Review Date 10/17/2014
A few months ago (I can’t recall exactly when) I first learned of Sierra Nevada’s plans for their 2014 Beer Camp Sampler. This isn’t the first year, of course, that they’ve done a Beer Camp 12-pack, and I look forward to the variety of beers they deliver, each a special formulation by a homebrewer. At least that’s usually the case, anyway. For 2014, Sierra Nevada wanted to do something a little differently.
Hence, Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America. This time around, the sampler would in fact offer 12 unique brews, each a collaboration with a highly regarded brewery. The beers would be brewed at Sierra Nevada’s two facilities: Chico, California, and Mills River, North Carolina. More than an eclectic gathering of special beers, this sampler shines through as a symbol of the collective spirit craft brewers hold, a spirit of respect and admiration for finely crafted beer that transcends the competitive drive.
The 12 beers in the sampler include (from the Sierra Nevada Website):
•Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine -- Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale
•Asheville Brewers Alliance, Asheville, N.C. -- Tater Ridge Scottish Ale
•Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif. -- Electric Ray India Pale Lager
•Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. -- Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale
•Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Fla. -- Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock (CAN)
•Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif. -- Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner
•New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wis. -- There and Back English-Style Bitter
•Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, Ore. -- Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout
•Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo./Brevard, N.C. -- CANfusion Rye Bock (CAN)
•Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Calif. -- Yvan the Great Belgian-Style Blonde
•3 Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind. -- Chico King Pale Ale
•Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. -- Alt Route Altbier
It’s the Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale with Coffee and Lactose Added that I’m drinking tonight, and more on that in a minute. First, though, I had to find the sampler, and I knew that wasn’t going to be an easy task. I e-mailed Sherlocks in Kennesaw about it, but didn’t get a response. Total Wine couldn’t tell me when it was coming in. I only found out when pictures started appearing in Honest Craft Beer Reviews, and then I made it a mission to get a 12-pack. Luckily, Sherlocks had just gotten them in, and I raced there in time to score (along with a bonus 13th bomber of a Beer Camp West Coast Double IPA).
The price was not as welcome a surprise, however: $25 is steep indeed, and $5 more than I paid for last year’s Beer Camp 12-pack. That was overpriced as well in my book. Prices seem to vary across the country according to accounts in Honest Craft Beer Reviews, with prices as low as $17 and as high as $30 being reported. $25 seems to be the median price, and as much as I complain about price it’s important to note you are paying for 12 unique singles here, and that is a mitigating factor. Then too, these aren’t beers to pop in succession over a weekend, but to be savored over a series of nights one by one.
My advice: don’t let the high price keep you from this one.
OK, now to the Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale with Coffee and Lactose Added that I’m drinking tonight. The plan had been to drink the beers in order of strength, smallest to largest. But our own Tom Beer Whisperer Mulvihill teased me awhile back with the notions of sweet potato in beer in a brew that included them. Since Tater Ridge also used that tuber as an ingredient, it was the first to be popped. I'm now drinking them in order of alcohol content, and Double Latte is next on deck by that criteria.
Double Latte is a collaborative effort with Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing Company. I've only had a few beers from this brewery, and they have all impressed. But then when you name your brewery after a beer goddess, you had better do things right. rest assured, they do.
From the label:
Inspired by the perennial café favorite, Double Latte combines two of the greatest things in life: coffee and beer. Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing knows their way around a good cup of joe. Featuring cold-press coffee from the legendary Stumptown Coffee Roasters and a dose of milk sugar, this coffee milk stout is a rich and roasty treat.
Ingredients from the website:
Bittering Hops -Nugget
Finishing Hops -Nugget
Malts -Two-row Pale, Caramel, Brown, Chocolate
Other -Coffee, Lactose
Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale with Coffee and Lactose Added has an alcohol content of 7.6% by volume and 60 IBUs. Mine was bottled on 5/30/14, I assume at the Mills River facility.
Sierra Nevada/Ninkasi Beer Camp Across America Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale with Coffee and Lactose Added pours to a dark black but not opaque color with a very tall thick creamy tan head and a luscious coffee chocolate nose. Taking a sip, I am immediately impressed by the full, creamy body of the beer, replete with hints of caramel, dark roasty chocolate, rich dark roasty espresso, and a smooth as silk body. Thick Brussels lace, minty grassy hop finish.
Folks, we have a winner. This deep, dark and delicious malty treat is the best of the lot I've tasted so far, and with just a few more bottles to go, this is now the one to beat. Sierra Nevada will be doing festivals to celebrate its efforts as well, and you can read more about them here.
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.