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Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America

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.

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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 ūüėČ

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:

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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).

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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.

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The Empties

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.

Central Provisions

Central Provisions is a 2-floor, craft beer & cocktail gastropub. The first floor boasts a small and minimalist dining area with a kitchen bar¬†where diners can sit and observe the chefs at work. Downstairs is the restaurants initial claim to fame, the bar, which offers a wide variety of ¬†local craft beers and cocktails. I grabbed lunch with some family there last week so we sat upstairs in the dining room, but if you’re looking to¬†grab some drinks or a little snackity-snack¬†I would definitely suggest sitting downstairs in the bar! There were plenty of open stools (although it was 2:30pm on a Tuesday).

Central Provisions is also very unique in the manner of which they serve their food. Almost every dish comes out on minimalistic wood, slate, or¬†ceramic platters, as to not distract diners from anything but the delicious and complex flavors that have been coaxed out of the seasonal ingredients. Each item that is order also comes out as soon as it is ready, to assure that the diner enjoys their meal at its absolute freshness! Just keep that in mind when ordering because the longer something takes to cook and be prepared, the more you can bank on getting your dish last (but that just gives you more time to try their delicious beers and cocktails right? I see what you’re doing there CP!)

Let’s start off with the libations. I like to consider myself as somewhat of a novice beer enthusiast so I went for 2 Portland-brewed beers from Foundation and Allagash Brewing Companies

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Wanderlust Pilsner from Foundation Brewing Company

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Victoria Ale from Allagash Brewing Company

The Wanderlust was light and refreshing with slight floral notes, but a little sweeter than what I was hoping for. However, it was my first beer from Foundation and made me want to try more from them! This was definitely a beer I could slowly sip sitting out on a dock somewhere in the sunshine. The Victoria on the other hand, had a lot more kick to it thanks to the prevalent bitterness of the hops. Since I do enjoy a more pronounced beer I favored this one, and as a fan of Allagash I was excited to try one of their newer brews! Central Provisions also offers some unique, made in-house sodas such as Pomegranate and Raspberry Herb which were equally as satisfying and delicious with their unique flavor combos.

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Raspberry Herb Soda


By the time we had knocked back our first round the food had begun to arrive!

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Lobster Toast

This is probably the most decadent and flavor-packed take on a lobster sandwich I have ever laid my eyes, or taste buds on. The lobster (fresh Maine of course) is chopped up and whipped into a mousse with green coconut curry, cilantro and ginger, and grilled between 2 delicious pieces of thinly sliced bread. The sandwich was surprisingly light and the lobster flavor was still prevalent enough to balance with the green curry. My best friend was actually the one who ordered this yummy dish, and she said she was pleasantly satisfied and not overstuffed, which is not the norm when it comes to other buttery, grilled sandwiches so bravo!

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Yellowfin Tuna Crudo

Next came the yellowfin tuna crudo. Six slices of fresh, raw yellowfin came plated on a wooden board, dressed with mustard fried onions and a seaweed garnish. The acidity of the onions paired very well with the clean flavors of the fish. I’m also a sucker for a good piece of raw tuna, and on a hot day this dish really hit the spot!

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Beet Salad

I was surprised that out of all the dishes we ordered the beet salad was 3rd to arrive because, well, I assume since it was a salad it required minimal prep compared to the cooked dishes, but a lot more went into this than the average salad! This colorful and refreshing summer salad consisted of both red and chioggia beets (marinated or pickled, I wasn’t quite sure)¬†and an¬†avocado aioli delicately, constructed atop fresh summer greens, all dressed with a lemon olive oil dressing. It was light but packed with SO much flavor. This little salad could have almost sufficed as my whole meal, but of course I proceeded to try everyone else’s food because, well, just look at it!

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Baja Fish Sandwich

The last 2 dishes to come out simultaneously were the sandwiches. Both the Baja fish sandwich and the confit duck panini were served on grilled, thick-cut bread, which was definitely necessary to hold in all the deliciousness. The fish sandwich was pretty straightforward, which I think is the best way to serve fish so you can truly appreciate the flavor. Nestled between some sliced avocado, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, and an avocado aioli, the thick cuts of meaty fish took center stage. There was a great seasoning on the fish as well. I didn’t get a chance to ask exactly what it was but I picked up on some Cajun for sure!

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Confit Duck Panini

And last but the farthest thing from least that could possibly exist in sandwich form, the confit duck panini. It was such a simple sandwich with minimal ingredients but boy was it kick ass! This pan-grilled sandwich was stuff with deliciously decadent confit duck, kim chee, and hoisin aioli. It would have been¬†a little too much if it wasn’t for the acidity of the kim chee that duck the fattiness of the duck just right. This dish was definitely on the saltier side, compared to the others I tried. But that’s nothing another cold beer couldn’t fix ūüėČ


All in all, my family and I had a very satisfying and delightful experience at Central Provisions, and I most definitely wouldn’t mind going back, if only to try more of their extensive craft beer selection downstairs at the bar!

**Food pictured in order which it arrived. Just something to keep in mind when you are thinking about your ordering strategy!**

Beer Ice Cream Floats

You read it right,¬†beer¬†ice cream floats! I have been SO¬†inspired by all the artisnal ice cream flavors and craft beers¬†that have been bursting onto the food scene. Something you all need to know about me is that I have a gigantic sweet tooth and have recently taken to a love affair with microbreweries and craft beer, so when I heard there was a way to combine my two great loves I new I had to try in for myself! Since I am home in New Hampshire for the summer and don’t really have access to the most up-and-comings in food (like I did in New York City) instead of just sitting and dreaming (aka trolling the internet for photos) of sweet beer treats, I set out to make my own. Believe it or not, this required a little bit of research. Since I am not the first person with the genius idea of combining beer and ice cream (in fact, there is a whole¬†beer-centric creamery,¬†Frozen¬†Pints¬†devoted to just that) I found a fair amount of information is available on the all-knowing internet; specifically, the 2 beers that blend best with ice cream are Pale Ales and Stouts¬†and¬†that the notes and flavors of the ice cream must balance out those of the beer.

Now onto the good stuff! I decided to go with some local brews;¬†Shipyard’s Black IPA¬†and¬†Red Hook’s Long Hammer IPA, and keeping¬†with my theme of supporting the small businessman I chose¬†Steve’s Ice Cream¬†(made in¬†Brooklyn) Sunday Morning and Small Batch Bourbon Vanilla flavors. Sunday Morning consists of a buttermilk ice cream with maple syrup swirls and crunchy waffle pieces and don’t let the subtle Bourbon Vanilla fool you, its definitely more bourbon that it is vanilla. I decided to pair Sunday Morning with¬†the deep and savory Black IPA, and thought the strong base flavors¬†of the Bourbon Vanilla would play well with the bitter and citrusy flavors in the Long Hammer.¬†I also picked up some old-time soda fountain glasses and straws from Homegoods.

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Steve’s Sunday Morning Ice Cream & Shipyard’s Black IPA

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Steve’s Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream & Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

To keep things cool I popped the glasses into the freezer for a couple of minutes before I loaded them up with love. In the 8oz class I poured about half a bottle of Black IPA in (like a pro so no foam here!) dropped in 2 scoops of Sunday Morning, and topped it off with (almost) the rest of the beer. I poured the Long Hammer IPA into the 6oz glass, just about half way, added 2 scoops of Bourbon Vanilla, and topped it off until there was about half left in the bottle. The frothy foam that rises to the top  was my first taste and it only had me wanting more, but I recommend mixing the ice cream in there to get the fully blended flavors!

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There you have it! A modern take on a nostalgic sweet treat. The dark float turned out just as I had hoped; the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and creamy, but not too sweet and¬†it still retained a decent bitterness. The lighter float came out something like a creamcicle, but with an unexpected¬†bite from the citrus and bourbon.¬†Suffice to say my tastebuds and tummy¬†were elated with how these creamy babies turned out! But don’t worry, my search for¬†craft beer-infused recipes will not stop here. If you have a beer-themed recipe share the wealth in a comment below!