Sierra Nevada brought their Beer Camp Across America tour to Denver last Friday, and we were fortunate enough to attend. Within an hour we’d already deemed this our favorite beer festival ever for a bunch of reasons, and that wasn’t just the beer talking. There’s a lot that other festivals could learn from Beer Camp Across America. Here are just a few things that made us fall in love with this awesome, traveling Beer Camp:
The Location. Beer Camp was at Civic Center Park, a perfect location to spend a summer evening. Yes, Mother Nature graced us with a quick rain shower, but what do you expect this time of year in Colorado? It’s not an outdoor beer fest unless you get a little wet, and there were plenty of umbrellas and tents to hide beneath if you wanted to take cover. Beside the brief shower led to a lovely rainbow just before sunset, and who doesn’t enjoy a nice rainbow?
The Size. Beer Camp Across America was a big festival with a small fest vibe. With over 100 breweries there was a lot of variety, but by spreading out the tasting tents, food trucks, and tables over a huge section of Civic Center Park, it never felt crazy or crowded. You had space to roam around and enjoy your samples. There were lots of tables placed throughout the park should you want to sit a spell or have a bite to eat. Also, lines were almost non-existent. You could walk right up and sample great beers including the Beer Camp collaboration brews with little to no wait. The only line we came across was for Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder, and even that line was only a few people deep. With everything spread out and not crazy busy, it was one of the most relaxed and enjoyable festivals we’ve ever attended.
The Entertainment. While most beer festivals have a band playing off in some corner of their event, we often treat them as background music for our drinking. We stop and check them out, then continue on our way to have more beer samples. Not this time. The MarchFourth Marching Band was a spectacle that demanded, and received, our attention. It was one of the funnest and craziest thinks we’ve seen in a long time. They were a part high school marching band, part Cirque du Soleil and a whole lot of bootie-shaking fun. We spent the last hour of the festival skipping the beer to watch them, and that says a lot because you know how much we love beer.
The Breweries. With a focus on regional beers, there were lots of local favorites. We stopped by and said hello to our friends at Ska, Strange, Rickoli, Oskar Blues, and so on. That was awesome, but most exciting was getting to sample some of the breweries we don’t get to try very often, along with all of the great Beer Camp collaborations. Our favorite beer of the night, hands down, was Two Hearted Ale by Bell’s Brewery from Kalamazoo, MI. Just to be certain, we sampled it again, and again, and again. Oskar Blues also had a fabulous collaboration on hand that they brewed with Two Brothers Brewing, a pale ale called Foxy Knuckles. We had to try that one for the name, but kept going back because it was a damn fine beer.
The Beer Camp Collaborations. All of the Beer Camp Across America collaboration beers we sampled were interesting and delicious. We sampled most but didn’t take great tasting notes, so we can only clearly remember the two most uniquely delicious beers. First was the Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock, a Sierra Nevada collaboration with Cigar City that featured tropical fruit, giving a Latin/Cuban flair to a normally German styled brew. There was also the collaboration Sierra Nevada brewed with the Asheville Brewers Alliance, Tater Ridge Scottish Ale. This caramelly-sweet ale had a wonderful sweet potato aroma and deliciously strong, sweet flavor. Again, all the collaborations were pretty great, making us wish we’d gotten a 12-pack of these amazing beers before they sold out all over town.
Again, this was the perfect beer festival and we were so thankful to Sierra Nevada for stopping in our town. Fortunately, since Sierra Nevada owner Ken Grossman was pouring at the Sierra Nevada table, we were able to personally thank him for bringing us such a great event. Being the nice guy he is, Ken even offered himself up for a photo-op…
We had such fun, we can only hope that Beer Camp will travel across America again next summer.