Christmas Eve Blue Collar Brew Review –
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (revisited)

Christmas Eve was fraught with interruptions as our offspring kids came and went. I actually had to get away from my comfy chair at the computer numerous times. Gifts were dropped off and plopped in front of the tree. One son carried his presents inside in two laundry baskets.

Mom was stationed in the kitchen preparing homemade bread and other holiday treats while the staccato parade came and went. The house smelled divine! One incident produced #1 son and his dog here to stay for the weekend. The brightest spot of the evening walked through that door at the same time, simultaneously, all at once, together. My son was bearing gifts to share. Two sixpacks of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale were presented to me and then stashed in the fridge for the appropriate time. He wanted me to review the beer that a few years ago that I thought tasted like a shower curtain.

It was shit or get off the pot time as I welcomed the gifts of liquid bread. It was in December of ’08 when I first reviewed this beer. Two years younger with a green tongue, I really didn’t know a hell of a lot about styles, but I wrote a lot about beer. I always relied on colorful picturesque labels and at the time, Celebration Ale would fit right in with the holiday season back then.

This was before my discovery of homebrewed beer, the BA and RB websites and my membership in the MASH Homebrew Club. Since that time I’ve learned about beer and the different styles. What hops and malts smell like and taste like, what Alpha acids are, IBUs and the Plato scale.

An SPT reader suggested I try his recommended Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA to get me more accustomed to the style. I did, and as time progressed so did my appreciation of the versatility and myriad ingredients that beer is made from. But even today, I’m no expert when it comes to beer, but I really enjoy learning about it and sharing my thoughts on the site. I’ve learned to realize how the addition and type of hops can greatly effect the taste of a beer.

Here it was, Christmas Eve, 2010 and my son gifted me with a couple of sixers of my mental nemesis, unmarked IPAs disguised as beer in festive Christmas regalia. I must, I will re-review this beer while the two year-old memory of the taste of vinyl still lingered in my memory bricks. I shall do this. I shall do this tonight. I will once again taste this beer and give my opinion based on what I’ve learned about beer so far and since then.

When the time came, I announced that festivities were about to begin and my son presented me with the first beer. I figured that either way the review went, I’d eat some crow and share it online on my website. With bottle and glass in hand, I sat down to pen type a most personally difficult brew review. Here goes.

The beer poured up with a majestic head, a good two fingers’ worth. The foam was rather thick and off-white in color while the liquid was a nice orange color and had lots of large bubbles rising. The aroma smelled only slightly of hops, I was expecting a little more punch than what I got.

The first sip was very interesting. I didn’t remember the first review beer tasting anything like this. There was a slight taste of grapefruit as I was hoping, but that taste was short lived. The hops gave their expected zing at the swallow and the middle had a nice body. A little sweetness rose up along the sides as the sips progressed. But this beer is all about the hops.

Each sip went in with all the notions of being a nice, well-bodied ale, but the hop bitterness always came out on top. But as the beer warmed up in the glass, more of a blend of flavors came forward. Of course it just may as well be my tongue finally getting started. A slight bit more taste of grapefruit arose and the malts started to come alive but still, the hops drilled their way into each sip.

I must say what a noob I was back when I first started out reviewing beers and panned this beer as a “mouth full of rubberbands.” Now that I have more of an appreciation for these higher hopped beers I can truly step back and look at the overall picture of this IPA and mentally compare the taste to other IPAs that I’ve had.

This beer is not a hopped up beer for the sake of hops, but they do play a major role in the taste of this beer. There was a nice blend of the malts and hops making it worth the trip to the fridge for another one. I did not, however, get a lot of citrus flavors. The grapefruit taste at the beginning of this session became no more than a flash in the pan.

I will say that I enjoyed this beer in spite of what I said about it previously, now that I know more about this style of beer. I don’t know how this style of beer is considered a winter seasonal by S.N. if only for the fact that they brew up some batches at this time of year. I hear that the stuff just flies off the shelves around this time each year.

This is a good IPA even if it were April. It has all the trappings of the IPA style: a good, rather sweet malt base, a nice blend of the malts and the hops, the crispness at the end and an easy drinking experience. The 6.8% ABV may cause some trouble somewhere along the way, but overall, the beer is well worth the price. Grab a couple of sixers on your way to Grandma’s. It could definitely make the visit much more enjoyable.

And I can now truly say that I Fear No Beer. HaPpY ChRiStMaS!

The SixPackTech new ratings for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale are:

Taste: B+ > Sweet and bitter, like a PB&J sandwich and potato chips.
Smoothness: B+ > It’s all downhill after the initial hazing ritual.
Drinkability: B+ > Have enough on hand. They’ll go pretty fast.
Bang for the buck: A- > 6 beers for about 7 bucks. Nothin’ wrong with that.
ABV: 6.8%
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff, sip) Oh, it’s real grapefruity. That’s about all I’m getting is grapefruit. (sip) It’s OK. It’s better than that mud you had last night. (Old Rasputin is forever etched in her brain.)

BeerAdvocate rates.
RateBeer rates.
Random review from

Once again, the BetterBeerAuthority guys cheese it up with their review.

I just had to do this based on the topic of the post and the fact that everyone including me thought that girls actually sang the “Whoo-hoo” part.

Sierra Denali





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