Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2014)

Total Score: 7.3/10 Caramel1 Biscuit1 HopFlower1 Tulipglass1

Sierra Nevada are like the Tiger Woods of beers – they play a sharp game of golf, and cheat on their Swedish wives… err, no, that analogy doesn’t work, how about Sierra Nevada are like the J.K. Simmons of beers – consistently undervalued for their work and quietly brilliant, plus they won an Oscar that they thoroughly deserved (or at least they would if there was a beer equivalent of an Oscar). I’m happy with that revised analogy. Now on to their Celebration Ale – this is a Winter Ale with a difference – all IPA, no spices. This will be awesome-sauce.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy toffee brown-tinged amber body with a sticky 1 centimetre off-white head. There’s a decent amount of protein in the head, Sierra Nevada have got to be happy with that, I know I am. 9/10.

S: Malt forward with a biscuit/caramel combo, followed by hints of piney/citric, it’s certainly not as big on the hops as Torpedo, we’ll see how it comes out in the flavour because sometimes you do get big hop flavours in brews without big hop aromas. In Sierra Nevada we trust. 7/10.

T: The good news: This is one smooth IPA. The bad news: Sierra Nevada’s own Torpedo IPA scuttles this brew [nautical puns anyone?] with hops, more and more HOPS! Palate-wise SNaCA (as I am henceforth calling this beer) has a big caramel/biscuit base with hints of pine/citrus hops and a rather sharp bitter finish on the edge of your tongue that carries through to the aftertaste. This needs more hop flavours and less hop bitterness (which is entirely possible – my last homebrew was all tropical hop flavour without bitterness). 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, slightly oily hop presence with a light but dense carbonation. Almost the exact same mouthfeel as the Torpedo. 9/10.

D: Missed opportunity from the makers of the mighty Torpedo. This is a fresh hop IPA that has bitten off more than it could chew – too malty, not enough hop flavour, unnecessary sharp bitter edge, above-average aroma. Those are the negatives, on the plus side it is a hearty, smooth and half decent IPA, I guess I’ve been too spoiled with Sierra Nevada’s other offerings (oh yeah and Founders, Deschutes, Ballast Point, the rest of the west coast, et al.) to give this a higher rating. [err, best before: 10.24.14… disregard my ENTIRE review now!] 7/10.

Food match: Staring at the label with the snow-cover log cabin made me think of a hearty beef stew by a nice warm fireplace watching the embers die, or cake.

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