Charlie goes to Beer Camp

Charlie Smith (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Smith)

I got together for a chat with Charlie Smith of Veazie, Maine recently down at Nocturnem Draft Haus. Charlie is one of the twenty lucky winners of a trip to Chico, California to attend the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. Beer camp consists of two days at the Sierra Nevada Brewery where they received a tour of the production area, bottling lines, hopyard, farm and brewpub. The winners also get to decide as a group what beer they want to brew and then assist in the brewing process on Sierra Nevada’s 20 Barrel pilot system. The group then names the beer they brewed and the finished product get sent to a bar of their choice so each person gets a special release party.

Copper Kettle at Sierra Nevada Brewing (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Smith)

Charlie told me that his girlfriend had seen something on Facebook about Beer Camp and thought it might be something that would interest him and it did, Charlie then had to come up with an entry video. Half of the winning videos were picked by Sierra Nevada and the other half were determined by popular vote, Charlie’s video was picked by Sierra Nevada. He told me he wanted to incorporate camping into the entry and of course beer which explains the beginning of the video but what I really wanted to know was if that wine was supposed to be sparkling to which he responded, “No, I really messed that up”, l think that may have been my favorite part of Charlie’s video. Charlie also told me how he had lived in Chico, California for a while during an exchange program, which is where he got into good beer, he found himself drinking $2 pints of Sierra Nevada at the local bars, one might say Sierra Nevada was Charlie’s gateway brewery into a world of craft beer.

Bottling Line At Sierra Nevada Brewing (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Smith)

The twenty people chosen to attend Beer Camp get separated into two groups, Beer Camp #94 and #95, Charlie was in #95. I asked Charlie what he learned at Beer Camp and if he picked up anything that he might be able to apply to his own homebrewing. Charlie didn’t seem to think he picked up anything that really applied to his homebrewing as he’s only completed a handful of batches but was very impressed with their quality control practices. He also told me about some of their eco-friendly brewing processes, any place that they could have a solar panel they did. They have their own farm with a cattle herd, the spent grains from brewing are fed to their cattle, the cattle are used as food for the brewpub and the manure from the herd is used as fertilizer in their hopyard and barley fields.

Ingredients prepared for brewing (Photo Courtesy of Charlie Smith)

The beer that Charlie got to help choose, brew and name is called Bloodshot, it’s an Imperial red ale. The group all sat in a room with the brewer and threw out ideas for styles and then narrowed them down until they had the beer they wanted to brew. Charlie told me that the beer was named on one of the Beer Camp field trips the group took to a winery, “we were all a bit hung over with bloodshot eyes, I don’t think we left the bars until 2am”, fitting name in my opinion.

Part of the Beer Camp experience is having a release party at the bar of your choice, the beer that Charlie helped brew, on that 20 barrel pilot system in Chico, California, is coming to Bangor. Charlie picked Nocturnem Draft Haus

Hops in the Kettle (Photo courtesty of Charlie Smith)

to hold his release party which is on Friday March 8th at 5pm. This is a pretty exclusive event that you won’t want to miss; there are only 10 bars with this beer on tap (chosen by the members of Beer Camp #95) and maybe a few others including the Sierra Nevada brewpub. If you can’t make the event you are in luck, Charlie let me know that Sierra Nevada has chosen Bloodshot imperial red ale to be one of the Beer Camp releases for this year. Instead of a mixed 12 pack (which they’ve done in the past) they will be releasing both Beer Camp #94 and #95 in 22oz bottles but they won’t come out until August so you’ll have to wait.  I hope to see a good crowd this Friday March 8th at Nocturnem Draft Haus in Bangor for Charlie’s release party, I’ll be there live blogging the event on Twitter and Facebook as well as posting the beer review from the bar that night, stop by and say hi, let me know what you think of the beer.



Chad Lothian

About Chad Lothian

Chad Lothian lives in Old Town, Maine. He is a craft beer enthusiast and homebrewer. Chad has travelled to brewpubs, breweries and brewfests all over New England.