Ah, to be young…again
By Glenn DeLuca
So my friend Vince calls and tells me we have a ride to CAMP! Wow the best
news of the summer…I can go to camp. I spring into action to get ready; put a
handkerchief in my pocket, new batteries in my flashlight, pack a book and some
band aids, and a Sharpie to write my name in my underwear. I’m ready, except
for one last item, the permission slip, which I guess means I better ask the wife
what the social calendar looks like and would she mind if I’m gone for the day.
YES it’s a go, so I buy my ticket online and print it out.
I probably should mention this is an adult camp, not that we can’t or won’t have
fun; this is Sierra Nevada Beer Camp! Collaboration seems to be the trend now
and Sierra Nevada appears to want to be the king. They collaborated with 12
other brewers and released, what else, a 12 pack of the beers. Luckily I had
earlier gone to the Cloverleaf Tavern, my favorite local watering hole, for a
tasting of those very same 12 beers. I tried them all of course, and most were
very nice; the only one I didn't care for was the Double Latte. Why? I prefer my
coffee in the morning.
Warning: There is a very limited supply of these 12 packs if you live in Northern
NJ. If you didn’t get one by the time you're reading this, the odds you’ll find one
are slim and none, with the none most likely.
Sierra Nevada took it one step further and setup a seven city traveling beer fest
starting at their home in Chico, CA and ending in Mill River, NC, where they are
soon to open their new brewery. Lucky for us festival #6 is in Philly. This
festival's brewery list featured a ton of beer from PA, MD, DC, and others mostly
west and south of my New Jersey home. Most I've never even heard of but each
is a potential new taste delight. So, my drinking plan at the festival was most
logical, since I’ve already had the collaboration beers I would focus on these new
breweries. Heaven, here I come!
So the day arrives. I meet friend and fellow beer lover John at the Tap Room bar,
a perfect meeting place since it's, well, a bar. Our driver, another beer loving pal,
Livingston, motors up in his 1993 Plymouth Voyager with 140,000 miles and
almost new (three re-treds ago) whitewall tires. In the front of the van sits Vince
and more importantly Livingston’s wife, who will drive us home. A saintly woman
Mapquest directions are good and we’re expecting to see signs as we get near
directing us to parking. We see the entrance but no signs. Well, it is
Philadelphia. Anyway, we hang a right, drive a couple of blocks and find street
parking; we just saved a few bucks!
It was a warm, not too hot, humid day but beer awaited so who cares? The
festival had lots of space and was well organized, We didn't stand on any line
that was as long as we expected which meant we tasted many, many, many
excellent beers and got to chat with fellow beer aficionados. Food was not
included but they had some food trucks. They however were inundated with
people. Yes, the lines were longer for food than beer. It's the world turned
Note to Sierra Nevada - I do have a few minor criticisms of the event. First, why
do you make everyone stand outside and only begin to check ID’s when the
festival starts? Luckily we were not too far from the entrance but if you were far
back in line, they’ve robbed you of some of your tasting time. That's a felony in
Solution: start to let attendees in with the proviso there’s no serving till the legal
starting time. Or, maybe let them into a holding area; anything to get movement
along the lines.
Now for a couple of other issues, small but bothersome. There were two big
tents with all the non-collaboration breweries squeezed together. The brewery
signs were one above the other with the servers standing in front of the lower
one. It took a few minutes to figure out what was going on and in the process I
got some unwelcomed neck exercise by looking carefully to see what brewery
was at each station.
Then there's the tasting goblet. It's very nice indeed, but its shape wasn't
convenient to juggle when trying to write notes and eat, and, of course, drink.
I brought my Velcro festival tasting glass holder that worked like a charm at the
famed TAP NY beer fest but it couldn’t securely get around the Sierra goblet.
And lastly, the brochure was nice especially with a page for notes. But it had a
dark orange background color and small blue lettering, I needed a magnifying
glass with another magnifying glass to read it. True my eyesight isn’t as good as
it used to be, but no reason to make it difficult to read; a better color contrast
would be much appreciated. It did not however hinder my drinking. Hey, I'm a
Eventually the 5 hour festival ended and it was back into the Voyager for our
chauffeured (told you she was a saint) ride home. The 90 minute ride back had
the advantage of some needed rest time before I got into my vehicle and headed
All in all a great day, good friends, great new beers and another camp
adventure…I hope I can go to camp again next summer…
Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing email@example.com.
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Outtakes from a life of beer.
|Big G's Beer Beat
by Glenn DeLuca
|BeerNexus is proud to
welcome beer writer
Glenn "Big G" DeLuca
as a contributor to the
site. A widely traveled
beer hunter, Glenn is a
leading advocate for the
growth of craft beer.