Thursday, September 26, 2013

THIRSTY THURSDAY: This is My Kind of Camp

I'm not sure about you, dear reader, but when I was a kid I did not go to camp.

Not that I'm bitching. My summers were spent about as carefree as one can hope for in suburban New Jersey circa mid-1970s... bike to the pool for swim practice, bike home for lunch, bike back to the pool to play tennis, bike home to deliver newspapers and have dinner, hang out (or bike back to the pool), watch 'Night Gallery', sleep. Get up and repeat every weekday from mid-June till Labor Day.

So, really, there was absolutely no need for camp. But when I see my daughter come home from summer camp or craft camp or creative camp simply bubbling with stories, her arms full of her creations, well, there's a little part of me that wishes I'd done something like that as a kid.

But it's all made better when I walk to The Beer Fridge (a new addition to THG's garage) and pull out a bottle from Sierra Nevada's 2013 Beer Camp. Yes, while everybody else has been all ate up about the Oktoberfest brews and those unavoidable, out-far-too-early pumpkin beers I have been doing my best to work my way through a variety of, well, variety packs.

My favorites this season have definitely been the selections from Troegs and the aforementioned Sierra Nevada. Both avoid the temptation to unload some horrific fruit beer on the masses a la Sam Adams and I've actually ended up trying – and enjoying – beers I would have never plucked off the shelf otherwise.

For instance, Troegs Dream Weaver is a yeasty wheat brew that even comes with pouring instructions on the bottle. And I'm glad I followed them as the resulting glass of hazy brew has a fruity (dare I say "banana-esque") and nutty quality that really refreshed after a day at the beach.

If I had one complaint about the Troegs pack it would be that there's probably one variety too many. With only 12 slots in the box there's only two acceptable options: three bottles of four varieties or four bottles of three varieties. (I simply refuse any box that goes for the two bottles of six varieties or does some kind of random count.)

Me? I'm a four bottle man. Sure, three is probably plenty for me to enjoy but I'll be damned if sometimes I just don't want that fourth bottle.

Sierra Nevada definitely gets it right with their 2013 Beer Camp, though I've seen rumblings in forums that drinkers just didn't enjoy the offerings as much as in the past. For me this was my first Beer Camp and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked each style.

The standard IPA is a hoppy but very sessionable brew (no surprise there) while the Imperial Red Ale features a nice, ruby red body with a little bit of caramel and a little bit of citrus but not too much of either.

For me, though, the Black IPA is the true winner of the bunch, a complex but balanced beer that packs a wallop. (Both it an the Red Ale feature ABV of 7.0%+.) You'll want more than four but trust me... you probably don't need it.

And just this morning I saw that Stone Brewing Co. is also getting into the Mixed 12 Pack featuring Arrogant Bastard and Runination...? Yep, seems that drinking and proofing (or designing) is a lethal blend and the brewer found themselves with 50,000 boxes with a glaring typo.

But, hey, why trash 'em when you can have a few laughs at your own expense?

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