Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I arrived at my destination: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Part II

Guest post by Aaron Beaulieu

Once you’re proclaimed a winner by Sierra Nevada they send you a Golden Ticket in the mail, similar to that of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After you arrive in Chico, CA you spend the first night with your group members socializing and drinking late into the early morning. Early next morning you get an all access VIP tour of the amazing Sierra Nevada Brewery. Your VIP tour includes inspection of Sierra Nevada’s bottling/canning line, pedaling across the Sierra Nevada property on a beer bike, examining the science behind Sierra Nevada’s quality consistent beers, tasting beers that have yet to be released or are only available in Chico, CA, and freezing your butt off in a huge freezer full of hops that literally reach the ceiling. These are just some of the perks you’ll enjoy while at Beer Camp. You and your group will also build out your recipe for the beer you’ll brew the next morning.

Sierra Nevada Beer Bike
Since you’re at Beer Camp, the beer flows like water! If Sierra Nevada brewed it, you get to drink it, on the house for free. Your meals are also complimentary as are the Narwhal floats! Once your group has a beer recipe made up and you’ve toured the amazing facility, you and your group get to brew your beer on Sierra Nevada’s pilot brewing system. We milled our grains, added our hops and named our beer; their advanced brewing system the rest. We named our Hoppy Honey Rye Ale, Rye-Way 117. Highway 117 just happens to run through North Carolina, the site of Sierra Nevada’s new brewery, and since we were beer camp group #117 the name just made sense. We used rye and English malts for our grain bill, Chinook and Centennial hops, and 120 pounds of local honey for an added touch of aroma and balance. Look for the release of this beer in the spring of 2014.

Once your beer is ready for distribution, you get to choose a location to tap your beer at to share with your friends and family. Not only do you get to have a public tapping for your beer, but Sierra Nevada will also allow you to buy a 5-gallon keg from them, for which they will ship to you. Being VIP guests, we were also allowed to pack Ziploc bags full of whole coned hops to take home and shop in their gift shop with our employee discounts. These were just a few of the added party favors to remember our Beer Camp experience better. Beer Camp was an amazing once in a lifetime experience. You’ll meet some awesome new brewing and drinking buddies, have some new material to add to your resume, and will always be able to say to your friends and family, “I went to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp and it was awesome!”

However, before you can do any of this, you need to enter the contest first!