Do you occasionally catch yourself reminiscing about those easy summer days when school was out and every day was whatever you wanted it to be — be it baseball, biking or swimming?
For some lucky kids, summer vacation meant summer camp, and all of the activities that come with it.
While it may be impossible to bottle such good times, some of the best breweries out there give it their best shot — which is fortunate for grownups. While I’m not suggesting any particular beer will take you back to that special place from childhood, there is a consolation prize that combines time off for good behavior, a hidden camping spot tucked away somewhere, and bit of luck ... that is, luck enough to score a box of Sierra Neavada’s 2017 “Beer Camp.”
Beer drinkers of all stripes are undoubtedly familiar with the groundbreaking craft brews of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., the beer legend of Ken Grossman — who in 1980 essentially built his first brewery from recycled dairy equipment in an old garage — and the Pale Ale that helped reignite craft beer in the U.S. But one of Sierra’s most exciting (and under-the-radar) releases of the past few years has been a collaborative 12-pack known as “Beer Camp.” In this package Sierra Nevada brewers team up with a different brewery for every single beer in the box.
This year the series is titled “Beer Camp: Across the World,” featuring nine bottles and three cans. The package not only showcases the innovative nature of the brewery, but also highlights the mutual brewing respect of Sierra and other historic breweries around the globe. Some breweries on this all-star roster include Duvel Moortgat of Belgium, Fuller’s Brewery of England, Ayinger Brewery of Germany, and Kiuchi Brewery of Japan. There are even some highly acclaimed American breweries like The Bruery, Avery and Surly to round out a truly exciting twelver.
And, if the brewery lineup wasn’t intriguing enough, surely the names will have your palate in a state of anticipation. “East Meets West IPA,” “Campout Porter,” “Atlantic-style Vintage Ale”, and yes, “Thai-style Iced Tea” brewed with tamarind, orange peel, black tea and star anise in collaboration with Mikkeller.
I’ve only worked through half of the pack with a little help, but cannot wait to finish the rest. For those of us too old for summer camp, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better (half) case for exploration this August. And it will taste even better enjoyed with some like-minded friends around the crackle of a campfire.
This week’s recommendation: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s “Beer Camp White IPA,” brewed with coriander, nutmeg, and yuzu fruit in collaboration with Kiuchi Brewery. 7% ABV. Chico, CA.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and the Hop and Goblet in South Utica, New York.