Sierra Nevada unveils plans for beer camp this September | Style | -- Your State. Your News.

May 23rd
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Sierra Nevada unveils plans for beer camp this September

sierranevada_opt_copyBY JOHN HOLL

Since its founding 30 years ago, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has become one of the great success stories of the American craft beer revolution. Its pale ale is ubiquitous behind bars around the country and its special releases like the annual Celebration Ale cause heart swells from beer aficionados when they first spot it on the shelves each winter.

Now, Sierra Nevada is giving fans a chance to not only experience life at their Chico, CA., brewery, but a chance to make their own beer and get a one of a kind experience at Beer Camp.

Earlier Monday morning Sierra Nevada went live with the website and a contest where 20 lucky beer lovers will come to the brewery in September for "an all-inclusive, hands-on, high-octane beer education bonanza!"

In short, the way its been described by brewery officials, Beer Camp is nothing short of a Willy Wonka experience.

Winners will spend two days as an honorary brew master complete with:

  • VIP tours and tastings.
  • Use of a 12-seater Bar Bike where winners will cruise the brewery with stops at the bottling line, and hop yard.
  • A meeting with "mad beer scientists" at the Quality Assurance and packaging laboratories to learn the science behind beer storage and chemistry.
  • A visit to the Taproom and Restaurant for lunch and a tapping of a cask.

Sierra Nevada has been running its Beer Camp for years, but it's usually been for beverage industry personnel and wholesalers. As it widens the camper base, Sierra Nevada is appealing to consumer's whimsical side.

"We're asking people to send us some sort of creative entry ... movie, music video ... interpretive dance ... whatever to win the chance to come out to the brewery for two days," said Bill Manley, a spokesman for the brewery. "It should be bedlam."

Manley said the biggest questions campers ask is "What beer do we get to make?"

In a little process the brewery calls  "the great debate" campers "gather in a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle, battle of wits do determine what beer will be rolling off-the line" by the end of the camp. No style is out of the question. Anything from a Triple IPA to a Midnight-black Imperial Stout can be accomplished. Brewery personnel will then walk campers through the process from grain to glass. Campers then get to decide on a name.

There is even a chance that the beer can be served at a bar close to winner's homes.

The official rules for the contest may be found on the website. Entries are due by July 9, 2010 and participants must be at least 21 to participate.

John Holl writes about craft beer and the culture of drinking. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, he has worked for the Star-Ledger of Newark, the Indianapolis Star and regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and websites. Holl is co-author of a soon-to-be published book on Indiana breweries. He may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or


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