Winter is perfect time for Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale

Winter is finally here- kind of. It’s here in spirit, at least, for a day or two when we South Carolinians break out our coats and scarves. With Christmas and New Years happening, warmth and fuzzy feelings are in abundance, especially if you’re spending time with friends and family. Or, maybe you're getting those warm and fuzzy feelings from the second or third of that ale you brought with you. That’s because enjoying a good craft beer can make all those social and family gatherings much more enjoyable, or tolerable depending on how much you actually like your family!

For times like this, I have to go with a rock solid brew like Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, Calif., and Mills River, NC) is quite wonderful at producing some of the best seasonal brews available, and the Celebration Ale is one of my all time favorites. As an IPA, it’s not what you're expecting from something called a “seasonal” brew and the name Celebration is more than just a play on the holidays surrounding this time of year. It’s actually celebrating something: the celebration of hops, and most importantly the hop harvest. It’s an ode to the hop lovers.

For this brew, Sierra Nevada uses whats known as “fresh hops,” and the term actually matters in the world of brewing because this means that the hops are used within about a week of them being harvested. This is absolutely something to be celebrated, because as many know, hop flavors and aroma rapidly change and deteriorate over time.

This brew is fitting for the style- it uses some of the most piney, citrusy hops like Cascade and Centennial, and it really smells like pure hop heaven. It’s quite gorgeous to look at in glass as it’s a deep coppery amber color looks just as festive as the name and season. Upon first sip, it brings out what every hop head around craves: A clean, bright, and juicy hop flavor at the front and center consisting of pine resin, grapefruit citrus flavors, and a hint of cotton candy-like sweetness. The malt backbone is very complementing and not overpowering but holds up well with a clean, bready sweetness, even a touch honey like favor is there. It finishes with a bit of a bitter punch, but remains clean and not overly yeasty throughout. It is a perfect pairing with the Christmas turkeys, pecan pies, glazed honey hams, and of course chocolate chip cookies.

There’s nothing better then sitting back to reflect on the year with a cold brew in your hand but after all of the gift giving and Christmas cheer is done, it’s time to look forward to the new year. In that final count down to midnight on December 31, I can think of no place better to be than out celebrating with my friends and family.

Hurricane Maggie’s in Myrtle Beach will have you covered for “Rocking in the New Year” with live music from The Harvest, brews, snacks, and a champagne toast. The Grumpy Monk in the Carolina Forest area is serving up some specials on On New Year’s Eve with live music and an exciting special edition brew release from the Sweet Water Cask Series.

The biggest event in the area is at The Market Common hosting their annual New Year’s Eve Street Party, A Southern Times Square. With a mirror ball drop and fireworks, the count down should be a spectacular event. There will be two stages with live music and a beer garden with lots of vendors to purchase food and beer from, such as Tupelo Honey and Gordon Biersch, to name a few.

The most important thing to remember about being out and about on New Year’s Eve is to be safe. You're celebrating the start of a brand new year, and the right way to start it is to be happy, healthy, and alive! Eat plenty of food, drink lots of water and don’t risk yourself or your loved one - plan for a cab or a designated driver if you drink. NEVER drink and drive.