Style: American IPA
OG: 16.0º Plato
FG: 4.0º Plato
Bittering Hops: Chinook
Finishing Hops: Cascade & Centennial
Dry Hopping: Cascade & Centennial
Malts: Two-Row Pale, English Caramel
Firstly I’d like to fill in all of those who (like I was before I wrote this review) were unaware that Celebration is really just an American IPA with fresh hops, and not a specially spiced winter ale in any way. The internet and beer world is ripe with rumors of nutmeg, cinnamon, and a varying recipe per year, but according to the Full Pint and Sierra Nevada’s website the beer does not change recipe year to year and is just a plain old fresh hop American IPA.
On the bottle this is a classic Sierra Nevada landscape label with a terrific, old-school Christmas/holiday flair. I love the Santa Claus red and white coloring as they really express the season and flair of the beer. The Sierra Nevada scroll looks great in a holiday context, and the cozy log cabin and the winter wonderland around it are great. This bottle is worthy of the Sierra Nevada bottle collection, and a space on your shelf.
Celebration pours a beautiful dark amber caramel, bordering on ruby and brown. The beer has a fantastic creamy white head with the faintest tan hints, and it lasts forever, sitting two fingers width up from the beer. The beers body is hazy with carbonation bubbles, but clear of sediment. Lacing is fat and sticky, sliding down the glass slowly and leaving some nice fangs and walls on the side of my glass. This beer looks festive and gorgeous. On the nose the beer smells superbly piney, like a Canadian forest. Rich sweet pine notes meld with almost-cloying sweet caramel malts to hint at some alcohol spice. This smell is what a classic American IPA should smell like. The beer tastes sweet with a wonderful pulpy bitter pine and grapefruit marriage. As the beer enters the mouth and moves over the tip of the tongue the almost-cloying sweet caramel malt plays strongly, but that is swiftly met by the mouth biting bitters, which are not too strong, but are definitely present to bring strong grapefruit and pine flavors into the mouth to stay. The bitters almost bring the flavor into medicinal and stale bread flavors, and definitely walk a fine line as they touch upon the flavor thresholds, but maintain the more appealing tastes of pine and grapefruit, and thus provide a lovely refreshing taste. On the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied with some creamy carbonation and a nice bitter bite that tingles on the tongue. The mouth is left quite dry with islands of sticky saliva and a little astringency left on the tongue. Overall this is a very solid American IPA. Is this the libation of the holiday gods as some people would have you think? No, of course not, it is just a solid example of the classic American IPA, and a perfect time-machine to when the American IPA was first rising as a style. A solid go to drink that is relatively cheap and easy to find. The beer is perfect for those looking for a bitter bite, but it really isn’t amazing.