Review Date 10/11/2016
Beer Camp is back! That’s right, Sierra Nevada is at it again with another 12-pack sampler of fine collaboration brews. There have been some changes, though, since the last time they did this two years ago. Back in 2014, the 12-Pack had 12 different beers; this time it’s two bottles each of 6. Then too, the first go-round featured for each brew a collaboration with Sierra Nevada and a unique brewer per beer. Now, each beer is a joint effort between Sierra Nevada and several notable brewers.
Then too, I had to spend some time hunting down the first one; this time, the Beer Camp Across America 12-pack found me. I was in Total Wine in early May when I spied them in a large display; several customers were already walking out the door with them. Tonight, I'm trying the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South Table Beer.
Sierra Nevada calls this a table beer, but it really isn't. Table beer is a Belgian concept, a low strength beer served down to as little as 1% alcohol by volume, and perhaps lower. It is meant to be enjoyed with a meal, and by all members of the family, including small children. If that thought seems anathema to you, consider that a child’s morning glass of orange juice probably has about .5% alcohol by volume through natural fermentation.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South Table Beer is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada, Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche Brewing, Creature Comforts Brewing (yay Georgia!), Funky Buddha Brewery, and Wicked Weed brewing. I’m not sure the benefit of a number of breweries versus just two, but there you go.
From the label:
The south holds strong to its traditional flavors—tea, honey-sweet peaches and corn grits—so we looked at those culinary cues for this southern-inspired table beer. With a golden grainy malt body and complex tangy finish from the fruit, tea and herbs, Sweet Sunny South is perfect for sultry summer sipping.
Ingredients from the website:
Bittering hops: Magnum
Finishing Hops: Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon
Malts: Pilsner, acidulated, wheat
Other: Corn grits, black tea, honeysuckle, peach, papaya, guava, prickly pear
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South Table Beer has an alcohol content of 4.9% by volume with 23 IBUs. My bottle was likely packaged in Mills River, North Carolina. It was bottled on April 6th 2016 at 9:49 at night. I took notes on August 4th. Now here’s the kicker: the price. Two years ago, I complained about the $25 price tag for BCAA; this year we’re up to $30 a 12-pack. The fact that in 2014 the pack was a selection of 12 singles helped soften the blow of the high price. Today, that’s not the case, although there is the advantage that if you really like the beers you will have another bottle of each one to enjoy. Still, the price here is just too high.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Sweet Sunny South Table Beer pours to a hazy yellow color with a light creamy head and a nose that suggests tea and fruity hops. Taking a sip, the beer is light on the palate with herbal hints of tea and much more soft fruity notes from the hops and the real fruit. I get very subtle peach and a little papaya, perhaps some flowery honeysuckle and then tea-like herbal tea and hops. A balancing bitterness balances out this very subtle beer, and the corn grits are lost on me here which is a shame.
Overall, I’d give Sweet Sunny South Table Beer 3.5 stars, less a half star for price. Would I buy it again? Probably not. So far, it's the weakest of the sampler, and while I might order it on tap if I came across it, but I certainly wouldn’t pay $30 for another 12-pack. That, of course, is the most likely way I would be able to enjoy it again. I’ll recommend picking up the 12-pack sampler despite the high price, but that would be for a try, and not a re-buy.
Try Jailhouse Alibi Cream Ale for a beer that puts grits and peaches together to much better effect.
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.