Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2017

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The 2017 version of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp was released this week, so Michelle and I picked up a case and tried them out over the past couple of days.  This year, Sierra Nevada collaborated with 12 different breweries, 6 from the US and 6 from around the world, to create a dozen unique beers for this one time only release.  There are 9 12 oz bottles and 3 16 oz cans (I don’t think think I’ve ever had a mixed pack of bottles and cans before). So are they any good?  Read below to find out what we thought.

Beer: East Meets West IPA
Collaborator: Tree House Brewing Company in Boston, MA

We started out with this 16 oz can, which is apparently one of the selling points of this box.  I’ve never had a beer from Tree House Brewing, but they make some of the highest rated IPAs in the world.  This beer isn’t even the best IPA I’ve had, but it is very good. There was a strong hop aroma of pineapple, grapefruit and pine. It’s a very smooth beer with light carbonation and massive fruit flavor and just a bit of bitterness in the finish.

Michelle’s take: “This is what beer is supposed to taste like.  Very easy to drink!”

Beer: Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale
Collaborator: Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, CO

Avery is one of my favorite breweries.  Their stouts, IPAs and sour beers are always amazing, so I was a bit surprised that their contribution here is a barleywine, but it works. It isn’t as sweet as I’d think from a barleywine, and I suspect that the dry hopping helped mellow out the sweetness some.  The flavor is some caramel and grapefruit with the floral hop flavor dominating.  It almost seems as much like a double IPA as it does a barleywine.

Michelle’s take: “At first I was like no but then I was like hmmmm…”.  It seems like this one grew on her after a few sips.

Beer: Thai-Style Iced Tea Ale
Collaborator: Mikkeller Brewery in Denmark

This is the first of the international beers we tried and it’s quite unique.  The aroma is tea and it has an overwhelming tea flavor along with a bit of licorice.  It’s a sweet beer and very creative but I’m not sure I love this one.

Michelle’s take: “I hate tea but beer makes tea better.  I mean I’ll drink it because it’s our third beer.”

Beer: Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale
Collaborator: Fuller’s Brewery in the UK

I’ve had a Fuller’s Vintage Ale before so I expected something good and this didn’t disappoint. The bottle mentions that this beer would be a good one to age, and I have to agree, but it wasn’t bad at all fresh.  The beer is brewed with plums and it is obvious in the aroma. It’s a sweet beer with plum flavor but the flavor of floral hops balance it out well.  There is medium bitterness in the finish.

Michelle: “It kind of tastes like juice with water in it.  Very fruity.”

Beer: Ginger Lager
Collaborator: Surly Brewing Co in Minneapolis, MN

This was the first beer for our second (and final) day of the Beer Camp journey. I only get Surly beer when I go to Illinois to visit family, so I haven’t tried many, but hoppy is the best way to describe every beer I’ve had from them.  This one is completely different. There is a lot of ginger here which fades into a bit of heat and a light vanilla flavor. If you don’t love ginger, you may not like this one, but it’s a great beer for anyone who loves ginger and spice.

Michelle’s take: Refreshing, the ginger isn’t overwhelming.  She wasn’t a fan of the texture of the beer but couldn’t explain exactly why.

Beer: Dunkle Weisse
Collaborator: Ayinger Brewery in Germany

I haven’t had anything from Ayinger other than their doppelbock Celebrator, which is good, but they seem to focus a lot on their wheat beers and I’ve never tried one.  These types of beers are difficult for me to review because I hate banana flavor and most wheat beers have it.  This one is no exception.  There is a nice clove flavor as well as a bit of smokiness which salvage this one for me.  Not my favorite but not bad for the style.

Michelle’s take: “Not a beer I would normally drink voluntarily.”  She thought the banana and smokiness stood out.

Beer: White IPA with Yuzu
Collaborator: Kiuchi Brewery in Japan

I’ve never had yuzu before so I wasn’t sure to expect, bu there is a light lime and grapefruit flavor to this beer.  The fruit flavor is followed by coriander, nutmeg, and some bitterness in the aftertaste.  Some unique flavors here which make it worth a try, but still my least favorite IPA in Beer Camp.

Michelle’s take:  She liked it a lot.  I didn’t get much more out of her on this one but it’s not surprising that she enjoyed an IPA.

Beer: Raspberry Sundae Ale
Collaborator: The Bruery in Placentia, CA

Raspberry is one of my favorite flavors and this beer is very strong with it.  I’ve had a few raspberry beers before, but they were always sour beers.  This one has no hint of sourness, and fits the name quite well with hints of vanilla and chocolate.  It’s sweet, delicious, and definitely tastes like a beer from The Bruery.

Michelle’s take:  She said it didn’t seem too sweet to her and thought it had a good chocolate flavor.  I think maybe her taste buds are broken.  She did like it a lot.

Beer: Dry-Hopped Berliner-Style Weisse
Collaborator: Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX

This is the closest thing to a local brewery in Beer Camp here in Dallas.  I’ve had dozens of beers from Saint Arnold, but I think I’ve only ever had one sour beer from them, Boiler Room, which is also a Berliner Weisse.  I expected big things from this and it delivered.  Strong pine flavor from the hops to go along with a tart lemon flavor.  It was a smooth and refreshing beer, and it’s disappointing that I’ll probably never have it again. One of my favorite Beer Camp beers.

Michelle’s take:  She shook her head, grimaced, and said “What is this????”. OK, she’s never going to like a sour beer.

Beer: Dry-Hopped Belgian Golden
Collaborator: Duvel Moortgat in Belgium

This is my least favorite Beer Camp beer.  It’s just not a style that I like very much, but it’s probably a good representation of a Belgian golden ale.  The addition of lemon peel kept it interesting enough that I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t drink it again.

Michelle’s take: She was a fan of this one.  I didn’t get anything else out of her, but she drank it pretty quickly.

Beer: Campout Porter
Collaborator: Garage Project in New Zealand

I’m a big fan of dark beers and this is the only one in Beer Camp so I was looking forward to it. The label stated that they were trying to go for a roasted marshmallow flavor.  The roasted malts, along with some caramel and vanilla do create this flavor pretty well.

Michelle’s take: “This is fine.  This is good.”  I think she was drunk at this point.  Getting anything else out of her proved near impossible.

Beer: West Coast DIPA
Collaborator: Boneyard Beer in Bend, OR

I didn’t know what to think of this beer because I’ve never heard of Boneyard, but it ended up being my favorite Beer Camp beer.  They must have used a ton of hops in this one and there is an explosion of flavor. A light amount of fruitiness that tasted like orange to go along with big herbal flavors that I could probably describe better if it wasn’t my final beer of the night.

Michelle’s Take – “Yum!”.  I think it was her favorite beer as well.

Summary

beercamp-3

Last year was the first time that I was able to try Beer Camp, and it was a bit of a disappointment.  This time around it was excellent. There are a lot of creative takes on a good variety of styles from some amazing breweries.  If you like hoppy beers, there is a lot to love here as well.  From what I’ve heard, they are flying off the shelves, but if you do have the chance to pick one up, I highly recommend it.

Note:  Michelle says she isn’t portrayed well here.  I disagree.  She thinks she sounds like a dumb girlfriend who doesn’t know about beer.  But really she is the awesome girlfriend who was willing to drink all these beers with me.  Even the styles she wouldn’t normally touch.

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