Tasting Notes: Sierra Nevada Celebration Clone and Pa’s Video Board Lager

I make a distinction between drinking beer and tasting beer. Intuitively one would think you taste beer as you drink it. Technically this is true, but I find when I am drinking a beer I don’t taste is as critically as I would if I went in trying to just taste it.

When I write a “Tasting Notes” post, I will carefully fill a glass, hold the glass up to the light taking note of the color, clarity, and head. Next I will smell the beer and note what aromas I am getting. Then I will take my first sip and note flavors and palate sensations. If I am socially having a beer, I will just throw it back like a normal person.

These beers were both brewed to serve at a family Christmas party. I brought the leftovers to the North Shore Brewers holiday party. I didn’t have a chance to really sit down and evaluate either beers like I normally would, but I do have some general thoughts on both.


The 2015 Pa’s Video Board Lager was the worst one yet. It was still good, but I noticed a few flaws and things I want to change to perfect the brew. There was a low, but noticeable sourness to the beer. I used lactic acid drops to lower the pH of the mash. That the sourness made it through to the final beer makes me think I added too many drops. I also didn’t rack the beer for secondary fermentation which I think effected the clarity of the beer. Removing the dry hops that I used in the 2014 version really changed the character more than I had expected. I fully expect to bring them back in 2016.

I’ll be darned if the Celebration clone didn’t taste like Celebration! I think the adjustments I made to the recipe were right on the money. By modern standards Celebration isn’t much of a hop bomb, but this recipe shows you don’t have to use a pound of hops per gallon to brew a beer with a really nice hop flavor. The caramel malt also worked nicely with the hops. Not every hoppy beer has to be gold or lighter in color.

There was also some hop matter that made it into the keg. I need to use a nylon bag or some other type of filtration when racking into kegs. The clarity of the beer was poor; I think a secondary fermentation may have helped here too.

For next year I will brew these beers earlier so I have time for a secondary fermentation. I think giving these beers some time off the yeast to clear before packaging will help. A lager phase for Pa’s Lager will help smooth out the flavor. At the club’s holiday party, I received positive feedback on both beers. I enjoyed drinking both of them. That doesn’t mean I can’t make some minor tweaks to improve them for next year.

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