2016 Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America L.A. – Recap W/ Pics
As a kid, I went to a weeklong science camp with my entire sixth grade class, along with other kids from other schools. I had a decent time, met some cool kids, did some hiking and learned nothing about science. Hell, I’d go as far as saying I had some fun. But whatever dwindling feeling of hope and happiness I might’ve felt on that trip was proven mute at best by the incredible Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Festival in Long Beach, CA.
After maneuvering through the parking lot, I started to make my way to the field of tents, each ready and willing to serve their individual liquid of expression and I was ready and willing to oblige them. I passed by the beautiful Queen Mary, immediately reminiscing of that sweet bar on the observation deck, where I drank fine whiskey while a seagull plucked at the food of unsuspecting visitors. There is no whiskey to be had, but there is the promise of something even better, bad ass beer.
As soon as I made my way through check-in, armed with my camera and a heavy thirst I started to explore the smorgasbord of craft beer on display. I started with Mad River Brewing out of Blue Lake, Ca, trying their signature IPA. It’s 7% ABV IPA hopped with Chinook, Amarillo and Cascade making it a very aromatic, comfortably bitter beer perfect for a warm day such as this. I decided to visit a familiar face in the form of Brian Herbertson from Wick’s Brewing out of Riverside, CA. “The Paladin has been winning some stuff lately,” Was all he needed to say to get me to try this juicy APA clocking in at 5.6% ABV. I asked Brian how he felt about being a part of this event, “This is good for us because a lot of these LA County breweries are new faces to us, so it’s important to get our product out in front of a variety of people. We’re on our third year so we’re leaking our beer more and more at these events until we build a stronger presence.”
At this point, I felt I needed to escape the harsh sun of the West coast and try for something a little further east, Odell Brewing out of Colorado to be more precise. As I sipped on their 7% IPA, I asked co-owner Eric Smith about a specific brew that kicked everything off, “Our IPA really put us on the map, it won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival of 2007 then got the gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the American IPA category. We’re not out of California so we bring our beer out here for people who know their hops.” I decided to try their Barrel-Aged lambic kriek with raspberries, Friek which is another one of their staples that took home the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011 for the Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category. Very sweet, tart and dry, just the way I like it.
I stumbled my way into the welcoming booth of Smog City brewing from Torrance, CA fronted by owner Laurie Porter. They had two fantastic beers to choose from, their award-winning Hoppy Amber Ale known as the vicious Sabre-Toothed Squirrel and the buzzworthy Cuddlebug, a fruity sour with hints of peach, apricot and passion fruit. “The Cuddlebug has been growing in popularity across the country with people trading it, so we wanted to bring something fun and also reflected the weather. Then there’s the Sabre-Toothed Squirrel which won at the World Beer cup in the American Amber category. We wanted to showcase what we’ve been doing.” Another way to showcase their talent is being one of the participants in a collaboration with Sierra Nevada. “We were chosen. My husband, our brewer, John Porter, likes to say it was the most redundant question he’s ever been asked. Do you want to be a part of this collaboration? He calls me up and goes, I know I haven’t discussed it with you, but I said yes because I knew you wouldn’t say no.”
As the sun began to make its descent for the night and the beer began to kick, it was time to call it a day. Cheers to the entire team of Sierra Nevada for another great festival celebrating the art of Craft Beer.