More Than 30 Years of Celebration

sierra nevadaSometimes the simplest things can keep you engaged year after year. For some, that’s finding a passion in an art — for others it could be a relationship that stands the test of time. For Steve Dresler, the head brewer for Sierra Nevada, it has been the brewing of Celebration Ale, a beer brewed since 1981.

“I love the anticipation of the release,” Dresler said with one of the most enthusiastic passionate voices a person could possess to describe a beer. But, for Dresler, Celebration Ale isn’t just any typical brew. For him it represents a changing of a season, and for someone who spends the vast majority of his time focusing on the quality of Sierra Nevada’s signature Pale Ale, it’s a time for him to divert his focus and work on a new craft.

“We never brew it until right after hop harvest so that we can get the best freshest hops possible,” said Dresler. “I like that we’ve stuck to that tradition since the creation of the brewery.”

Dresler admitted that brewing Celebration Ale earlier, before hops harvest, would be advantageous to the marketing and sales department to assist in hitting the season. However, that tradition, and sticking to the original guns, has kept Celebration Ale a unique brew. “It’s a classic,” said Dresler. “We had a beer festival at the brewery for the first time earlier in the month to celebrate hops, it was called ‘Single Fresh, Wet and Wild.’ We were looking at all different wet hop beers and wild hop beers.

“I was working the booth for a while and one of the beers we were going to roll on was Celebration Ale. That was a 30-plus-year-old beer, and people were coming up to the table wanting to know when we were going to put on Celebration Ale, because it was their first glimpse of it for the year. I thought that was really cool. It’s a long tenured brand that still has a lot of anticipation around it.”

Dresler, 30 years ago, pulled up to the brewery in his Volkswagen Van and never went home. To him, it seems like it was just yesterday. He joined the passionate movement that was craft beer in its infancy, along with the team at Sierra Nevada, and got his hands dirty in some of the freshest hops in the world. “It’s kind of like, ‘what the fuck happened,’” he laughed. “I’m one of the most blessed individuals in the industry. I’ve been working Celebration Ale for 30 years, now I get to maintain Pale Ale, which is my favorite beer on the planet. It’s very exciting times at Sierra Nevada, we are making some really wonderful beers with great flavors.”


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