Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 12 Beers of Christmas : 1 Sierra Nevada

Good tidings, beer friends!

It's a really awesome, terrific, wonderful, totally brilliant time of year, don't you agree?

Pardon my excitement, but I put a lot of pressure on myself to inhale as much of this Christmas stuff as I can in one month's time. I have joked that December is the only time I'm really happy; I truly dig the whole yuletide thing - the lights, the countless (and awful) renditions of "Santa Baby", the limited edition flavors hastily advertised on coffee shop chalkboards - it's all pretty great, and I turn giddy as soon the season is upon us.

And possibly drunk. Pictured: Not me.  That you know of. 

It's that last point that I'm especially fond of. Christmastime gives us license to go above and beyond with the goodies - egg nog, baked goods, obnoxiously overpriced lattes. But it turns out that many of those flavors associated with the season - cinnamon, clove, orange peel - happen to lend themselves to one of my other favorite passions:

Beer, obviously (Ben likes beer).

So, welcome to the 12 Beers of Christmas, where I use the season as an an excuse to drink copious amounts of seasonal beers and share my thoughts with you fine people. 12 different kinds of beer may seem like a lot (and my wallet is probably inclined to agree with you), but it's actually only a small sampling of what's a pretty enormous "category" of beer, especially given that I'm wrapping, however unjustly, Christmas beers alongside their broader Winter brethren. Still, there tends to be a running theme across the lot, and, despite a few random surprises (which we'll get into), they all seem to fit snugly into a certain collection of expectations - warming, spicy, brown, medium bodied. And we're running the gamut here, from widely available six-packs, to highly sought after, limited batch from the monasteries. Without further adieu...

First Day of Beermas

Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop Ale 
Sierra Nevada Brewing, Chico, CA. Widely Available.
6.8% ABV

Sort of a lob to start this thing off, Celebration is a beer you've likely encountered as a seasonal offering at your local bar (I'd say "or grocer," but most of my Pennsylvanian/Marylander readers don't have that luxury), and it's a dependable, drinkable choice.

Hoppy, but not bitter (aside from a small nibble at the outset), the sweet malts take over mid-sip. Even though the term "Fresh Hop Ale" might evoke a sense of Spring, there's a distinct "wintery" taste here, with a nice warmth that comes along despite its lighter body and decided lack of spicy flavors (maybe due in part to its ever-so-slightly elevated ABV). Still, Fresh Hop is an apt label that does well to highlight the crisp flavors at play. So, more fresh snowfall that freshly cut lawn, if you will. Celebration is a very casual entry to the 12 Beers of Entry, an option that should suit a wide array of tastes, since it doesn't do anything too crazy or outlandish.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop Ale might not necessarily be a beer to look forward to come Christmastime, but it doesn't have to be; it's comfortable with what it is: a very drinkable, very tasty beer that tweaks the standard Sierra offering into something that would do well as the go-to beer for your Holiday gathering.

Celebration Christmas Ale. Picture from

Check back for the next beer soon!


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