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Brewing at Sierra Nevada

Feb 11, 2014 Comments (0)  | Tags: Collaborations, Beers Brewing at Sierra Nevada

Jamie with Sierra Nevada Founder Ken Grossman. Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

When you hear "Ninkasi" and "Sierra Nevada" in the same sentence, when that sentence is about how the two breweries are going to collaborate on a beer for the same bottle, what kind of beer do you expect to land itself in that bottle?

A total hop bomb, right?

Wrong.

As our founding brewer Jamie would tell you, that would have been way too expected for our two hop-loving breweries, that are currently collaborating on a beer for Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America Variety Pack. And where's the fun in that?

Instead, they decided to do something a little different, something a lot delicious, and something incredibly representative of Oregon, a state known for brewing more than just great beer, but also rich, coffee. From there a coffee milk stout was born! Made with not just any coffee, but coffee lovingly brewed in our backyard: from local favorite and Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

stumptown

Photo courtesy of Stumptown

After deciding what style of beer to make, the real brewing fun could begin!

So, Jamie headed down to Chico with Paul and Mark from our brew crew to spend a day at Sierra Nevada making a test batch with three of their brewers.

Sierra Nevada Jamie Hops

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

Their time at Sierra Nevada was full of everything you would expect from this legendary craft brewery: friendly encounters with employees who clearly love what they're doing and what they're making every day, mounds of the finest and freshest ingredients, brewing equipment that will blow your mind (and make you think you "landed on a star trek episode" according to Jamie), tons of craft beer fans swarming to the pub and beaming from ear-to-ear as they try one of Sierra Nevada's latest and greatest creations, and last, but not least: so. much. great beer.

sierra nevada hop hands

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

Which is exactly what our crew kicked off their trip to Chico with.

And let us warn you, reading the list of brews that Team Ninkasi tried during their trip to California might make you pack up a bag and head straight to Chico.

As soon as they rolled into town, our brewers enjoyed cheersing away their new and old friends, as they satisfied their palates with Narwhal, Torpedo ("you HAVE to while you're at the mothership," Jamie tells us), multiple beers made with experimental hops, a Saison brewed with yeast from Russian River's Beer Camp collaboration, their Kellerweiss (another "MUST HAVE"), and a Weizenbock (to name a few. Hey, when 28 taps of fresh Sierra Nevada are available, go big or go home, right?)

sierra nevada hop carry

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

The next morning, it was time to get to work brewing three batches of our coffee milk stout on the Beer Camp Brewery's 10-barrel system, an amount that would emulate how the beer will turn out on Sierra Nevada's much larger brewing system.

Sierra Nevada Jamie Milling

Photo courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

The first part of their day was all about the malts: fine-tuning the recipe, milling the grains, and mashing in the first batch. This coffee milk stout features several dark malts and roasted grains that, along with the coffee, will give the beer a complexity and astringency to balance out the sweetness from the lactose (milk sugar) that gets added to the fermentation tanks.

sierra nevada hydrometerPhoto courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

In between brewing test batches, Jamie and the gang did exactly what you would want to do while spending a day in the Beer Camp brewery: they tasted other Beer Camp brews straight from the fermentation tanks! From the looks of it, Jamie had a pretty decent time doing this...

sierra nevada jamie zicklePhoto courtesy of Sierra Nevada.

By the end of a long day of brewing, a full test batch of the Beer Camp Coffee Milk Stout was in the fermentation tank, waiting for lactose to get added, which will give the beer that subtle sweetness, reminiscent of the latte that it was inspired by. We know there's a good chance this beer will be unlike anything you've ever tried from either of our breweries, but we're quite certain there's an even better chance, you're gonna love it.

Read more about Ninkasi's first trip to Chico. 

Read more about Beer Camping with Sierra Nevada.


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