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To some extent, we’re all afraid of the unknown, but taking the leap can lead to big rewards.
Last week, however, was a departure.
We stepped into foreign territory, working on three exciting new beers for our forthcoming Beer Camp Across America mixed 12-pack.
Making this variety pack was never going to be easy—twelve different beers brewed in collaboration with twelve different breweries and packaged with ten bottles and two cans in a never-before-attempted pack—but to add more complexity to the puzzle, we’re also splitting up the brewing of the beers between our two breweries.
Over the course of a week, we were joined by talented brewers from three amazing breweries: Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, Rob Tod (and his band of brewers) from Allagash, and Bill Covaleski from Victory Brewing all visited to work on the test batches for their contributions to the mixed pack.
Each brewer created a unique beer—a hoppy farmhouse Belgian-style blonde ale from Russian River, a Belgian-style pale ale from Allagash, and a traditional Altbier from Victory. Because these are new recipes requiring a different set of ingredients, and in one case a new yeast strain, they are handled much differently in the brewhouse than our flagship.
Thankfully, our head brewer in Mills River, Scott Jennings, is no stranger to creative and finicky new beers. Before making the move to North Carolina, Scott was the lead in our research and development Pilot Brewery in Chico and spearheaded the creation of hundreds of unique and innovative beers on his own. Scott and the brewing staff were well prepared for the task, and with the help and guidance of our Beer Camp Across America partners, the brews went off without a hitch.
With every new recipe there is a fleeting moment of doubt, a brief flash of panic thinking about the process, or equipment, or the dozens of other intangibles that could potentially derail the batch. On a new brewing system, that anxiety is doubled. This is where the craft and skill of brewing rises to meet the art of designing a new beer. Brewing Beer Camp Across America so soon after commissioning Mills River is the culmination of both aspects of brewing—art and skill—and there’s no time like the present to get started.