I will grab a few bottles and throw them in the cellar. I still have a hard time believing it will age well, but we’ll see! Maybe the Scottsdale Total Wine has a few bottles left. I will check the next time I am in.

Good thing I like hoppy beers, because all I remember about this are the hops. Time to drink!

In the Glass: When we did this beer in the beer class, there were several other beers we were tasting. 13 beers total. Perhaps that wrecked my palate a little bit. I will say, I do not remember it looking this thick and creamy in the glass. It produces a very nice, thick creamy head that I want to eat with a spoon! There is also a lovely lace that hangs on to the side of the glass as I swirl it around a little. Looks like a lot of bubbles are rushing to the surface, and it leaves a nice copper color.

Nose: Smells like hops! I remember talking about this beer being nothing special. It’s not. At least when I smell it. I wouldn’t be able to consider this a winter beer just based on the aroma. It smells like hops. Maybe the flavor profile has changed since I last had this.

Flavor: Nope. Tastes like an IPA. The hops they use are good, but this beer is nothing to write home about. Imagine licking a pine cone… that is the hop profile I am getting from this. Not a bad beer by any means, but not worthy of the “winter warmer” classification. They should brew this all year and change the name/label.

Mouthfeel: The beer has a little bit of carbonation up front, then it mellows out as you swallow. There is a nice biting dryness toward the finish that lingers on the back of the palate. This would be a beer I could easily drink 6 of and not even realize I was drinking beer. (The burp is nice, too. Those same earthy hop flavors come rushing back to the surface.)

Aftertaste: I like hoppy beers, and generally because of the aftertaste. The aftertaste here is somewhat dry, and then the hoppy flavors hang on. It’s not overwhelming, but the aftertaste is a typical expectation from an average IPA.

Like I said, this should NOT be a seasonal release. Sierra Nevada is better than that. But for a guy that likes hops, it is a good beer. By the way, the label calls this a fresh hop IPA… and I generally don’t like fresh hopped beers. I would like to see them do another version of this and either double the ABV (consider it an imperial IPA) or barrel age it. They just released the barrel aged Bigfoot, so they have some barrels sitting around!

Celebration Ale – The bottle says: “We first created Celebration Ale in the winter of 1981. Each year, we use only the first fresh hops of the growing season to create this complex and robust IPA. Layered pine and citrus hop aromas balance delicately against rich malt sweetness – creating this bold wintertime classic.

Rating: 3/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

Ricky came into the kitchen and told me we were doing a beer right as I was getting ready to open one for myself.  Boo.  Oh well, either way I get to drink beer!

This beer has a LOT of head.  That is the first thing I noticed, all the fluffy foam on top.  It’s not really the good kind of foam, either… the healthy foam that dissipates quickly and evenly.  This is what I think of as “marshmallow foam”.  It’s much fluffier (for lack of a better word), and it leaves more residue.  Oh well, I guess that doesn’t affect the taste of the beer, really… but I just don’t like head that’s this foamy.  I’m weird, I know.

Anyway, besides the head, the beer is kind of a reddish-orange color and pretty thick.  I can’t see through the glass at all, really, which is kind of strange for a beer that’s not all that dark.  It looks a bit carbonated – you can see the little bubbles floating to the top.  It smells mostly like bread, with just a hint of fruit, and the nose is really not even all that strong.  Let’s try it!

Well, it’s definitely an ale – I get a hoppy aftertaste, and the hops are even present when the beer is going down.  The flavor itself isn’t bad, kind of spicy, kind of fruity… but the hops overpower pretty much everything.  I don’t think this an IPA, but it’s definitely got some of the taste of one.  My problem with IPAs is that they tend to taste a lot alike to me, and this one is no different.  Their distinguishing characteristic is always hops, and that’s what you taste with most of them, unless you get a double or imperial IPA or something along those lines.  I am rarely (but sometimes) in the mood for an IPA, so this probably isn’t one I’d be quick to pick up again.  However, if you like hops, it’s not bad.

Rating: 3/5

839 bottles of beer on the wall…

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