Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

A first for my Big Log today. An American ale. My local Tesco have bought in a small batch of Sierra Nevada bottles. And this is one of them: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale bottle

One look at the festive logo tells you that something is ever so slightly amiss. And the shoulder label explains what that is.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale shoulder label
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale front label

It seems that Tesco got this small batch of bottles in late. You see, this 2007 Celebration Ale was produced to celebrate the winter from which we are now emerging. In other words, the winter that’s nearly over. Fortunately, it’s still cold enough outside to feel like winter, so I’m going into my first American ale with an open mind.

Have I purchased a bottle of Celebration Ale that’s missing the rear label? Or do Sierra Nevada don’t bother with rear labels? Answers in the comments section at the end of this post please.

As it is, we’ve got to make do with the front label. One of the few pieces of information on it, tells us that this bottle is 350 millilitres. What sort of value is that? This is the first time I’ve seen that amount. Maybe it’s something common to American beers. If anyone out there knows the reason behind this, again, please leave a message at the end of this post. I’m dying to know why the unusual number.

Something prominent and appealing is the alcohol volume. Which in this case, is 6.8%. Despite its funny size, this could well turn out to be an outstanding little drink.

The brewery is also worth a mention as this is my first taste of Sierra Nevada. This one was brewed and bottled by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of Chico, California of the USA. I didn’t even know Chico was a real place. It looks like I’m learning new things all the time from this diminutive little bottle. Finally, it was imported to the UK by Vertical Drinks Ltd. In case anyone out there is interested in that sort of face.

Unsure how much 350 millilitres actually was, I chose a half-pint glass. That was a mistake. If in doubt, go for the bigger glass. The drink however, poured delightfully. The head went in creamily and controllably. More so than many other premium beers and ales. And the colour is a rich, deep, dark gold.
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale in a glass

After so many lagers, it is fantastic to smell an ale again. And this one is a treat. It smells of fruit and flowers. But in a light way that is slightly different to the English fruity and flowery ales that I’ve reviewed on this blog. No lets see if that fruitiness and floweriness carries over to the taste.

The first taste that hits you is bitter. And the lingering aftertaste is sour. Quite a surprise as I was expecting something light and fruity. A few more gulps in though, and you do start to notice that this is more than a bitter or pale ale. There are some hints of the fruits that you noticed in the smell. Although they’re not as much in evidence as the smell leads you to believe.

Maybe because of the rough ride home from the supermarket, I found Celebration Ale a little on the gassy side. But not too much so. It was also very easy to drink. Yes it had that aftertaste that I disliked. But much of the taste, flavour and character was inoffensive. You could go as far as to say that it is playing it too safe on that front and lacking the full-on character and flavour of other decent beers and ales.

What to make of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale then? I went into this genuinely wanting to be surprised and impressed. And the smell did just that. But the taste simply hasn’t delivered. It’s simply too plain and lacking true character. But it is still a drinkable, strong, west-coast ale. And for that, it claws back marks.

Rating: 3.2

That quality is there, but make 2008 a real celebration for us, won’t you Sierra Nevada?

Have you tried Celebration Ale or any others from the Sierra Nevada brewery?
Then leave the world your comments, thoughts and insults below please.

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3 Responses to “Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale”

  1. Joe Says:

    American beers (and colas, for that matter) are typically sold in bottles of 12 ounces (355ml). Not sure why they’d change it to 350 on the exports, but, it seems close enough to 12oz anyway.

  2. Randy Says:

    Sierra dosen’t use a rear label. Sierra makes a lot of different brews. The Celebration is one of my favorites along with the pale ale. They also have Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, which is intresting because it has a high alcohol level and have to call it a Barley wine.



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