I was able to attend Sierra Nevada Beer Camp in Raleigh this past weekend thanks to the bros at Cheers Charlotte. Huge thanks to them for hooking me up with tickets and access to the pre-parties on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go up on Friday night, so my Beer Camp Journey started on Saturday
I drove up on Saturday morning and met my buddy in Durham. From there we drove to nearby Raleigh to the Sierra Nevada pre-party at The Flying Saucer around 1:30. Another big thank you to Melissa Varvaro, the Sierra Nevada Charlotte Area Manager for the accommodations.
The party had the perfect buffet to prepare for a beerfest including Pub Pretzels, Quesadillas, Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, and Chicken Wings. Also, there was an open bar featuring Sierra Nevada beers such as Beer For Drinking and Grisette D’Orge. I believe the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was pacing myself at an open bar before Beer Camp. Tough stuff.
Everyone at the party was kind and happy we were there. To borrow a quote from the friend who made the trip with me, “Everyone is being so nice to us and I don’t know why, but it’s awesome!” We were surrounded by Sierra Nevada employees, reps, managers, and bigwigs. Everyone shook our hands, thanked us for coming, and took time to talk to us. It was like they wanted us there!
I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Brian Grossman for about 15 minutes during the pre-party. Brian co-manages the new Sierra Nevada facility in Mills River and is the son of Owner Ken Grossman. We discussed the dangers of “big beer”, tips for surviving a beer fest and Muppets (Interview on the Draft Line!). Afterwards, he mentioned having a 9-week-old at home and what to expect becoming a new dad. Yes, I received dad tips from Brian Grossman. Don’t worry Brian, I won’t let my kid sleep in our bed. I already messed that up with my Dog! What a nice, candid, down to earth guy.
Speaking of everyone being nice to us, we were handed VIP tickets at the pre-party shortly before the session began and after our 4th plate of food, we took the free shuttle provided by Sierra Nevada over to the Beer Camp venue. I cannot stress enough just how kind everyone was from Sierra Nevada.
At 4pm, the VIP session opened. There were 2 notably long lines at the Rare Beer tent and the Cigar City booth. We went over to Cigar City to see what the fuss was about and it turns out they had Hunahpu’s. I repeat they had Hunahpu’s. At a beerfest. In Raleigh, NC. I believe I had 5 glasses.
Beer Camp was a wide open outdoor festival in front of Duke Energy Center in downtown Raleigh. There were 8 rows of beer tents, local food trucks and a stage. The festival was mainly local NC breweries with some notable east coast breweries such as Cigar City, Hardywood and Sweetwater. All 12 Beer Camp beers were of course available for sampling as well.
In front of the stage was keg bowling. It was a great way to sober up and throw out your left shoulder. Another thing I wanted to point out was the industrial sized water coolers at the end of most of the beer tents. This was key throughout the day to rinse glasses and stay hydrated.
Overall it was a very calm, low key festival with people milling about and appreciating beer. There were familiar faces from Charlotte breweries such as Birdsong and even my best friends the NC Beer Guys were there! They don’t know that we’re best friends, but we are.
Beer Camp Raleigh was one of the most fun and well-organized beer fests I’ve ever attended. Thank you to all involved in making it a great day.
Best beers of the day:
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, Cigar City Brewing
Gingerbread Stout, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Best Day Ever Pineapple Milkshake IPA, Hoppy Trout Brewing
Coole Beans Coffee Brown Ale, Oak & Dagger Public House
Body Electric NE Style IPA, Wise Man Brewing
Guest blog post by Loran Sekely @OffTheTriBoro