Most of the year I look right past the reds. Amber ales are just not my thing. However, the holiday season sees a lot of breweries releasing seasonal reds that are drastically different than the usual. One of my favorite holiday seasonals is Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA.
Though classified as an IPA, there is a definite influence from amber malt heavily in the aroma and more subtly but detectable in the flavor.
I have always loved the color imparted from the amber malt, and Celebration is no exception. It is a beautiful golden shimmering red with a massive cream colored head. The frothy foam receded very slowly and was never less than ½” thick atop the beer.
The nose picks up hints of clean and fresh hops, but the aroma is more dominated by a pleasantly sweet, roasty, biscuity, and a bit yeasty profile.
The beer has a solid medium body tasting thicker and creamier than you might expect, but then again, the 6.8% ABV says this is no small beer. In the total opposite of the aroma, the flavor is dominated by hops with the malt being present but only playing a supporting role in the overall composition. The early flavors in each sip are those of a slight fruitiness but more defined by bready and biscuity notes. Still, the hop undertones are detectable early. However, the back of the tongue is the stage for the hops to really shine. Fresh, clean, and citrusy…the contributions and rewards of fresh hopping are clearly tasted. And in the West Coast style, a long piney dankness sits on the tongue long after the liquid has been swallowed.
Celebration shows enough of the malt influence to blur the lines between classification as a hoppy red or an IPA. But no matter the style-label, the best descriptor is delicious.
Celebration is a beer definitely best enjoyed fresh so grab yours ASAP. And even if you’re all about the hops, it’s worth your while to check out some of the seasonal reds this time of year.
Aroma (pleasantly sweet and a bit yeasty)…8/10
Taste (hop dominant but detectable malt influences)…8/10
Style-Appropriateness (hoppy red or red IPA?)…6/10
P.S. With regards to another red that I avoid all but one time of year, registration for the Land Run 100 in Stillwater, OK and its infamous red clay hike-a-bike sections is this weekend. The field limit of 1000 will fill fast so get registered at 7:00 AM Saturday and let’s meet for a beer at Iron Monk.
Alex writes a beer review every other Friday. Two weeks ago he reviewed Sixpoint’s 5BEANS.