When Ken Grossman was welding together Sierra Nevada's first brewhouse out of old dairy equipment and loading a pickup truck full of grain in 1979 it would have been hard for him to imagine that in 34 years he'd be running the second largest American-owned brewery (only Boston Beer Company is bigger). The brand is still expanding, adding a second brewery in Mills River, North Carolina this year. To celebrate Sierra Nevada's success, Grossman planned the biggest craft beer festival in history and called up twelve of the most highly respected brewers in the nation to collaborate on the limited release 12 pack Beer Camp Across America.
Each collaborator worked with Sierra Nevada to brew one beer in the case and the ten bottles and two cans represent a wide range of styles and flavors from Hoppy pilsners to Coffee stouts. Quality is high across the board although we did find that we liked some better than others. Here's our beer-by-beer breakdown.
Electric Ray, and India Pale Lager (Ballast Point Brewing Company)
Southern California Craft beer is synonymous with big, hoppy beers and Ballast Point carried that flag with them in this Sierra collaboration. We've had a few India Pale Lagers in the past and quite honestly, up until now we never quite saw the point. Lagers are all about the subtle malt flavors revealed by super clean yeast. Once you blast away at a lager with IPA level hop charges that subtlety usually goes right out the window. Electric Ray is the exception: It's every bit the lager even as it hits you with big hop flavor and aroma.