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...