Looking Back at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Mills River 2018

The big day has come and gone for the Sierra Nevada Mills River Beer Camp. Looking back at the article we wrote before attending the event, how did it stack up? So many things to do and lots of beer to try especially the Employee Collaborations: did it live up to the expectations and hype? Let’s start from the very beginning…

There was no parking at the event location but plenty of shuttle busses servicing the surrounding area. We parked at the Hendersonville Courthouse where several busses were ready and ready. It was a continuous process to get people to the event and the wait relatively short. We were sort of surprised that the event itself was not at the brewery but in a field elsewhere on the property. Several people asked where the actual brewery was and were informed it was simply another road off the roundabout.

The check-in was quick – plenty of staff checking IDs and tickets. When you entered, the excitement ensued. It was very spacious and there were activities throughout. There were more activities to participate in than there were beer stations – which is actually cool and fitting since the name of the event is “Beer Camp”.

To our right of the entrance were the Employee Collaboration stations. Guests could either get a full pint for a ticket or could go to the Collaboration Tent to try a sample of all of them for a single ticket. The Collaboration tent had short lines that moves quick. We unfortunately encountered a situation with two of the guests that was a little frustrating but not enough to really worry about. Apparently, they didn’t like waiting on lines. Once they got their sample, they would casually move over to the next table, strike up a conversation with the people at the front of the line and then follow them along to get their next sample. We watched this happened from Station 1 to Station 5.

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While on line for Station 6, I was caught off guard (ever so briefly) when I noticed someone looking right at me. Was it my NCBeerGuys shirt that was drawing attention? Nope, it was Brian Grossman, Co-Owner of  Sierra Nevada, GM of the Mills River location and more importantly – son of Ken Grossman. I’ve met several times at NC Beer Guild events so thankfully I recognized him right away. Great seeing him enjoying beer and waiting on line to try the collabs. I took the chance to highly recommend that they bottle the IPL. Of the six collaboration beers, that one was my favorite. The others were fantastic but this one stood out with its wonderfully crisp flavor with just the right amount of hop bitterness.

The Sierra Nevada standard beer offerings were aplenty at other stations that also had nice short lines. A nice selection to choose from when this year chose not to have other breweries present. It was definitely not a shortcoming or lack of variety in beer.

On to check out the activities! There was the human foosball; ropes course (which was sort of like a mini American Ninja Warrior), rock climbing wall; bouncing stations; keg bowling, which was actually keg tossing; silent disco, human hungry hippo; mini-BMX bike course; arts and crafts; Hammer-Schlagen -single hit with a hammer on the pointy side, not the nice big side; hammock lounge stations; and cornhole. No one could say they were bored! I’ve never done a rock climbing wall and in watching others scale the wall I figured I’d have no problem. When there’s no place to firmly put your foot, that I didn’t find at that very moment and nowhere to grab, it’s a good thing I was tethered.

Time to eat! There was a big assortment of food trucks, but with food trucks came the nice long lines. The particular truck we ordered from, order to delivery was relatively quick. Unfortunately, the duration we had to wait in line was a different issue, especially when you’re hungry.

Departure from Beer Camp was nice and easy. Busses to the various area locations were ready and waiting. Once a bus was filled, or after a period of time ready to go, the bus was on the move. The ride was air conditioned and comfortable and it was a good transition back to reality.

The question in regard to it changing from an unlimited pour to a beer ticket event would be “Did it work?”. It was 1 ticket for a pint (equates to five(ish) 3oz pours) or 1 ticket for the whole Collaboration Tent (6 X 3oz pours > pint). All total the five tickets equal 26 3oz pours. That’s a good amount of beer and why we had so many tickets leftover. Think about how many samples you’ve had at the unlimited tasting events where there’s beer, food and some local vendors and then the cost of it. At Beer Camp, there’s beer, food, souvenir shop AND all the wild activities which honestly puts it to a whole other level. Craft beer is great fun but when you get to have even more fun with activities, it’s worth marking the calendar for next year.