This year’s Sierra Nevada Beer Camps are being described as epic adult day camps. It’s nothing new to say that craft beer is a journey. The growth of craft beer has led to an abundance of beer festivals. Check your local beer calendars and you’ll find a craft beer festival almost every week of the year. Like searching out a fascinating new beer, how about the experience of going to a festival that is looking to be…different?
The Chico, CA Beer Camp is Saturday May 12th from 12-8 and the Mills River, NC Beer Camp is June 16th from 12-5. At each festival you’ll be invited to choose your own adventure and make it what you want it to be. Each location will be loaded with entertainment – activities and games, lounge areas to chill out as long as you like, lots of food and food trucks, rock climbing walls, Hammer-Schlagen®(a nail driving competition), a silent disco (you need to try this!), and much more. Both will have free shuttle rides, either from downtown Chico or Asheville, to ease any driving woes.
The two festivals offer the same beer experience but while the Chico Beer Camp will be activity oriented, the Mills River will be more music oriented. The festival’s opening act will be Asheville’s The Broadcast, a soulful blues roots rock band, followed by the headliner Zach Deputy whose style is described as “island-infused drum n’ bass gospel ninja soul.”
There’s a big change at the festivals this year – it’s not going to be a wristband, glass and unlimited sampling kind of deal. First off, the sampling glass isn’t glass. It’s a Silipint branded pint that won’t break when dropped and that’s a perk. Secondly, it’s now a beer ticket event and only Sierra Nevada beers will be offered. Rest assured there will be PLENTY of beers from which to choose. You can enjoy beer by the pint or by the sample. This is where beer exploration takes place and you enjoy your beer adventure. There will be a beer tasting tent for the collaboration beers – redeem one beer ticket to receive a tasting card. Inside the tent you can try a 2-3oz pour of all six beers (12oz + in total) and this allows you to see which beer grabs your fancy to get a full pint of later. All around the festival there will be draught stations where 1 ticket gets a 12oz pour and also 12oz can stations. For the higher ABV beers like the Coffee Stout and Saison, there will be slightly smaller pours due to their higher alcohol content.
What works well with ticket-based beer pours is it allows you to think about which beer you want to give a ticket for later. At unlimited pour festivals, you can go from station to station and your glass can always be full and yet you may not remember what you’ve had because eventually it becomes a blur. With a ticket, you want to think for a second – do you want to get a sample just to try or commit to a 12oz pour? There’s plenty of selection with Sierra Nevada’s other beers but if you’re looking to try the collaborations – definitely explore the sample tent first! Festivals allow you to explore new beers, potentially find a new favorite and also put a little note in your head to remind you to find that beer long after the festival is gone (except the collaborations, they’re a one-off). IF they happen to have any of the collaboration beers left, which is doubtful but could happen, they will be offered in the taproom until they run out.
Of course, the big draw for both festivals is the beer! In previous years, they offered collaboration beers they produced with award-winning homebrewers, and then with breweries across America, and finally with international breweries. This year they decided to bring it back to the brewery – employee collaboration beers. Sierra Nevada opened it up to all employees to submit beer recipes or, for those don’t brew but know what they would like in a beer, just ideas for beer for this year’s collaboration. Creativity from within is the emphasis and when you see the six collaboration beers they brewed, they are truly unique!
This year’s Chico Beer Camp is already sold out as if there was any doubt that would happen. The key with ticket-based festivals is to get your beer tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to wait on line there. It’s always good to be prepared! There’s still time to get your entrance and beer tickets to Mills River – but don’t wait.
Whether you’re going to Chico or Mills River, to have an overall great time – EXPLORE! You can be as active as you like with what they have to offer or as relaxing as you like with all the Hammock lounge stations. There’s a lot of beer so enjoy in moderation and never drink and drive – we want you around so you can enjoy Beer Camp next year!
Here’s a look at the Sierra Nevada Employee Collaboration Beers:
|Paloma IPA: IBU-55, ABV 6.8%
This crisp West coast IPA is brewed with grapefruit and lime to capture the refreshing tart flavors of the Paloma cocktail. The grapefruit and lime accentuate and add depth to the citrus and flora notes created through the combination of Citra, Strata, and Crystal hops
|IPL: IBU 45, ABV 4.8%
This unfiltered lager is hopped with a whopping combination of Mosaic, Mandarina, Simcoe, and Citra lupulin power to pack a citrus and tropical fruit aromatic punch. We balanced out the smooth malt sweetness with even more hops including El Dorado, Galaxy, and Nug 33.
|Hoppy American Wheat: IBU 30, ABV 5.8%
This heavily dry hopped American wheat is a bold and juicy take on the traditional wheat beer. Delicious tropical fruit notes are balanced by a mouthwatering tartness created with the addition of just the right amount of sour wort.
|Turkish Coffee Stout: IBU 28, ABV 7%
Turkish coffee is known for being bold, syrupy, and spicy. We added cardamom directly to the brew kettle to balance the vanilla and toffee notes of the mash. Then we steeped freshly ground coffee directly in the bright tank to impart a full and rich coffee aroma.
|Blackberry Saison: IBU 27, ABV 7.5%
With its pine aroma and sparkling fruit finish, this ale will invoke summer days spent in the woods, eating berries right off the bush. Blackberry wine along with piney Chinook hops and earthly Mosaic hops create a perfectly balanced take on this farmhouse style.
|Sour Belgian Wit: IBU 15, ABV 5%
Move over Mimosa, there’s a new brunch champion in town. We added oranges to almost every part of the brewing process; oranges in the mash, orange peel and coriander in the whirlpool, oranges in the lauter tun, and orange peel in the fermenter. All this citrus accentuates the tart notes of sour wort in kettle, creating a jammy, juicy, and wonderfully lively Belgian Wit.