Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Celebration Ale. Great Lakes Brewing set the bar pretty high for being first out of the gate but Celebration Ale is no slouch of a beer.
You won't be surprised to find that Celebration Ale is upfront on the hops. It's probably the first thing you pick up in the aroma and if you miss it in the taste you just don't understand the Christmas spirit. The color is copper or rust - or somewhere in between. Let's be honest, color is fine but it's all about the taste. The hop and malt flavors are pretty well balanced throughout - leaving the taste buds with that bittersweet feeling that is so appropriate for the holidays. That said, this is a Sierra Nevada brew so the hops are ever present. The flavor lingers a bit and brings about that warm feeling everybody needs in the winter months. It's medium-bodied so will not fill you up, which is good because you will certainly need a second - and third.
Sierra Nevada, like many of the older craft brewers, is fairly "user friendly". You know what you're getting with the signature Pale Ale. What makes them a great craft brewer is a willingness to push their brews into new areas while staying true to their brand. Whether it's a seasonal brew, a limited brew, or a year round brew you know a Sierra Nevada when you drink it. Of course, anybody can do that. Staying true and maintaining creativity is the great craft brew challenge. Sierra Nevada doesn't disappoint.