Review Date 4/17/2012
Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve gone to beer camp. I went to Oldenberg’s Beer Camp in Fort Mitchell, KY many moons ago. And while that brewery (sadly) is now defunct, others have taken up the banner of beer camp. One of them is Sierra Nevada Brewing of Chico, California. This Beer Camp is a little different, however, so it’s probably best to explain why.
Oldenberg’s camp was all about drinking beer, experiencing beer, learning about beer, and enjoying beer. Sierra Nevada’s camp has all that going for it too, but with one important difference: you get to make beer, too. It’s also a bit tougher to get into. To attend Oldenberg Beer Camp, one plunked down one’s hard earned cash and got to Fort Mitchell (just outside Cincinnati). Money won’t buy your way into Sierra Nevada’s camp. Instead, you have to go the Beer Camp Website and make a case as to why you should be selected as a Beer Camper.
Even if you don’t get to go, though, you can still enjoy the fruits of Beer Campers’ labors in the Sierra Nevada Best of Beer Camp 12-pack sampler. The sampler offers 3 bottles each of four different past beer camp favorites. Under consideration tonight: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #16:Juniper Black Ale.
Sierra Nevada Best of Beer Camp Brew 16, Juniper Black Ale has an alcohol content of 8.2% ABV, 61 IBUs and is brewed with German Magnum & Slovenian Aurora hops, Juniper Berries, and Caramel, Munich, pilsner, pale 2 row, chocolate, carafa III, smoke malts according to the brewers Beer Camp website.
Sierra Nevada Juniper Black Ale, Beer Camp brew 16, pours to a jet black color with a very thick creamy tan head formation and a spicy piney berry nose.
Taking a sip, I get some decidedly sharp but very tasty roasted malt flavors upfront. The beer is very similar to a Schwarzbier in dark malt profile, with a harsh husky roasted bitterness, even if this beer is an ale and that style is a lager. The body is extremely smooth and drinkable here, thinner than a porter or stout but still with a respectable presence. The hops show up quickly in all their piney, resiny glory, and the juniper berries chime in as well towards the finish. They impart a bit more pininess and a decided gin-like quality that I find most enjoyable; the hops and juniper character work very well together.
My favorite of the four beers in the sampler for sure, and that is saying something indeed.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.