Celebration Ale

Celebration Ale

Brewery Details

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Chico, California, USA

Brewer Speaks

"Festive fresh hop holiday fun."

"...featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada."

Citrus, Pine
Cascade, Chinook, Centennial
Caramel, Two-row Pale
12 oz Bottle
Original Gravity:

American original

The Celebration Ale is clearly a festive looking brew with a label that just screams winter holiday….um…celebration of course! There are two little known but rather fascinating facts about this particular beer. Number one is that its an IPA, which shocks and confuses most people who don't believe it until they read it on the tiny description on the upper label. The second one even left us in a state of bewilderment- the Celebration Ale is considered to be one of the first American craft brewed IPAs ever. How is this possible you ask? Well let's take a trip back in time to the year 1981 when the young Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was beginning to formulate its first Christmas beer. Owner Ken Grossman decided to dry hop for the first time using the then brand-new Cascade hop variety, and the rest is history. The result was an intense hop-forward, deep amber colored brew with a bitterness that was extremely rare at the time.

celebration ale glassThe recipe of the Celebration Ale has actually remained unchanged since 1983 and proudly consists only of hops, water, malt and yeast. This is surprising to many who assume spices are added during the brewing process. How does spice related flavor and aroma magically appear if there is absolutely no spice added? Great question, and one in which the answer also explains why many believe the Celebration Ale tastes differently each year and assume the recipe must change annually.

Enter fresh hops, defined by Sierra Nevada as hops which are picked, dried and shipped within 7 days of the fields. The Celebration Ale is, and has always been brewed with the first, fresh hops of the growing season. 'Fresh Hop Ale' was added to the label in 2010 to help "clue people in on the real nature of the beer so folks know what they're getting into." Here the blend of fresh Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops create a spice-like flavor in addition to pine and citrus notes. Even though the recipe remains constant, flavor variations certainly occur year to year because hops can vary wildly from one harvest to another. If you happen to have a 2011 vintage that's been perfectly held in a temperature controlled vessel absent of light- let us know how it compares to this years 2012. Otherwise try to trick your friend who doesn't like IPA into tasting one…if they end up nodding their head in approval, you've helped convert someone new to the wonderful world of natural hop flavoring and done so with a very historically significant IPA!