Chico, CA. Hello Mother, Hello Father, I’m writing this postcard from Beer Camp Chico at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. As you both know, I have visited many breweries before, but this place is far and away the most magical. There are tank farms stretching to the heavens everywhere we turn. They remind me of the redwood forests where we used to camp. Since we got here this morning, I have met some cool campers like me. Did you know that Tom Nickel and Jeff Bagby―my best brewing friends―made the trip too? It means you don’t have to worry about me getting into too much trouble. Because we know they’re the real troublemakers. The guys tell me we’re sneaking out to the Crazy Horse tonight for $1 Banquet Beers. I might even muster enough courage to ride the mechanical bull. Today we met camp counselors Steve and Terrence. I don’t normally get jealous, but I think Terrence has the best job. He gets to walk around and just point at things. He knows so much about everything. (But I’m convinced that when he doesn’t know the answers, he just makes things up.) Most likely, he’s going to tire of me though. I ask a lot of questions. But that’s how you raised me. Question everything. Today, I even discovered that pale ale tastes freshest when you’re pedaling a bicycle made for ten! How cool is that? I have to admit it seemed like something built for Willy Wonka. They say it’s one of Ken’s projects. Everything here seems to be imagined by Mr. Grossman. He runs this amazing camp. Here at Camp Chico, everyone speaks very highly of him. I hope someday, I can run a brewery this cool. I’ve been told that if I behave (and don’t drink too much of something they call Torpedo), I’ll get to have lunch with him tomorrow. I doubt I’ll sleep tonight. It promises to be the highlight of my trip. I’m even going to eat all my vegetables, as to not embarrass you. We toured the brewery today and went on numerous thirst-inducing hikes. Thankfully there is always beer at the end of each hike. Don’t worry, even with all this beer, I won’t be getting dehydrated. Because, today I learned beer is 90 percent water. However, I am concerned about my weight gain. Camp Chico isn’t some New Age diet camp. The restaurant serves unbelievable food and they have 20 beers on tap up here. Some I’ve never tasted before. Before we’re done here, I need to finish my camp project. Our group has to imagine a beer, design a recipe, and then assist the brewers. We’re making an imperial stout. It’s called The Empire Strikes Black. You know with a name like that, it’s going to be epic. Rumor is, they’re going to age some of it in bourbon barrels for a year. The brewers here seem impressed by our project, as it’s the biggest beer they have ever made. This camp is incredibly educational and the seminars are very informative. Did you know these guys use more whole flower cones than any other brewery in the world? Every camper is ultra impressed by the hop freezers. My group selected hop cones from New Zealand for our beer. The best part about camp is that when I come home, I won’t be bringing you any crappy macaroni artwork pieces. Nope, I get to bring home beer. This will make you the envy of all your friends. I’m done with other camps. This place has it all. I haven’t even left yet but I know I’m already going to miss it here. You’re the best. Tomme Tomme Arthur aspires to be a beer camp counselor one day. He currently serves as Director of Brewery Operations for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey.
Tomme Arthur aspires to be a beer camp counselor one day. He currently serves as Director of Brewery Operations for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey.