2010 was quite a good beer year. With it came some exceptional stuff like the brews from Element Brewing Company in Central MA and White Birch in Southern NH. Of course there were numerous special releases like the Life and Limb and Bitches’ Brew. I am going to really put myself out there right now and remark on an exceptional beer. I may go so far as to say that this is the beer of 2010. Building up to it like this, I am sure that some names are coming to mind right now and that those names likely include some of the more limited releases. Like I said, I am going to put myself out there and I am going to say that Sierra Nevada Celebration ale is indeed the beer of 2010. There are many reasons why I am willing to go so far as to make such a statement. I’ll even concede to some personal bias but, obviously, the main reason has to do with the quality of the brew. Celebration Ale is always good, but it seemed like this year’s batch was unusually good. Perhaps the hops enjoyed a better growing season? I found this year’s batch quite hoppy (as usual) but unusually fresh tasting. I also just happen to have a particular affinity for the style. I know that there are a lot of hop heads out there and this beer is good enough to satisfy those who love hops without being so over bearing that someone other than a hop enthusiast couldn’t enjoy it. The addition of more malt to bring it to an amber color and give it more body than a typical IPA also lends itself to the creation of a bold beer that remains somewhat approachable. In short, it just doesn’t let you down.
Alright, so we all know that Celebration is a good, solid and consistent beer. Abundance and price are also major considerations in my claim of it as beer of the year. You really can get Celebration at almost any store and the price is usually not too high. I made sure it was on sale at Colonial Spirits so there was certainty about the price not being too high at, at least, one store. Sierra also makes a whole lot of it! Now, it is indeed running dangerously low, but the discussion about the seasonal beers ending early is for another time. Besides, I am sure that many already know my opinion about that. Bottom line: One can get an excellent tasting, high quality beer in whatever quantity they like at a reasonable price.
I do get pretty excited about many of the limited releases that come along, and some of them are certainly worthy of praise. Even praise as the best beer I had in 2010. It is just that I am a bit tired of beers getting extreme praise and ratings more for their scarcity than their quality. I am also tired of great beers coming out in such limited quantities that I am lucky to have 12 bottles to sell to the first 12 people who asked about the beer 2 months before it came out, but not to the 100 more that are really interested in trying it and who love beer but didn’t win the lottery this time. I appreciate that great beer cannot always be made in great quantity, but I am here to deliver beer to the people that want it and I want as many of those people as possible to be able to try this great stuff. Consider Goose Island Bourbon County Vanilla Stout (or the Bourbon County Rare Stout). These sought after beers were so limited that probably not much more than 100 people in the entire state got to buy a bottle. Maybe this was a great beer, but part of being a truly great beer (I think) is being able to do so more than once as well as for a large audience. There is a lot to be said for delivering quality across a diverse group of people and being a consistent winner. There is also a lot to be said about spreading the love. Lots of people like good beer, so make it for as many of them as you can!
Keep in mind that my declaration of Sierra Celebration as beer of 2010 is in no way touting it as the single best beer. It is simply an excellent choice that almost everyone enjoyed. I hope that you enjoyed it as well.