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Nov 21, 2010 09:05 AM

SN Celebration

Picked some up several days ago Fresh Hop IPA......very enjoyable.......I thought they played around, and changed up the offering year by the past I have not seen "Fresh Hop " monicker.....or at least not recently, and it tastes distinctively different than last years offering.
Am I mistaken.
Thanks for takes and info.

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    1. Yeah I too noticed the new marketing tag. But, it's still the same as ever, still good. Though I havent liked any of their newer offerings. I miss the Pale Bock so much I could cry

      2 Replies
      1. re: MOREKASHA

        I have fond memories of pale bock, which was many years ago.

        1. re: MOREKASHA

          I missed Sierra Nevada's Pale Bock terribly as well. But have you not tasted Sierra Nevada's seasonal Glissade, which first appeared last February? It is a pale bock, and it _is_ similar to SN's earlier brew. It's got far more lovely fragrant hoppiness to it than just about any other example of the style around. Now, it's not precisely the same brew (the ABV is just a tad lower), but it will more than suffice for me.

        2. At first I thought that this year's Celebration seemed a tad milder in the hop department than in previous years. That initial sample, however, was from TJ's, where they don't refrigerate their beer. On my next sample, I found Celebration hoppy -- and delicious -- as ever.

          1. Celebration has always been brewed with the first (dried) hops of the season. Its just SN's marketing department who decided to change the definition of "fresh hops" when it started making the Southern Hemisphere Harvest ale where they couldn't ship fresh undried hops to CA, but wanted to market it in a similar way as their Harvest Ale (now called Northern Hemisphere Harvest). Then they decided, to call Celebration a fresh hop beer too. May also be a way to get fledgling craft beer fans to recognize it as a hoppy beer that is best when drank fresh, instead of a spiced christmas beer - or just more clever marketing?

            From what I understand it is basically the same recipe it always has been - its just that being a seasonal product using the first batch of hops harvested, may be slighlty different each year (or batch imo) due to the variables of using an agricultural product to make it. Always tasty and so damn drinkable though.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LStaff

              "Its just SN's marketing department who decided to change the definition of "fresh hops"..."

              I don't know- I'd sort of say that Sierra Nevada maintains the historic use of the term "fresh hops", since almost without exception, hops were always dried, usually in the fields on a daily basis during harvest. Note that "SierraNevadaBill" in that link above implies S-N coined the term "wet hop".

              ( I've only found one instance of a modern industrial/commercial brewery [say mid-1800's-on] using "wet" hops in the pre-craft era [and, unfortunately for my position, they DID call them "fresh hops"- damn!]. If you go back even further, before modern transportation, I say it was even more unlikely that "wet hops" ever made it to breweries).

              Before the relatively current -last couple of decades- use of undried hops for beer, they were usually referred to as "raw hops" "green hops", etc., by the hop growers.

              Why have two terms in the industry - "wet hops" and "fresh hops" - that mean the same thing? Of course, the question then becomes- how long do refrigerated hops stay "fresh"? Are only whole flower hops "fresh"? Can pellets be "fresh"?

              1. re: JessKidden

                Yeah, I would like to know how long freshly dried hops are considered fresh too. Is it one week, two, a month?

                To me the names wet hops and fresh hops are synomonous and once the are dried, they are no longer fresh. Like fresh herbs vs. dried herbs.

                But hey, if SN "coined " the term according to SN's PR guy - I guess the term is theirs to muck with. ;-) Its all in the spin.

                1. re: LStaff

                  I think the terms 'spin' and 'PR' have a minimal overlap with SN.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    So you don't see SN's changing of the term fresh hops as a spin when they needed to market their Southern Hemisphere Harvest ale and could not ship wet hops from New Zealand? It was pretty obvious to me - especially when they had been doing the same for Celebration for years, but never marketed it that way. It was because they were marketing the Harvest concept and couldn't use wet hops like their other Harvest ale, but wanted their customers to get excited about a new "fresh" hop beer.

                    Just because its a craft beer/brewer and are not doing it on the scale of the likes of A-BI or MC, and aren't advertising on tv doesn't mean they aren't doing it. The beer business is more about marketing than it is the product itself - craft brewers are just marketing something a little different and in somewhat different ways.

                    I love how beer geeks get all high and mighty about the "sheeple" who have been lead "astray" by big beer marketing, but fall for the similar tricks when employed by craft brewers. One of the best examples I see is craft brewers who only make a small amount of special releases (when they could make more - I understand that some just can't) in order to make their fans feel special that they got a chance to drink their rare beer - and pricing them beyond what they are really worth to give it the impression of being special or of great quality ala Corona.

                    Just look at the topics for the last craft brewers conference, that alone tells you they are thinking about marketing, PR, and how their brands are percieved in order to generate more revenue. Its not all peace, love, and hippiness, its a business, just like any other.

            2. Anyone else catching a slight phenolic character in this year's (batch 0278 to be specific) Celebration? Its subtle, so it could just be the spiciness of the hops, or its just me as I am very sensitive to off flavors, but it just doesn't seem to have that classic SN clean alcohol profile that I love.

              8 Replies
              1. re: LStaff

                Our esteemed local beer writer noticed off flavors and more. An interesting read, to be sure.


                1. re: TroyTempest

                  I don't agree that this year's Celebration Ale is worse than last year's, and, generally speaking, I think CA has been extremely consistent in the past several years (I've had it every year since '88). But the claim of this writer and his buddy that they would not (on the basis of taste) identify this year's CA as a Sierra Nevada product? I find that absurd. Either their palates are impaired or they came across a seriously mutated sample.

                  1. re: Kenji

                    i generally trust his opinion, and he brought in some knowledgeable folks to taste with him, so i doubt their palates are impaired.

                    1. re: TroyTempest

                      If wasn't a blind tasting. And even if he stated that the premise was to see whether it's different between '09 and '10, you're introducing bias into the tasting. I doubt he was that judicious in setting up the tasting ("I think the 2010 SNCA sucks, tell me what you think").

                      That said, I'm paying more attention while drinking the next 12-pack I pick up (tonight, hopefully). I thought it was about par on the first try.

                      Honestly, I think I/we are spoiled b/c there are so many other good hoppy beers out there that didn't exist 14 years ago when I started drinking SNCA.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        The guy says the brew tastes "short on malt on hops." Alright, then, what does he suppose it is _made_ from? Hops will vary slightly from year to hear (though I contend this year's brew does not skimp on hops by any stretch of the imagination); but if there is some drastic reduction in malt, this will have an obvious impact on the beer's ABV and body. I've sampled this year's CA four different times now, from four different outlets, and I see no such ill effects. (Though, as I mentioned earlier, my first sample wasn't treated right, and the hops seemed slightly faded in it.)

                        I think your best bet would be to put this fellow's review out of your head and sample the beer yourself. I know that I, for one, would instantly and easily recognize it in a blind tasting as SNCA.

                        1. re: Kenji

                          Well, I finally got around to buying a sixer of the SNCA. I had been enjoying the St. Arnold's Xmas Ale, so i had to finish it first. I thought it tasted fine, actually good, better than fine. I haven't had it in a year, and my memory and palate aren't good enough to compare it to last years, but it was good with just right hoppiness.

                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            I agree with you. Glad you tried (and enjoyed) it.

                    2. re: TroyTempest

                      >There's some kind of funky, baby diaper aroma in there

                      I didn't get the "not malty or hoppy as last year's", as I thought that was fine in that regard. In fact I thought the first couple of batches from '09 weren't as malty as this year's. But I did detect a little spiciness - somewhat clovey, somewhat pasticy (which is how I would describe baby diaper) that was out of the norm for Sierra Nevada.

                      Comparing an aged beer to fresh though, is not comparing apples to apples.

                      Thanks for the link though, I thought I was going crazy, but it seems others have detected an issue as well.