Friday, December 27, 2013

Sierra Nevada Celebration (3/10)

I have a lot of respect for the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  They entered the craft beer market at a time when relatively few Americans knew or cared much for craft beer.  I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and they deserve all the success they enjoy today.  But to be completely honest, as much as I want to support them and enjoy their products, I don’t really like most of them.  The only exceptions to that are the Ovila Abbey Ales.  In fact, their brandy barrel aged Ovila Quad is unquestionably one of the finest beers I’ve ever had. I’ll happily drink that every chance I get.

Celebration Ale is Sierra Nevada’s holiday beer.  According to their web site, “First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers.  Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops – honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada.”

It pours a coppery brown color, very slightly cloudy, with a finger-thick white head.  The aroma, as Sierra Nevada intended, is very pine-like with a hint of grapefruit, from the very generous hops load.  The flavor follows this aroma.  It’s pretty much “just another IPA” as far as I’m concerned.  It’s bitter, with pine and grapefruit elements dominating, and little else in the way of flavor or complexity.  The only thing making this a winter or holiday beer is the label artwork which features a cabin in the snow.

It’s only fair to Sierra Nevada and this beer to say that I simply do not like IPAs.  To me, they are a “one note” beer.  It’s pretty much all about the hops and the bitterness, at the expense of all else.  That means I’m predisposed to rate this beer very low.  This does not make it a bad IPA.  In fact, I would guess that it’s probably a very good IPA, given that Rate Beer gives it a 98 overall and Beer Advocate gives it 93-96 (which is “outstanding” or “world-class”).  With all due respect to Sierra Nevada and the beer fans on the other sites, I’m rating this a 3/10.  I don’t enjoy drinking it as a beer, and I don’t see anything unique about it as a Christmas, holiday, or winter seasonal.  It’s simply another IPA.  We have more than enough of those on the market to suit me.

Flavor Profile:

Sweet, Malty, Dry, or Bitter:  Bitter, like any other IPA
Spice Level:  Little or none
Hops Level:  High
Dominant Flavors:  Bitter pine tree and grapefruit
ABV: 6.8%
IBU:  65
My Rating: 3/10

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