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US craft brewers unite for travelling beer festival

Published:  12 June, 2014

US craft brewer Sierra Nevada is teaming up with 700 brewers to host a series of beer festivals and collaborate on limited edition beers at a roadshow travelling from its California base to its new facility in North Carolina throughout July and August.

With seven stops in total, the Beer Camp Across America festival will travel from Chico in Northern California, the original home of Sierra Nevada Brewery, to Mills River, North Carolina, where Sierra Nevada plans to open its second facility.

Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman said: "We're honoured to celebrate craft beer's success alongside so many of our peers who are travelling from every corner of the country. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience we look forward to sharing with beer lovers everywhere." said Grossman.

The firm's Ryan Arnold added: "The idea for this event was born through a long conversation over several beers. We wanted to create an event that was not about us but showcases the success of craft beer all over in the US."

Nearly 700 breweries have already signed up to take part in the event, and will participate in the festival location nearest their area. Sierra Nevada hopes that these numbers will continue to grow before the road show kick off. "The hope and ambition is to crest 100 breweries at each location," said Arnold.

Each festival will feature up to two beers per brewery, food vendors, and live music. Cost per entry includes a tasting glass and unlimited tastings.

To promote the event and build relationships among participating craft brewers, Sierra Nevada is collaborating with other breweries to create a new range of beers. Very limited in volume, these special edition beers will be available at all festival tour stops. "Collaboration with other breweries on this scale is unprecedented for us," said Arnold.

The mixed 12-pack combines both bottle and can formats and will be available from July in all 50 states, which presents a unique opportunity for distribution that most small-scale craft brewers are otherwise unable to achieve. "New Glarus only distributes in Wisconsin, yet it is rated in the top 20 of all US craft breweries," Arnold explained. "This may be the first opportunity for craft beer enthusiasts to try new things they haven't experienced."

A portion of the proceeds from the festivals will go to the brewers' guilds or other nonprofit organisations in the host state of each festival, while part of monies raised from the sales of the 12-pack will go to hop and barley research to fuel the continued expansion of new flavour experiences for craft drinkers.

Though the large scale of this event will prevent it from becoming an annual ritual, more community-focused beer festivals may stem from it. "We will see how these seven festivals go," said Arnold. "It's ambitious but if it resonates we will have to look what comes next."