Beer Tasting and Review - Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop Ale
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is one of the oldest and largest craft brewing companies in the United States today. Their flagship brew, the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is second only in earnings to Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Founded in 1980, the company was started by two avid naturalists and home brewers. In 2010 Sierra Nevada Brewing Company won the EPA's "Green Business of the Year" Award for using bio-diesel fuel in their delivery trucks, for having their own water treatment plant and the use of solar power and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Alongside the flagship brew the company also offers a Porter, Stout and Hefeweizen.
Special annual releases include the Bigfoot Barley Wine style ale. They also have a Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale (brewed with fresh hops from the Southern Hemisphere) and a Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale (brewed with fresh hops from the Northern Hemisphere). A fourth special release is the Estate Homegrown Ale. The wheat and hops for the Estate Ale are grown on premises.
Seasonal releases include a Bock in the Spring, a Pilsner in the Summer, a Brown Ale in the fall and the Celebration Fresh Hop Ale in the winter.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company first released The Celebration Ale one year after being founded and every year since. The 2011 release is 6.8% ABV and brewed with two row pale and English caramel malts. It is bittered with chinook hops and finished and dry hopped with cascade and centennial hops. It gets the name "Fresh Hop Ale" from the fact that they use the first hops of the growing season. It is released for the holiday season.
The Pour and Appearance
It pours nicely with a thick, creamy head that clings to the side of the glass. It is deep amber in color.
As with most Sierra Nevada ales the dominant aroma is of hop, something between pine and citrus. You really have to get your nose in there to find the malt notes but they are definitely there.
It has a full bodied but medium mouth feel with a surprisingly delicate touch of effervescence.
The initial taste on the tongue is of pine and citrus hop. As the ale warms and you become more accustomed to it the malt flavors slowly come out to play.
The hop bitterness dominates the malt throughout the aftertaste. The head still clings to the side of the glass even as you finish.
The Celebration Ale may be a little too heavy in the hop category to be called a well balanced ale. As with most Sierra Nevada ales it is a great choice if you are a hop head or are serving one. If your planning for a fall or winter party, the Celebration Ale (or any Sierra Nevada Ale) should suffice as a craft beer selection to appease the peskiest beer geek in the crowd.
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