Fred Crudder, the beverage director for Taco Mac, attended Beer Camp No. 3 in 2008. Dave Blanchard, one of the owners of Brick Store Pub in Decatur, was at Beer Camp No. 8 in 2009. The number of campers has steadily grown since.
“The first year, the plan was do one every other month,” Grossman said. “Now, it’s turned out to be almost every other week. That you are at Camp 66, means it’s been a great success story.”
The research and development team of pilot head brewer Scott Jennings and pilot brewer Mark Hurd guided our beer-making journey over a long day in and out of the brewhouse. We came up with a hybrid American/Belgian imperial red ale made with Patagonia caramel malt and a variety of hops, and fermented with a special Belgian yeast strain.
Although Beer Camp has obvious PR benefits for Sierra Nevada, Jennings noted other less conspicuous benefits, too.
“It’s turned out to be great research and development for us,” Jennings said. “We’ve gotten a lot of really good experience after brewing 66 different Beer Camp beers.”
Besides that, Grossman said Beer Camp has helped bring a more innovative spin to a company that’s best known for its top-selling Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
“When Sierra Pale Ale came out 31 years ago, it was cutting edge,” Grossman said. “There was no beer like it commercially. But the market has changed over the years.
“Beer Camp has given us the opportunity to make beers here that we never would have made before. We’d never made fruit beers or some of the other unique styles before this. Now we’ve had beers come out of Beer Camp that we’ve released commercially. Hoptimum Imperial IPA is one example, and we’re going to release that again.”
While we were all happy with the pretty red color and big hoppy presence of our Beer Camp 66 brew, there’s no telling exactly how it will come out. If all goes according to plan, though, there should be some to sample on draft here in Atlanta in another month or so.
I’ll let you know when and where, as soon as I find out.