When a brewery with street cred like Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. puts together a collaboration of epic proportions, like they did with their new Beer Camp release, you drink it. This one-time collection of mixed up brews is everything that’s good about beer. The third incarnation of the Beer Camp collaboration series takes us international, with recipe cooperation by six “overseas” brewers as well as six “stateside.”
Their out of town compadres include the likes of Fuller’s Brewery (UK), Garage Project (NZ), Kiuchi Brewery (Japan), Duvel Moortgat (Belgium), Mikkeller (Denmark), and Ayinger Brewery (Germany). The local guys are Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, MN), Saint Arnold’s (Houston, TX), Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO), Boneyard Beer (Bend, OR), The Bruery (Placentia, CA), and Tree House Brewing (Monson, MA).
We chose a particularly beautiful Spring day in Texas to pop the top of our first Beer Camp beer. We started with the White IPA made with yuzu; a collab with Kiuchi Brewery who makes Hitachino Nest Beer and are 8th generation sake brewers. They put their traditional Japanese touch on everything they do, and it shows through with the use of the yuzu, an Asian citrus fruit that is likened to grapefruit with and orange juice back. It was brilliant and perfect for that hot day. See our review here.
Our next brew was the West Coast Style DIPA; a partnership with Boneyard. Truth be told, I didn’t know much about these guys, being that I’m in Texas and they don’t make it out of the Pacific Northwest. Turns out their founder Tony Lawrence knows what’s up with IPAs and has the resume to prove it. This 2X IPA a la West Coast vision is all the things that make this style an American standout. Check out what we have to say here.
Third on our journey,the East Meets West IPA from Tree House Brewing. These masters claim 3 of the top 5 highest rated beers on Beer Advocate, so they have legit credentials, at least from a consumer standpoint. Their ability to channel the earnestness of the east coast and the whimsy of the west into one heavenly brew is inspiring. They captured all the best of both with juicy tangerine and orange peel followed by herbal mint and earthiness. Outstanding rendition. See our notes here.
Next up was the Dry-hopped Berliner-Style Weisse from my Texas brethren at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. I was particularly excited about this one for a couple of reasons. 1) Texas represent! and 2) I can’t get enough of that tangy, yogurty goodness. When the style is done right, it can’t be beat. And this version is outstanding; with all the flavors one would expect like lemony yogurt, breadiness, heavenly angel tears and the added complexity from dry-hopping by way of light pine and lemon pith. It’s next level good. Allow me to gush more here.
Onward to the Thai-Style Iced Tea by Mikkeller. This brewery is no stranger to strangeness and this one couldn’t exemplify that more. It’s brewed with black tea, tamarind, star anise, orange peel, and milk sugar to sweeten. Herbal, for sure, with sweet black tea, this beer is not for the faint of heart. What comes across most is the tamarind and licorice followed by a musky spice with light lemon. Check out the details here.
Next on the list is the Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale, an Old Ale brewed by the time-honored brewery Fuller’s, with some American influenced hopping. Being that old ales are, well, old, they tend to have some musky, aged notes and a yeasty presence. This one’s brewed with plums to bring out those yeast-forward flavors. This guy is better with a little age on it, so put it in the back of the fridge and break it out when you’re feeling fancy. Get the tasting notes here.
Coming up on the main stage, a Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Ale brewed with lemon peel. This collaboration is with Duvel Moortgat, you know, the brewery that literally created the style. I’m a big fan, obviously, and I was delighted to find that this rendition brought all the happiness I have grown to know and love. All the bright notes of a traditional Belgian Golden Strong show up; white grape, pear, clove, and effervescence, with the addition of spicy citrus peel. It is beyond delicious. Careful with this one though, it’s a devil of a brew. (See what I did there?) Get the details here.
And then there was a Ginger Lager from Surly Brewing Company. This one threw me for a loop. It’s a lager brewed with fresh ginger and cayenne to accentuate the spiciness of the ginger. And they ferment it on oak and hops. What the what? It’s a complex beer, that’s for sure. Super spicy, pungent ginger dominates every nook and cranny of this beer. Pair it with some savory Asian noodles and you might just be in business. Get all the specifics here.
On to the Dunkle Weisse from Ayinger Brewery. They have been brewing beer for 130 years, so I would expect nothing but the perfect specimen of a dark wheat. Beautiful hazy, dark mahogany in color, with the quintessential flavors of banana nut bread and toasted caramel, this beer brings transcendence to the table. We loved every minute of it. Get to know it here.
Next up, the Dry-hopped Barleywine-Style Ale from Avery Brewing Company. Avery is no stranger to the traditional American Barleywine, what with their Hog Heaven, though it’s now known as an Imperial Red IPA. This classification shines through in this example, with all the hop-forwardness of a high alpha acid hopped super, triple, double, throwback IPA. Honestly, I got very little of the lovely dark fruit character that the style is known for. There were some subtle, albeit pleasant, notes that I enjoyed. I just found it a bit lacking. Listen to me rattle on about it here.
Coming up on the finish line is the Campout Porter from Garage Project out of New Zealand. The idea is a roasted marshmallow by a campfire. This image conjures feelings of warmth and fun and misspent youth; it delivers. This may be one of the heaviest and most intensely roasty porters I’ve had the pleasure of destroying, but it is also one of the best. All of the aspects of a camp out are there: smoke, heat, booze, warmth, and burnt marshmallow magic. I could spend the rest of my days around a fire, recalling the good ole’ days, drinking gallons of this ale. Relive the nights here.
And last, but certainly not least, is the collaboration with my personal brewery crush, The Bruery. Their dedication to all things funky tickles my fancy in the best way. I was so pleased to taste their hallmark of sour and funk in this Raspberry Sundae brewed with cocoa, vanilla, raspberry, and milk sugar to sweeten it up. This has all the dessert elements: chocolate, vanilla bean, berries, milky sweetness, cinnamon. If done incorrectly, it could end up the Donald Trump of dessert beers, unpalatable and repulsive. But that is not its fate. A lovely aroma of funkiness and tart berries leads the way into an adventure in flavor combinations. Needless to say, it was damn good and I want more. Hear about that here.
This Beer Camp collaboration was an adventure in stylistic liberties. From a Ginger Lager, full of spiciness and brutality, to a Dry-hopped Berliner Weisse, that perfectly exemplified the style, all were a spectacular undertaking. If you’re in the mood to travel the world without leaving your backyard, I highly recommend this collection.