Beer, coffee, vampires and outer space



This one time, at beer camp Chico, you know you’re the center of the universe, right? The fact that you can smell Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s world-class beers being brewed right now, just down the street, is reason enough to lift your chin, suck in that Pale Ale gut and strut across the fertile land of craft-brew nation. But this weekend … this weekend is just ridiculous. On Saturday, July 19, over 100 craft brewers from around the western U.S. will be gathering under a tent at the Sierra Nevada hops field to show off their wares at the kick off of our hometown brewery’s seven-city Beer Camp Across America tour. It’s all to celebrate the grand opening of Sierra Nevada’s East Coast location in Mills River, N.C. (where the final stop of the tour will land on Aug. 3). Every craft brewery in the country was invited to regional fests and more than 700 will be taking part.

If all that wasn’t enough, as a precursor to the whole extravaganza, Sierra Nevada teamed up with a dozen of its favorite breweries/brewers in the country (all of whom will also be at each of the festivals) to create a variety 12-pack of one-off collaborations that was released last week. I participated in two pre-camp tastings with some of my fellow beer campers, and I was bowled over by the range in styles and the fact that some of the best beer-makers on the planet—e.g., Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Cigar City, 3 Floyds, Bell’s, Allagash (my favorite collab, the Myron’s Walk Belgian-style pale ale)—were available in one 12-pack for only $25! It’s enough to make a satisfied beer geek blush over this embarrassment of riches.

Oh, and believe it or not, tickets for Saturday’s festival are still available! But not many. Go to right now and reserve your spot in the annals of craft-beer history.

Hey, speaking of beer, mark Oct. 9-18 on your calendar for this year’s Chico Beer Week. It’ll be a week-plus of craft-beer celebration, beginning with the CN&R’s Nor Cal Beers and Bands kick-off at The Graduate on Oct. 9 and ending with another of Sierra Nevada’s epic fests, the hop-centric Single, Fresh, Wet and Wild Harvest Festival on Oct. 18. Keep picking up the CN&R and go like Chico Beer Week on Facebook to get updates on all the celebrations on tap.

Great state of Chico Sometimes Chico gives you weekends that are so packed with local goodness that you can hardly handle it. This is easily one of the most Chico-riffic weekends of 2014. In addition to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp, there are a couple of productions of Chico-style community-theater wackiness opening—a vampire apocalypse starts at the Blue Room Theatre Friday, July 18, with I Am Legend; and another Uncle Dad’s Art Collective original dance-musical, Everybody in Outer Space Lost Their Marbles! opens at Chico Women’s Club Saturday, July 19.

There are also two Surrogate shows this week (Thursday at the Maltese, next Wednesday at 1078 Gallery), and a ridiculously packed Friday with the monthly Dragopolis drag show at the Maltese, the Fork in the Road food-truck rally at Manzanita Place, and of course the super-epic grand opening of Great State Coffee Co. The party that the Naked Lounge folks are putting on at their new coffee-roasting facility (3881 Benatar Way, Suite C) promises to be a microcosm of every cool facet of Chico rolled into one hip happening: beer bar hosted by Winchester Goose, food from Blush Catering, music by Michelin Embers, Sisterhoods, Trox & the Terribles and Western Divide, plus DJs, fireworks, sideshows and giveaways. Goddamn!