In 2008, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. launched Beer Camp and invited brewers and bar owners to its brewery in Chico for a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration experience. The result was an exceptional Imperial Pilsner, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2014, Beer Camp took to the road—finally!—with a travelling tour of beer festivals and a half-case variety pack with collaborations from all over the country. In 2016, Boston is the regional host for the festival, and come June 18, there will be 150+ beers from California to Delaware rolling into City Hall Plaza to celebrate yet another hoppy campfire. Yeah beer!
I’m not a fan of variety packs in general but I was intrigued by the idea of tying in regional collaboration beers as part of the festivals, so I grabbed the last 12 pack at my local beer shop and was told, “That’s it. They only gave me four of those.” I became a little more intrigued after that, and I’m glad I did. All of these beers are fantastic. If you can still find a Beer Camp Variety Pack, pick it up and make special note of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic collaboration Pat-Rye-Ot Revolutionary Pale Ale. My thoughts on all of them below.
STOUT OF THE UNION Robust Stout, 7.3% abv; Collaborators: Bagby Beer Co., Beachwood Brewing, Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey, Smog City Brewing Co.
- A malty, sweet, drinkable flavor. It tastes clean and far less than the stated abv, which makes this super smooth and creamy stout a nice pour. This should be year-round.
WEST LATITUDE Session Rye, 5.5% abv; Collaborators: Bear Republic Brewing Co., Faction Brewing Co., Mad River Brewing Co., Magnolia Brewing Co., Maui Brewing Co.
- 4.5% is my cap for a session beer, but this is very easy to drink and not a big beer. The hibiscus is tucked into the fruity tang but barely noticeable. Good, not great.
MOXEE-MORON Imperial Session IPA, 7.5% abv; Collaborators: Bale Breaker Brewing Co., Barley Brown’s Beer, Black Raven Brewing Co., Melvin Brewing, Odell Brewing Co.
- This is a very interesting beer. It’s not the hop bomb they allude to and the ironic twist in the name is weird. But it’s a hoppy, not session beer, imperial that works. Love it.
FAMILY VALUES Imperial Brown Ale, 8.5% abv; Collaborators: August Schell Brewing Co., Dark Horse Brewing Co., Half Acre Beer Co., Perennial Artisan Ales, Sin King Brewing
- Minnesota rice, Indiana honey, Missouri oats, Michigan hops, and cocoa nibs from Illinois? I’m not a brown ale guy, but this was a fantastic beer. Sweet, malty, big.
SWEET SUNNY SOUTH Table Beer, 4.9% abv; Collaborators: Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche Brewing, Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Funky Buddha Brewery, Wicked Weed Brewing
- Oh so good. I love the sweet tea hints in this. Table beers are underappreciated—light and easy to drink, they become forgotten. Not here. Hands down my favorite of the bunch.
PAT-RYE-OT Revolutionary Pale Ale, 5.6% abv; Collaborators: Devils Backbone Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Craft Brewing, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Stoudts Brewing Co., Trillium Brewing Co.
- This is “our” regional collaboration, and there’s a lot going on. Milky, wheaty body and finish make it a nice ale. A super tasty beer that would be perfect for a summer clambake. Need more please!
BEER CAMP ACROSS AMERICA. 6.18. CITY HALL PLAZA, BOSTON. 1PM/21+/$50. BEERCAMP.SIERRANEVADA.COM