Sierra Nevada Brewing brings new and rare beer to 2015 World Championships |

Sierra Nevada Brewing brings new and rare beer to 2015 World Championships

Krista Driscoll
Start House Session Ale, brewed exclusively for pouring during the two-week FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, is an easy-drinking IPA, light in body with an herbal hop aroma and whole-cone hop flavor highlighted by notes of pine and grapefruit.
Special to the Daily |

If you go

What: Special tasting of Start House Ale and other Sierra Nevada beers

When: 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11

Where: Fireside Bar, Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, 1300 Westhaven Drive, Vail

Cost: Free

More information: To learn more about Start House Session Ale and other beers mentioned in this article, visit For more information on the 2015 World Championships, including a full schedule of events, visit

After a 16-year interlude since their last appearance in the United States, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships have returned to Vail and Beaver Creek, and to celebrate this auspicious occasion, Chico, California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has put the trucks on the road to bring some special skier-friendly beers to the valley, including one never-been-seen-before, never-to-be-seen-again brew, Start House Session Ale.

The beer, brewed exclusively for pouring during the two-week event, is an easy-drinking IPA, light in body with an herbal hop aroma and whole-cone hop flavor highlighted by notes of pine and grapefruit. As the official beer sponsor of the ski races, the brewery knew it had to come up with something that would be popular across the board, and the response thus far has been better than imagined, said Becca Peterson, sales manager for Sierra Nevada.

“People thought it was really special that we were able to brew a beer for the event and bring a big brewery local,” she said. “They said it was a great beer and they really like that we brewed a style that appeals to the masses. That was the biggest response that we got at the kickoff, from bars, in the VIP area, everywhere that’s poured it for the event.”

Though lower alcohol content makes the beer very approachable, it doesn’t deviate from the brewery’s commitment to its signature style, Peterson said.

“We wanted to stay true to who we are, to make a beer that still has a lot of hop character,” she said. “We brew big, hoppy ales, so for us to stick with a hoppy ale was what we wanted to do, that West Coast style, but we wanted to go down on the alcohol a bit so people could drink multiple and enjoy them after a day on the slopes.”


Start House is just one of the beers that will be on tap from 4 to 9 p.m. daily throughout the World Championships at the Sierra Nevada Winter Beer Camp tent in Vail Village. The massive 20-by-100-foot tent sprawls across International Bridge, adjacent to the Solaris Plaza of Champions.

“We drove in our 48-foot draft trailer from Chico,” Peterson said. “We loaded that semi with all of these one-offs and all of these specialty beers that normally we don’t distribute to anybody.”

Start House will be constantly flowing at Winter Beer Camp, while it lasts, alongside Sierra Nevada’s flagship Pale Ale; Hop Hunter IPA, the brewery’s biggest release of the year made with distilled hop oil; and Beer Camp Hoppy Lager, a collaboration beer with Ballast Point Brewing Co. that was recreated after rave reviews from last fall’s Beer Camp tour. The other half of the eight taps in the tent will be in constant flux.

“Some are half barrels, some are 5-gallon kegs,” Peterson said. “We’ll tap new kegs each day when the bar is open, as long as they last, and when they kick, we’ll tap a new beer.”

Rare beers on hand include Trip in the Woods, a Scotch ale blend aged in Scotch barrels; a bourbon barrel-aged Narwhal Imperial Stout; a barrel-aged Imperial Smoked Porter; and, Peterson’s pick, the Ovila Abbey Saison with mandarins and cherries, a Belgian beer brewed in collaboration with Spanish monks that has a barrel-aged twist.

The Winter Beer Camp tent is open to the public, with 16-ounce pints of the four standard beers and 12-ounce pours of the specialty, one-off brews available for $6 each. Outside the tent, three satellite stations are serving $5, 12-ounce cans of Pale Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA and the brewery’s new Nooner Pilsner.


If you can’t make it to Winter Beer Camp, a handful of bars around the Vail Valley will have Start House on tap, including Blue Moose Pizza and both Chophouses in Beaver Creek and Vail; Vendetta’s, The Red Lion, Bol and Cinebistro in Vail Village; Westside Cafe in West Vail and the Fireside Lounge in the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa.

The Fireside Lounge also will host a special, free tasting of Sierra Nevada beers on Wednesday, including Start House, Nooner, Hop Hunter, Hoppy Lager and Pale Ale. Closer to the racing action, the brewery’s solar-powered draft trailer will be set up at the Apres Avon street festival in Avon’s Main Street Mall, open daily from 2 to 5:30 p.m. throughout the World Championships.

So no matter where you end up, you won’t be far away from getting your hands on a cold, tasty Sierra Nevada beer.

“Beer and skiing go hand in hand,” Peterson said. “Who doesn’t go on the mountain for the day and then grab a beer after? It’s the perfect combination.”

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