Craft beer is one of the hottest topics in food, pop culture, and the blog-osphere at the moment. So, throughout the month of July, one of the pioneers of craft brewing in the U.S., Sierra Nevada and 12 other craft breweries from across the country made the smart move to capitalize on this recent trendiness of craft beers! It all started with a glorious 12-pack collaboration between Sierra Nevada and these 12 craft breweries, and continued onto this craft beer tasting festival across America. The variety 12-pack was distributed to grocery and specialty stores across the country, and the festival appropriately dubbed Beer Camp (the best kind of adult-only summer camp) made 7 stops across the country highlighting not only the collaboration brews but the scene of local craft breweries as well. And if spreading the knowledge and mouthwatering-ness that is craft beer across the country wasn’t enough, the proceeds from the tickets went toward supporting the local brewers guilds.
As a recently proclaimed, avid craft beer junky, I was of course anxiously awaiting the release of this glorious 12-pack and began to panic was I wasn’t finding it in any of my local grocery or specialty stores. But thankfully, through the wonders of social media I reserved the last one from Whole Foods in Portland, ME (one of the stops on the Beer Camp tour) and picked it up during my weeks vacation at one of Maine’s glorious beaches. So lucky me, I got to taste, enjoy, and dissect each of these specially crafted beers while lounging in the sun with my feet in the sand. Sounds almost too good to be true, and that’s why it only lasted a week 😉
Let me pull you out of your day-dream and back onto the contents of this fabulous, orange box. The promotion of this one-time only variety 12-pack contains 10 bottles and 2 cans, and all suggested to be consumed ASAP to appreciate the flavors of the hops, malts, and barley at their freshest (like that would be a problem).
BEERS AND THEIR BREWERS
There and Back: English Style Bitter – New Glarus Brewing Company
Alt Route: Altbier – Victory Brewing Company
Double Latte: Coffee Milk Stout – Ninkasi Brewing Company
Myron’s Walk: Belgian-Style Pale Ale – Allagash Brewing Company
Tater Ridge: Scottish Ale – Asheville Brewers Alliance
Yvan the Great: Belgian-Style Blonde – Russian River Brewing Company
Torpedo Pilsner: Hoppy Pilsner – Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Chico King: Pale Ale – 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Electric Ray: India Pale Lager – Ballast Point Brewing Company
Maillard’s Odyssey: Imperial Dark Ale – Bell’s Brewing Inc.
Yonder Bock: Tropical Maibock – Cigar City Brewing
Canfusion: Rye Bock – Oskar Blues Brewery
Since I am still somewhat of a novice when it comes to all the terminology that goes into craft beer and brewing (learning more and more everyday!) I can’t comment too much on the methods these beers were brewed with or get into the depths of their components. However, I can give you my opinion on their tastes, flavor profiles, and all-around drinkability! I’ll start with my top 3:
Maillard’s Odyssey was my #1 favorite of them all because, really, it combined the best qualities of my 2 other favorites; the hopiness from the Pilsner and the richer sweetness from the Stout. It had a great bite and bitterness to it, and wasn’t too heavy so I could drink it all day long if I wanted (and oh boy did I want!). But this bad boy also comes in at a hefty 8.5% ABV, so beware!
The Torpedo Pilsner was on the lighter side, with a nice bite and was just so damn refreshing! With a nice, crisp finish and an ABV of only 5.2% I could keep this one flowing.
Double Latte comes in on the totally opposite end of the spectrum, and that’s what I also liked so much about it. I have never really been a fan of heavier beers and stouts, but this Coffee Milk Stout changed my entire outlook on life! (cue The Grinch voiceover). It’s most definitely a rich and creamy, more dessert-style beer (one will suffice at 7.6% ABV), but I got hooked on the aroma alone!
These next 2 beers stood out to m because 1) I am an avid IPA (of any sort, the hoppier the better) fan and 2) I have never heard of a Maibock before (still a craft beer newbie here).
The lager base of Electric Ray puts the hops at center stage where their bitterness can come through in the best way. So since hopiness and a nice bitter bite have become one of my favorite qualities in a beer I thoroughly enjoyed what Ballast Point put together with this flavor-packed, 8.5% ABV brew.
Yonder Bock stood out to me because of its cleaner, crisper and lightly sweet flavors, along with my complete curiosity about what the heck a Maibock is. Turns out Cigar City Brewing knows a thing or two about making a damn good Maibock because when I did some background research this beer hit every key-note, and then some, of what the ideal Maibock should be. The delicious tropical flavors didn’t hurt either! Also dangerously light for a 7.7% ABV.
The rest of the Beer Camp family was quite tasty, and I wouldn’t complain if the breweries added these special edition brews to their regular line up. I also enjoyed the variety of cans and bottles. I think Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp was a genius way to bring craft beer to the masses and help spread the word about local breweries across the country.