Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #58 ‘Raiders Of The Lost Hops’

February 28, 2012

In a cross between Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket contest and a school-yard game of pick up, Sierra Nevada Brewing hosts a beer camp a couple of times a year and a very lucky few get chosen to participate.  With hundreds of avid home brewers submitting and less than 40 selected nation-wide, the fact that two friends from right here in Pensacola got to go is pretty remarkable.

The way it works is fans of Sierra Nevada send a video expressing their innate love of the brewery’s product; the more creative the better.  There are two stipulations, however: teams are allowed to enter but only one name from each team would go if picked and no recycling of content.  Ergo, if a few friends all submitted the same video in hopes of going, it wouldn’t work.

Check out the video submissions on the Beer Camp website and one may notice that the videos from Tim Moore and Tim Roberts – both locals – look suspiciously similar, at least for the first minute.  Smartly, they split the project into two “movie trailers,” one about a man turned into a zombie by being forced to drink watery macro-produced swill and one about a man’s quest to rid the world of such creatures.

Once arriving in Chico, California, the collected participants were given tours of the facilities, access to the rarities in the cellar, classes attended on the science of brewing, history lessons given about the brewery and carte blanche in Sierra’s grain and hop yards.  It was in the hop vineyard where the inspiration for the latest beer camp’s project struck.  It was nearing the end of the harvest and almost all the hops were gone.  After group collaboration they collectively decided to call it Raiders of the Last Hops.

What little information I could unearth about the beer yielded one interesting tidbit.  Apparently, the estate-grown Chinook hops were tempered over lemon tree wood.  Couldn’t even tell you if the extra step truly affected the end product but it’s those little bonus efforts and custom tweaks on style that almost always result in a stand-out beverage.

Raiders Of The Lost Hops is a bold American red ale that’s actually dark orange-brown in color.  A frighteningly-large head of thick frothy foam hangs out for over 10 minutes only to recede leaving lacing like painted coral reef down the sides of the glass.  From here on out, this ale’s all about harmonious balance.  Bready caramel malt and toffee scents see-saw with pine and citrus.  Silky and nutty at first, a sweet dose of butterscotch gives way to some zesty orange peel and floral hop.  Not too sweet, not too bitter, just right.

Congratulations to the two Tims.  This is a great beverage.  Interested in going to the next camp?  Check out sierrabeercamp.com for details.