Seasonal beers are an odd thing. It seems as if a majority of breweries brew the same styles, without fail, for each season. You know the jist of things….summer is wheat beer season, fall is Oktoberfest and/or pumpkin beer rampage, stouts and winter warmers populate the winter population, and spring is…well, spring is usually a blend of god knows what, but usually lighter bocks and lagers.
Sierra Nevada isn't that different in retrospect to the other breweries. After years of brewing Glissade in the spring, they switched their seasonal this year to Ruthless Rye, a rye-heavy IPA that is as good as you'd expect from Sierra Nevada. Summer brings the light and crisp Summerfest to the forefront. Autumn is now marked by the release of Tumbler brown ale, a different style but the same overall malt-heavy tendencies you'd expect from the fall.
Then, there's winter. Sierra Nevada's winter seasonal is a fresh hop beer, released by many breweries in late September or early October. And hell, Sierra Nevada does that as well with their Estate IPA as well as their Northern and Southern Hemisphere IPAs released in the fall and spring respectively. But for a fresh hop beer to be released in such quantities as a seasonal as Sierra Nevada does in the winter is a little unique. That uniqueness is part of the reason why I love Celebration Ale so much.
Since I've begun drinking craft beer in earnest four years ago, the one seasonal beer I have bought a case of every year has been Celebration Ale. To me, Celebration Ale makes me think of more than just a great-tasting beer. It was one of the first beers I turned my girlfriend on to when we started dating nearly a year ago. It's a beer I've drank while playing the newest Call of Duty game, which always seems to come out nearly the exact same time as Celebration every year. I've had it on bottle, I've had it on draft, I've had it at a local bar, I've had it at a beer bar, I've had it at a chain…Celebration Ale is everywhere.
Just drinking it every year makes me a happy man. Celebration is so tasty, a perfect blend of hops and malt, of bitterness and juiciness. When I'm drinking a Celebration, life just feels better. It's not the same damn winter seasonal you can get from every brewery. It's not an overly boozy stout or syrupy sweet mess that you need to buy a year in advance and let sit in the closet until next winter. It's just perfect.