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Amateurs invade craft brewery


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Published 2013-02-27T08:00:00Z”/>

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Beer CampJessica Bauer

Once a year, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. opens its doors for Beer Camp, a three-day brewing free-for-all where a select group of contestants develop the name, concept and recipe for a limited-edition ale.

This year’s 10 campers were chosen from more than 100 video entries submitted by beer fanatics across the country. Videos were judged on creativity and love of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Derek Hutzler, a senior Asian studies and business administration student at Chico State, was one of the select few given the opportunity to bring his ideas to life.

His entry video, influenced by the rotating camera scenes from television’s “That ’70s Show,” featured Hutzler acting in six different personas, one for each of the brewing company’s famous beers.

Hutzler, known online as “HopsNHops,” has been a home brewer for two years. He reviews beers and breweries on Twitter, Instagram and Untappd, a mobile application featuring critique and criticism of various breweries using social media.

Hutzler loves the experimentation and collaboration that comes with brewing beer, he said. He brews once or twice a month with his friends and has experimented with flavors such as pumpkin, vanilla and coffee.

“That’s what I really like about brewing as a hobby, the community feel,” he said. “It’s really strong.”

Collaboration yields great beers, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. constantly creates fun recipes through Beer Camp with people eager to learn more about brewing, said Ryan Arnold, the communications manager for the brewery.

Aside from three days of free food and drink from the brewery, one of the best parts of the experience for Hutzler was meeting the other home brewers from across the country who varied in age and experience, he said. All of the participants shared a passion for Sierra Nevada’s products and the desire to create a new beer of their own.

The beer the camp produced, “Sleight of Hand,” got its name from its dark appearance, Hutzler said.

A typical pale ale uses a light-colored grain, but the addition of other grains in this brew caused a drastic change of color in the drink without altering the flavor too much.

“The beer is a little sneaky, and it will deceive your eye,” Hutzler said. “You expect to drink something really thick, heavy and rich, but it’s still very easy going down.”

“Sleight of Hand” is a complex beer, said Chris Putz, a junior agricultural business major and home brewer.

“You don’t know how to describe it because you get different aromas, bouquets and all these things piled into one beer just trips your pallet out,” he said.

The Madison Bear Garden hosted a release party for the brew at 6 p.m. on Saturday, where the beer sold out within the first two hours of its appearance.

“Sleight of Hand” will be on draft and distributed nationally from August to September in 24-ounce bottles, Hutzler said.

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