Beer Camp 118: The Experience Part 1

When it comes to my time at Beer Camp... I really don't know what to say... or maybe how to say it. I feel that no matter what I put down it will seem like I'm being that guy with the really funny story that no one laughs at. And then I would have to follow it up with, "Well, you had to be there.", which is kind of true in this case.

When I arrived in Chico, the first thing I did... well, I checked into my hotel room. But after that! I sent over to Sierra Nevada and got a seat at the bar. The first beer I grabbed was the Christmas Jam Session Ale, which was a collaboration with someone in Asheville... but that is not what is important... It is just what kicked everything off.

After a few more beers, more members of our group showed up, plus the members of Beer Camp 117 we were told to make or way upstairs for a concert in The Big Room... I honestly don't remember now who was playing, but they had a pretty awesome sound and they were different. Even when they were covering popular songs. Beer Camp had not even officially started yet but things just kept getting more awesome and more awesome. Did I mention that after the show, we headed out to a local bar? We may or may not have kicked every Sierra Nevada keg they had there at the time... and possibly raced around the place on Big Wheels... But not before snagging this photo... and we may or may not have ended the night with a bottle share........... but that is enough about Day Zero.

Well... morning came. Why would they want to get started at 8am? That makes no sense but we all made it! We started the day by watching all of our videos and a little tour... and beer... But hey, I don't care what time it is ever. QA everybody, QA. It was shortly after this, I got to taste Torpedo straight from the fermenter... I wondered if ever again Torpedo would taste this good. We just got a brief taste of the brewery at this time. The tour was, I guess an introduction to the brewery. There was far more to see than what we saw but we had to "get back" to start discussing and determining our recipe.

We had quite a bit going back and forth on the recipe. One of our first ideas, a Saison, was kicked back because of available yeast. We were considering a sour beer... but that got kicked back also, for obvious reasons. We selected a few base styles we wanted to go for but it essentially came down to IPA. Yup. A few of us tried to push for the Wheat Wine angle. We ended up using a bit of wheat in our beer and kicked the ABV up to 8%. We had a huge selection of hops to go with and we discussed what flavors from malt we wanted and even the color, etc etc etc. We even thought it would be cool to age it on Spanish Cedar. Something we were totally able to do, and give this beer it's own flair. 

The brewers, Abraham and his team, came up with the full recipe based on what we discussed. It came out looking like this. I cannot wait to taste it. My party is coming up very soon!

This is just part 1 of this epic experience... this was just the morning, and I can't even do that justice here. I don't know a way to help you experience it other than being there. I will try, though. 


Beer Camp 118: The Journey

Well, this has been a long time coming but with the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Variety Box and the Beer Camp Across America Tour starting up soon, I figured I might as well get this out now. Kind of build up to it and me going to Mills River for the final stop of the tour. So, as annoying as I was... Here is the first part of my 3... or 4... or 5 part mini series on Sierra Nevada Beer Camp! The Journey, The Experience, The Spoils, The Box Set, and then Mills River. I hope you enjoy.

Anyway you look at it, Chico, It's a hell of a town. I mean, I have been there before but this time the experience was like none other. And I really have everyone online to thank for it. I know by the time you are reading this it is either too late or too close but if you can make it out to my party on July 12th in Raleigh... COME OUT!!!! Anyway, you may not know much about Chico other than the fact that is where Sierra Nevada resides. So what is it? Some random college... Yes, but there is more to it. A world of magical mystics and wonder.

Toward the end of last summer, Sierra Nevada reopened their consumer Beer Camp contest. This was the 3rd year that they have ran the Beer Camp contest publicly. It is usually reserved for people within the industry; bars, distributors, sales reps, yada yada, to explain to them the beer making process and what Sierra Nevada is doing that is innovative and above the rest. They design and brew a beer during the Camp while touring the facilities and tasting everything in sight. When I found out about this contest, I had to enter! But you already knew that, right?

The video I put together was called "The Best Beer In The World" which was pretty much a take on Tenacious D's song and video Tribute. After the fact, a buddy pointed out that I probably looked like an asshat because the videos from the rest of the group, and even those who were not fortunate enough to get it, were talking about how great Sierra Nevada's beer is and my video featured me brewing The Best Beer In The World... No help from them... It's a method... It worked in this case. I had a few employees tell me they pulled for my video, so WIN!

The Best Beer In The World from L Allen Huerta on Vimeo.

I submitted my video and then I had about 55 days to spam the internet and ask for as many votes as I could from the world... I am sure you remember that. Especially those of you who blocked or unfollowed, uncircled, unwhatever it is you do. I had a pretty good hold on 4th/5th place until about the last week. I had dropped out of the running and then back up to 9th numerous times. I was freaking out, begging, and pleading to have everyone help me. The worst part of the whole voting process was when they decided to extend the contest another 15 days... especially after I was promising that they only had to vote for me for 3 more days and then I would leave them alone from my constant spam. I was drained at that point. I seriously did not want to go on. But being as close as I was, I was not going to waste this chance.

The contest ended and I had just made the top 10. Such a relief... but then there was nothing to do for about 2 and a half months... and then, I arrived...



Tour de Fat Durham

This past weekend, Hop Man, made an Appearance at New Belgium's Tour de Fat. For those of you who don't know, Tour de Fat is essentially a Beer Carnival showcasing New Belgium, sustainability, and their lifestyle and culture when it comes to fun and bikes.
A celebration of bikes, beer and community in 12 U.S. cities spreading the good word about the radness of the mighty bicycle and a simple, honest way of living.
If you need a recap of why I would be interested in something like this... You have not been paying attention, but here you go. As soon as I got there I started scoping out the park trying to figure out my game plan for the day... Not that I really needed one. It was to only be about excitement and going with the flow and then I ran into this sign.

I guess this set the stage for what I was drinking anyway. I may or may not have been able to score my way into the VIP tent, Thank You Again! So it was cool just being around everyone that was there. I even left with some swag that will be going on many of rides with me.

Tour de Fat kicked off with a fashion show, (actually, it kicked off with a Bicycle Parade that lead to the opening but still...), showcasing the best of the best at the park. I shot a clip of the catwalk as it was shutting down. Take a look here.

Fashion Show.mp4 from L Allen Huerta on Vimeo.

Of course I came dressed for the occasion, not that it should come as a surprise to you. But after the show, IT WAS TIME TO GET BEER!!!

Over the course of the day I tried everything that was available at the Lips of Faith tent. I didn't bother heading over to the other but they had Summer Helles over there. I highly recommend finding that on and trying it. Especially those of you who say you don't like lagers. This is one of the best beers I have had in a while and it even falls into the Light Lager category for those of you who always trash it. Just saying.

There are a few shows, and bands, I wish I would have caught but there were a lot of good people to talk and hangout with. Of course enjoy your company, but if you have the chance to show up to an event make sure you check out as much as possible. They put on a great show. I should have taken photos of the puppeteer. He did some pretty... interesting things that I did not even know were possible. Including a stripping puppet and Homer Simpson on the drums! Pretty epic.

There are a few more stops this year, so if you have the chance to get out to them, I suggest you do!
Washington, District of Columbia Yards Park 5/31/2014
Durham, North Carolina Diamond View Park 6/21/2014
Chicago, Illinois Palmer Square 7/12/2014
Twin Cities, Minnesota Loring Park 7/26/2014
Boise, Idaho Ann Morrison Park 8/16/2014
Fort Collins, Colorado Civic Center Park 8/30/2014
Denver, Colorado City Park 9/6/2014
San Francisco, California Golden Gate Park 9/13/2014
San Diego, California Golden Hill Park 9/27/2014
Tempe, Arizona Tempe Town Lake 10/4/2014
Now, I could not let you go without showing you what I wore, so you better show me up at the event that you go to!



BJCP Tasting Exam

After such a long wait, the time has finally come and passed. It has been about a month and a half now and I still have a lot to cover when it comes to learning the history of the styles, etc. but the BJCP Tasting Exam is finally OVER!!! I was stressing a lot about it the first few days to a week or so after the exam but now I am just over it and want my results. Before I wanted an 80 or better, now I just hope I got a 60 so I don't have to test with the updated guidelines... JK!!! I still hope I did great but this waiting period is killing me and seriously all I want is a pass at this point.

The main advice I have for anyone taking this is exam is to make sure you learn the styles. I know that may sound kind of obvious, but maybe I should phrase it this way. Make sure you know the differences between the styles. You are there to judge each beer presented to you based on what you sense. Not what the guideline says. Write down everything you notice and then afterward, consider what you tasted. The proctor told you this was a Sweet Stout. Was it really? or was it an under-carbonated Oatmeal Stout? There are differences but if you can't pull out what they are, you are stuck taking their word for gold.

Overall I think I feel pretty good about it but we will see when the results come back. One more thing when it comes to taking the test. Or even when it comes to life: NEVER SECOND GUESS YOURSELF!

I showed up on test day not knowing what to expect. I signed in, sat down, filled out preliminary paperwork and just waited... I don't know why I showed up so early. About an hour but I stayed in my car. I got in the testing room about 30 minutes before the start of the exam... Just waiting... I guess it is better than being late.

I was relieved when the first beer showed up. I feel it set the pace for the whole exam. The category was 1A: Lite American Lager. A pretty good one, too. At least I thought it was. Drinking it was honestly just like reading the guidelines. The only thing I knocked that one for was the fact that it was hazy. This is not a style I ever really drink but I would drink several of them no questions asked. People just get so stuck on the BMC is bad kick, that they cannot relate to a good beer in those styles. Just about every beer has its time and place. Lite American Lager included.

I thought I got pretty lucky with the choice of beers. The remaining styles went as follows; 5B: Traditional Bock, 10A: American Pale Ale, 13B: Sweet Stout, 19A: Old Ale, and 18C: Tripel. Each of those beers had their own strengths and weaknesses and there was only one I found nearly undrinkable. I felt everything was good until the very end of the exam where I finished up Beer Number 6 and had about 10 minutes remaining... That second guessing yourself thing comes into play here.

The Tripel that I thought was pretty awesome, started to taste funky... like really odd. Like odd enough for me to lower my score from a 34 to a 29! I should have left it because it seems I was right in line with everyone that I talked to after the exam before I went back. I guess one beer won't really hurt me when it comes to grading but I was hoping to have all 6 be good. Just to hopefully score fairly well. And who knows what else I may have slipped up on. I thought the Old Ale might have been infected and then I go back to taste it after the exam and it was not as "bad" as I thought it was.

I did not adjust that score because I had given it a 19. It was a bad example of an Old Ale, regardless. Other examinees I talked to scored it right in line with me or in the low 20's, so I am not too worried about that... unless it was not infected and I get knocked for that. But it is still only 2 beers out of 6... I feel I nailed the other exam beers and I was not too far off here, even with my changes or perceptions.

I will send out an update as I get my results back, but don't expect to see that for another two or three months... or so I hear. Twitter or Google Plus will probably have the first look at that, but that is like breaking news. Until then,



1001 Beers: The Final Catch Up...

Ok, so this 1001 Beers post is not going to follow my normal format.... honestly, it will be almost formatless... I know I said this before... but... I plan to keep up from now on............ Ok, now that this is out of the way, lets check out what I have had.

Any questions, please ask. #SuperLazyStatus #IllFixIt

xxx Beers Left To Go!