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.
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.