Despite being one of the oldest craft breweries in existence (its first batch of Pale Ale was brewed in November 1980), no one can accuse Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of stagnation. For the past several years, the craft giant (a macro-micro?) has released packaged beer samplers inspired by Beer Camp, a regular series of industry-only mixers and collaboration sessions held at its Chico, Calif., facility. For 2014, though, Beer Camp has gone national on a grand scale, with a seven-city summer tour and a new sampler pack that crams the vast length and breadth of America's beer scene into a single case. Pretty cool.
Beer Camp Across America (available at most local beer shops and grocery stores for around $26 a box) offers twelve different beers, each brewed by Sierra Nevada in collaboration with other well-known craft brewers, from faraway regional giants like Bell's (Mich.) and Allagash (Maine) to names more familiar to locals, like Ninkasi, Oskar Blues and Firestone Walker. The styles run the gamut from pilsner and IPA, all the way up to stout and sweet potato-infused Scottish ale, ensuring that there's something for all walks of beer fan tucked inside.
The packaged box has been available for a while in Central Oregon, but now the individual beers are starting to show up on tap walls. Go to Platypus Pub this Friday or Saturday to try all twelve beers on draft—and if you do, try these highlights first:
Maillard's Odyssey (Bell's): A deeply complex imperial dark ale, brimming with roasty malts and a subtle mix of chocolate/caramel flavor.
Double Latte (Ninkasi): The Eugene-based brewery came up with a coffee milk stout that balances out espresso and cocoa flavors for a smooth, deep experience.
There and Back (New Glarus): The bottle calls it an English bitter, but the nose and flavor is all IPA, a sweet one with citrus brimming over the Willamette hops in the finish.