In this study, the ability of various sludges to digest a diverse range of cellulose and cellulose-derived substrates was assessed at different temperatures to elucidate the factors affecting hydrolysis. For this purpose, the biogas production was monitored and the specific biogas activity (SBA) of the sludges was employed to compare the performance of three anaerobic sludges on the degradation of a variety of complex cellulose sources, across a range of temperatures. The sludge with the highest performance on complex substrates was derived from a full-scale bioreactor treating sewage at 37 °C. Hydrolysis was the rate-limiting step during the degradation of complex substrates. No activity was recorded for the synthetic cellulose compound carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) using any of the sludges tested. Increased temperature led to an increase in hydrolysis rates and thus SBA values. The non-granular nature of the mesophilic sludge played a positive role in the hydrolysis of solid substrates, while the granular sludges proved more effective on the degradation of soluble compounds.