Fresh Hop Ale (IPA) from Sierra Nevada Brewing of Chico, CA 6.8% ABV
Featuring the first hops of the growing season and released for the winter holidays.
Ahhh, Sierra Nevada Brewing. Their classic Pale Ale was another of the early craft beers that significantly impacted my tastes and preferences in beer, along with Anchor Steam Beer and Anchor Liberty Ale. These beers fostered my deep fondness for American hops, and lots of them. First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is distinctive as a winter seasonal offering in its blatant use of those hops; 3 of the great “C” hops, in fact – Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook – hops that I and many other “hopheads” have employed generously in many batches of homebrewed American-style pale ales and IPAs. They contribute those wonderfully citrusy and piney flavors that so many of us love. This beer in particular is one that finds its place in my beerventory every December, and precedes the onslaught of the imperial or double IPAs starting in January. Seems appropriate, as Sierra Nevada’s generous use of those great hops surely helped fuel the love of them that has led to the widespread brewing and availability of IPAs and beyond.
Appearance is a clear, bright copper hue. Head starts out about 1/4″ thick composed of fairly dense, pale beige foam, and settles out to a thin but full layer.
Aromas are American hops – piney and citric, green and fresh. I’m standing in the hop yard as they harvest those bright green cones of magic. Mmmmmm!
Celebration Ale has a moderately full body, rich and creamy but with a light, prickly carbonation bite. There’s some hop oiliness after the swallow.
Flavors are hop-forward, just like the aromas. Lots of pine and citrus, especially grapefruit, with a pretty solid bitterness going in. There is some tasty caramel malt underneath with a hint of burnt sugar. Big, big hop flavors build and sustain, with an almost puckering bitter finish that leaves some wonderful hop resins on the tongue. Fantastically long-lasting, bitter-resinous-piney-hoppy finish that just lingers on the palate seemingly forever. Remains drinkable and more-ish yet satisfying. Partial foam rings and some large foamy patches cling to the glass. This brew is a real hophead’s delight. One of my favorite winter seasonals as well as IPAs in general; just a splendid beer!
Pair with bleu cheese or aged cheddar or gouda, Buffalo wings, or Indian curries (I’m thinking Vindaloo in particular).
Rating Appearance: 4.5/5 Aroma: 9/10 Palate: 5/5 Flavor: 10/10 Overall: 19/20