Sierra Nevada Beer Camp was the best festival of the summer that nobody went to

Categories: Beer Man

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Sierra Nevada Brewing didn't provide the double rainbow that arched across the sky above Civic Center Park last Friday. But the Chico, California-based brewery certainly took care of all the other details at Beer Camp Across America, a roving seven-city festival that will end in Mills River, North Carolina, on August 3.

There were celebrity brewers pouring their own creations, beers from more than 100 breweries, a mesmerizing circus-like marching band, tables, artwork, tulip glasses for tasting cups, a plethora of food trucks and restrooms -- all in Civic Center's stately, stunning setting between the State Capitol and the City & County Building.

As a result, Beer Camp may have been the best Colorado beer fest of the summer. But it was also fantastic for another, stranger reason: Hardly anyone came.

See also: Photos: Denver drinkers go to Beer Camp with Sierra Nevada

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"Our Chico kickoff had about 5,000 people, which was a lot. But as we moved east, the attendance has been a little lower," says Sierra Nevada spokesman Ryan Arnold. "The Denver attendance was lower, too, but we are thrilled that people walked out feeling like it was one of the better beer festivals they've been to."

Sierra Nevada had room for 5,000 people, but ended up admitting only about 1,600.

That meant no line at the entrance, no lines for beers -- the longest was about five people at the Russian River booth, where brewery co-owner Natalie Cilurzo was pouring two highly sought-after beers, Supplication and Pliny the Elder -- and no lines at the bathrooms. It meant there was no jostling through herd-like drunken crowds.

Instead, attendees had their choice of several hundred beers, many rare or special ones, which they could sip from tulip glasses in the spacious park. It was a welcome relief in a state where craft-beer fests are often packed into such tight spaces and with so many people that they become uncomfortable and unwieldy.

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The low attendance could have been the result of several factors. Sierra Nevada didn't do much advertising, relying primarily on social media; there was also confusion about which breweries would be there. In addition, Beer Camp was competing against the annual Summer Brew Fest, which took place at Mile High Station on the same night. And Beer Camp carried a higher price tag ($65) than most beer festivals.

"The ticket prices -- we felt like there was a lot of value in there," Arnold says, who pointed out how wide the variety of beers was. "There was also a great concert woven into the mix. This wasn't just a beer fest, and we thought there was value in that."

The music was provided by the MarchFourth Marching Band, which is traveling with Sierra Nevada and performing at all seven festivals. The band is made up of costumed acrobats, a stilt-walker and musicians, including a six-part brass section and a five-part percussion corps, who all danced throughout the show.

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Sierra Nevada, the nation's second-largest craft brewer, is opening a second major production facility in Mills River next month. The goal of the touring festival wasn't just to highlight that fact, however; it was also to bring attention to the craft brewing industry as a whole, Arnold says. To do that, Sierra Nevada invited every brewery in the nation to attend one of the fests and brewed twelve different collaboration beers with twelve other breweries, including Longmont's Oskar Blues.

"Considering the complexities of making this happen in seven cities, we knew this wasn't going to be a money maker," Arnold says. And while Sierra Nevada would have liked to see more people at Beer Camp, the company isn't complaining.

The final three stops on the tour take place this weekend in Portland, Maine; Philadelphia; and Mills River.


Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan


Location Info

Map

Civic Center Park

Broadway and Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: General


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62 comments
milleralexjames
milleralexjames

I don't think Sierra Nevada is losing any sleep about it, you guys. I'm bummed to have missed it cause I was out of town, but if I had nothing to do that night I woulda beer there for sure.

Shane Linart
Shane Linart

There's a beer festival every 30 seconds in this town.

Stephen Felt
Stephen Felt

It was too expensive for a casual drinker like me

Gabe Goetz
Gabe Goetz

Wish i would of been able to gooo

Sean Valdez
Sean Valdez

Everyone in CO smokes weed now this is proof alcohol sales are falling here in the state.

Randall Erkelens
Randall Erkelens

Man cannot live on social media advertising alone. I would have gone if I'd known about it and I'm on social media everyday. They could've used better PR.

Jonathan Evans
Jonathan Evans

If your gonna throw a beer fest in the epicenter of craft brewing, maybe it's best not to name it after an out - of - state brand.

John Hargett
John Hargett

At least the asshole who wrote this has the smug satisfaction which invariably accompanies misunderstood pre-suicidal elitists who ultimately realize they are the problem

Virgil Dunn
Virgil Dunn

Oddly enough, Faygo actually has better taste than what is served at these piss fests.

Byron Day
Byron Day

I've been to plenty of breweries, but I was still able to try a lot of brews I'd not been able to try before that night. I had an absolute blast! Granted, my ticket was free, thanks to, Jose , but had I paid the $65 I would have been fine with it. Plus, that tulip glass it awesome.

Dante Servantez
Dante Servantez

65 a ticket, yeah good price. especially when there are like 3 beer fests every weekend in Colorado

Kevin Villegas
Kevin Villegas

Maybe for $40. No way at $65. Sorry Sierra Nevada.

Alexise Gabrielle
Alexise Gabrielle

That could have been a well coordinated event to do at UMS and been an add-on price for say an unlimited beer garden. Marketing and promotion of it was poor at best, and the price was just plain unrealistic for Denver. It's a Chico based company and the market is way different there. Not to mention not a huge selection to offer a city that is known for having excellent brews and the competition for that price pretty much wins itself.

Susan Donlan Roy
Susan Donlan Roy

Thats a tough weekend. One of the biggest "wedding weekends" of the year and Denver has become a younger city.

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

We saw it as a beer fest with GABF prices but not close to the number of breweries and beers as GABF. Screw that. If it's not a beer fest don't call it Beer Camp!

c.burnett
c.burnett

I was gonna go to this but at $65 from 1pm-6pm to me wasn't worth it. Also tried to go to the Breckenridge brew fest last weekend but it was sold out. The lines there were also super long. My guess is the average wait time was about 15 minutes and you only have a small shot glass. These beer festivals used to be awesome but now they have become too popular and too expensive.

Bräd Männ
Bräd Männ

If you have an overpriced event in Denver the same weekend as UMS, you're gonna have a bad time.

Sara Devanney
Sara Devanney

Hall Brewing's Peach Blonde was delish \U0001f61b

Ryk McDorman
Ryk McDorman

I've supported the industry for 25+ years, but everyone seems to think that people will come running to any festival that charges $35, $50 or higher for a few hours of drinking good beer. The value just isn't there at higher prices.

Micki Yankton
Micki Yankton

Didn't hear about but $65 is kinda expensive :-)

Stacy Sauls
Stacy Sauls

Yep, no clue this was happening. But I also would not have paid $65.

Jose Montoya
Jose Montoya

Lower the price, and double the ticket sales. It was really their own fault. We went and had a great time, but it was sold out, and still not very many people.

Frank Vasquez
Frank Vasquez

It would help if yall gave a little notice before events instead of writing juggalo articles.

Virginia Johnson
Virginia Johnson

$65 tickets and bad advertising... Most people hadn't even heard of this event, and not many people are going to pay $65 for a ticket in a market as beer-flooded as Denver. I'm glad it was a fun festival, but for that price I still won't go, too many other great, less-expensive options.

Aaron Betcher
Aaron Betcher

i had their beer camp double IPA...it sucked.

DougEfresh33
DougEfresh33

 Well I tried to buy a ticket online the same day and the website said it was sold out so someone needs to explain that to me.

fukit
fukit

it was outside on a really hot day, where typically it stinks like dumpsters and homeless, with no shade, it was a shorter time frame than other beerfests, and it was more expensive than any other festival this year.  So it's really a no brainer why no one showed up.  No wonder 5k showed up in chico, its home plate, and go look up where they had it, not even comparable to our grimy capital homeless camp.  Lived downtown for 15yrs, I avoid that area when walking around, and I would never in a million years call it "stately", I have called the odors eminating from the area "stunning" however.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

The "craft beer" fad has jumped the shark.

GregLJK
GregLJK

With the groupon deal they offered, I got my Summer Brew Fest ticket for $15. Much better than $65 for a similar (or lower?) number of beers - though Beer Camp did sound cool. I got to try some of the beers from their 12 pack at Little's Liquor and there was good stuff in there.

jamie490
jamie490

There are so many choices for brewfests and beer events that I think people are just being picky about what they attend. Especially when they have a hight ticket price.

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

You obviously don't know their intentions at all. This was a traveling beer festival based on a company's release of collaboration beers with places around the country. I'm sure they had absolutely NO interest in partnering with a local music festival held at the same time.


And you couldn't be more incorrect with the "not a huge selection" comment - all the beer snobs I've heard/read from were very happy with the selection.

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

"Sierra Nevada had room for 5,000 people, but ended up admitting only about 1,600."


You are 100% wrong.

LeahA
LeahA

Actually it was cool out that evening. And smelled like grass and rain.

LeahA
LeahA

It was pricey. But there were well over 100 breweries there, many of which were from out of state and whose beers we can't normally get in CO.

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