Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2016 Review

Well, it's time to look at this year's Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp series, which is when Sierra Nevada Brewing collaborates with different breweries across the country to work on some truly unique beers. For reasons I don't know of, there was no release last year with the exception of the re-release of the hoppy lager from 2014.

When I first reviewed Beer Camp a couple years back, they collaborated with 12 different breweries on twelve different beers. This year, they've collaborated with 30 different breweries. However, there are only 6 different beers this time around, with 5 different breweries plus Sierra Nevada for each one.. Unlike the previous Beer Camp Series, I'll be doing this all in one swoop to give everyone the final verdict as to whether or not to buy this.

Just a fair warning too, this article may be a bit long. If you want to know whether or not to buy this, just scroll down to the very bottom; It'll be in big bold letters.

Name: Family Values
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 35
Collaboration with: August Schell Brewing, Sun King Brewing, Dark Horse Brewing, Half Acre Brewing, & Perennial Artisanal Ales

First up is the Midwest Collaboration, which is an Imperial Brown Ale made with Minnesota Wild Rice, Michigan Hops, Missouri Oats. Indiana Honey & Illinois Cocoa; The states of each brewery doing the collaboration.

Taste - Getting some honey and chocolate malts upfront with some wild rice notes and bitter notes towards the middle. On the back end of the palate is where that honey starts to reemerge along with more of those chocolate malt notes and and aftertaste of light wild rice.

I have to say this is pretty good and the flavor is also quite complex as well, with every ingredient making in appearance in some way in the flavor profile! Strong start so far, let's see how the rest of the beers hold up

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Family Values - 9.5/10

Name: Sweet Sunny South
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 23
Collaboration with: Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche Brewing, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, Funky Buddha Brewery & Wicked Weed Brewing

Described as a Southern Table Beer, this is a Saison that is made with a laundry list of interesting ingredients which include:
  • Corn Grits
  • Black Tea
  • Honeysuckle
  • Peach
  • Papaya
  • Guava
  • Prickly Pear
Taste - Upfront I'm getting some of those guava and prickly pear notes with some mild hop bitterness. Towards the middle, I'm getting tea leaf and bitter sweet mango peach notes while the back end of the palate is pale malts, tropical fruits, cereal grains and some mild Belgian yeasts. The aftertaste is fairly dry, save for some light pear notes.

For a session beer, there's a lot going on here and to me that's impressive. Out of all the session beers I've had in recent memory, this one is definitely one of the better tasting ones and dare I say it's one of the best Saisons I've had in a while.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South - 9/10

Name: Moxee-Moron
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 70
Collaboration with: Bale Breaker, Barley Brown's Beer, Black Raven , Melvin Brewing, & Odell Brewing Company

Next up is the Pacific NW & Rockies collaboration and is actually described as an Imperial Session IPA (hence the name), but for the sake of the article, I'll be calling it an IPA. Nothing really much here, with the exception of 4 different types of hops; One of which is an experimental one, so that should make things interesting.

Taste - Getting some passion fruit and citrus hoppiness upfront, with some pale malt towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting some melon sweetness with some bitter hoppiness to wrap things up.

It's an IPA that isn't unlike anything I haven't seen before but it's still pretty good. I don't know much about the breweries involved with this beer with the exception of Odell but it will definitely please any seasoned craft beer fan.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Moxee-Moron - 8/10

Name: West Latitude
Style: Rye Beer
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 55
Collaboration with: Bear Republic, Faction Brewing, Mad River, Magnolia Brewing, & Maui Brewing

Next up is the Northern California collaboration, though Maui Brewing (based out of Hawaii) somehow infiltrated their ranks but whatever. This next one is a Rye Beer made with Hibiscus. There's really not much else to say so let's try it out shall we?

Taste - Strong rye notes upfront with some roasted barley & light hibiscus. Towards the back, I'm getting some light floral hops with more of that rye spiciness and just a touch of that hibiscus sweetness.

After having this, I can't really say I'm sold on the hibiscus/rye combination though it isn't offensive by any means but I was also expecting more out of the flavor. For me, it's take it or leave it since there isn't anything I like or dislike about this beer.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Latitude - 6/10

Name: Pat-Rye-Ot
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 39
Collaboration with: Devil's Backbone, Dogfish Head, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Stoudts Brewing, Trillium Brewing

Second to last beer is the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Collaboration and for this, we have an American Pale Ale made with rye and apple cider.......D'Okay! Plus this uses experimental hops in the brewing process. As to how many different kinds, I cannot say but let's take a look.

Taste - Rye grains and yeast upfront, with some bitter & floral hops towards the middle. Back end of the palate is where the rye makes a reappearance along with some more of that bitter hoppiness. The aftertaste is fairly mellow save for a light rye flavor and some light apple skin notes

It's solid but when you look at the breweries behind this beer, I can't help but feel that there wasn't any better ideas thrown around in regards to what to make. I mean, there's supposed to be cider in here and yet I'm not really getting it. As I said before, it's solid but nothing memorable.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Pat-Rye-Ot - 7.5/10

Name: Stout of the Union
Style: Stout
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 64
Collaboration with: Bagby Beer Company, Beechwood Brewing, The Lost Abbey, Smog City, Societe Brewing

Finally onto the last beer in the Beer Camp 2016 series and it's time for the Southwest collaboration, or if you want to be more specific, the Southern California collaboration, since that is pretty much what it is. In any case, we have ourselves, ironically enough, a stout. I'll admit, I'm kind of shocked that they didn't get together and decided to make a big West Coast-style IPA.

Taste - Chocolate malts, lactose and light smokiness upfront with some floral hoppiness towards the middle. In the back, I'm getting some dark chocolate and surprisingly strong bitter hops, with the latter lingering in the aftertaste.

It's a solid stout....but I was expecting something more exciting. I mean, look at the breweries involved in making these and you can't help but feel underwhelmed, at least from my point-of-view. Overall, it's good but nothing exciting

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Stout of the Union - 7.5/10
So how does this compare to the previous entry? 

Let's start with the pros first. The good news is that every beer has its own personality and characteristics that set itself apart from each other and you can tell that a couple of the entries had a lot of heart & effort put into it. When you read the story behind some of beers as well as the people who made them, it makes you appreciate them even more and that's something that makes Beer Camp so unique. On top of that, most of the beers I had are those that I would definitely have again.

However, I do have some complaints. Remember when I said that all the beers this year had their own unique personality. Well, all twelve of the Beer Camp Beers from 2014 had their own personality too. Plus while most of the beers are good, I feel that some of them, especially Pat-Rye-Ot & Stout of the Union, didn't have enough effort put into to it. I had high hopes in particular for Stout of the Union because you have highly renowned breweries like The Lost Abbey & Smog City working on them and yet the beer we get is just a stout that isn't unlike anything we've seen before & I can't help but feel that they got lazy. Plus when we only have 6 different beers to choose from as opposed to twelve, it makes me wonder what could've been so that definitely hurt it.

Also consider this, out of the 31 Breweries (Sierra Nevada included), 10 of these breweries are based out of California. I know California is known for their craft beer and such but come on, you can't call it "Across America" when a third of the breweries are from just one state, that makes no sense. There is so much more ground that could've been covered here and yes, even with 31 different breweries, there is plenty of missed opportunity. Look, I know I'm nitpicking here, but this is a $28 twelve-pack and I know the price was $3 less a couple years back. Thankfully I had a gift card and only ended up having to pay $5 for it, but even at $28, I expect a good array of beers to choose from and high quality across the board and I'm honestly not getting that here. 

So is it worth buying? Unless you and a couple of friends decide to split the cost, I wouldn't recommend getting this. There's no denying the beers are good, but compared to the last Beer Camp entry, this is very disappointing and the fact that we're paying more for less of a variety is reason enough to avoid buying this.

Should You Buy This? - No

No comments:

Post a Comment