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.
Yvan the Great, a Blonde Ale (Russian River Brewing Company)
We're big fans of hoppy farmhouse ales and Sierra Nevada's collaboration with Russian River in Yvan the Great does not disappoint. The beer is named after Yvan De Baets, a historian of farmhouse ales and the head brewer at Brasserie De La Senne. The beer is golden with a slight haze and it tastes like a lemon lollipop without the sugar. It's bitter, lightly tart, bone dry and screamingly complex with notes of coriander, pepper, clove, and grapefruit. We loved most of the beers in this 12-pack, but Yvan the Great is the one that stayed with us.