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Sierra Nevada Mills River brewery a jewel of the North Carolina brewing scene

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Even though the large brown attraction sign on Highway 26 headed in to Asheville, North Carolina announce its existence, it is hard to form an accurate picture in one’s mind just how extraordinary the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company brewery in Mills River, North Carolina really is. Even after you drive along the side of the small regional airport and then take a non-descript road behind it the magnitude of the brewery does not sink it. It is only when you get your first glimpse of the intricate front gates of the complex as you enter the roundabout outside them that you start to get a feel for the splendor that lies ahead.

As you drive along the winding road that leads from the gate to the brewery it is obvious that this brewery was not built in an old warehouse or abandoned brick factory as so many craft breweries are. The care that was given to the look of the road, the safety rails and even the street lights are clues to what will greet you when you arrive at the front of the building.

As round the final bend in the road the first thing you notice are the solar panels placed evenly throughout the parking lot. Then, as you move further in to the parking area you notice the beautiful façade of the brewery building, the eye is drawn to the peaked roof trimmed in copper over a wall of windows looking in on the shiny copper brewing vessels. To one side of the brewing room are a cluster of towering fermenters on the other are arch-topped windows and signs announcing the location of the brewery offices and taproom. The building is a work of art that both impresses and provides a measure of coziness. It exudes class and taste while maintaining a warmth not dissimilar to what one might feel in a mountain chalet.

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Inside, the building is equally impressive. The windows let in streams of natural light that reflects off highly polished copper surfaces that seem to be everywhere. Above the entry for the offices and tour desk hangs a beautiful tiered chandelier that upon closer inspections reveals it is fabricated of hundreds of brown beer bottles. The wall behind the tour desk is a modern, yet rustic mixture of layered glass panels with roughly hewn wood planks sandwiched between them.

The guided tour takes visitors deep into the heart of the brewery and along a gleaming central corridor. Stops along the tour include a view at one of only a few wet grain mills in the United States, the hops room full of bins of herbaceous, brightly colored hops, in to the brewing room, the fermentation room and for a look at the yeast propagation tanks and the packaging rooms. It also includes stops in hallways festooned with dark wood display cases showcasing brewing memorabilia including some of the very first bottles of Sierra Nevada beer ever produced.

As is often the case on brewery tours, there is also an opportunity to sample the fruits of the brewers’ labors. On our visit we were treated to a number of special beers because it was the breweries 35th Anniversary of being founded in Chico, Calif.

Photo by Marc Wisdom

Photo by Marc Wisdom

But, after the tour is over there is plenty more to do at the brewery. Just a few short steps away is the brewery taproom and restaurant. Upon entering this space you will notice that there are several small beer kettles lining the windows to the right. These are used for smaller batch and experimental brews to be served at the taproom bar visible straight ahead.

If you are looking for a taproom with a kitchen slapped on as an after-thought, you are going to be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a restaurant that prepares delicious, thoughtfully created dishes that pair incredibly with beer, you will be in heaven. Dishes like wood roasted pork belly, duck fat fries and pretzels with pimento beer cheese are served on small plates meant for sharing and enjoying together. Special beers along with Sierra favorites are also available in the taproom and can be expertly paired with the menu items upon request.

After dinner, plan on strolling to the back of the building and enjoying a few brews on the patio or in the amphitheater. The space features a roaring fire pit and plenty of comfortable chairs and tables throughout. In addition, there is a bar serving cold brews right on the porch.

It is evident in the attention to detail that the North Carolina brewery was a labor of love for Sierra Nevada. Many have referred to it as the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of breweries. For beer-lovers that are looking for an extraordinary experience that encompasses an interesting look into one of America’s best breweries, lively tasting and delicious culinary experiences in a beautiful setting, the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River, North Carolina is a must-visit.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Sierra Nevada collaborates with German brewery on Oktobefest

sierrenevadaoktoberfestKen Grossman, the mastermind behind Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is known to be fiercely loyal to his family, his brand and those who enjoy his products. As one of the pioneers in the craft beer industry, he is also keenly aware of the importance of keeping his product offerings fresh and exciting. With his newest project, Grossman brings together his family with another family-owned and family-run brewery in Germany. The project sees his company collaboratively brewing a new Oktoberfest beer with 600-year-old Brauhaus Riegle of Augsburg, Germany.

Read all the details in the official press release below:

Chico, CA— June 29, 2015—On a trip to Germany this spring, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. finalized its inaugural partner, Augsburg’s Brauhaus Riegele, for a brand new Oktoberfest beer. Released each fall starting in 2015, the collaborative seasonal will feature a different German brewery every year. The partnership blends centuries of brewing tradition with modern spirit, giving craft drinkers the ultimate Oktoberfest, a Bavarian festival beer unlike any they’ve experienced in the US.

Family owned like Sierra Nevada, Brauhaus Riegele has brewed excellent craft beers since 1386, and more than 600 years later, its innovation earns accolades including 2015 Craft Brewer of the Year at the Meininger International Craft Beer Awards. Just as Sierra Nevada’s Ken and Brian Grossman lead as a father-son team, Brauhaus Riegele has a father-son duo at the helm. Its 27th generation Master Brewer Dr. Sebastian Priller-Riegele works alongside his son Sebastian Priller-Riegele, a World Champion Beer Sommelier, to brew a lineup of beers that together have earned more than 200 awards and medals stateside and abroad. Their brewmaster, Frank Muller, has won the German Government’s “Bundesehrenpreis” award for quality seven times—every year it’s been given.

“We’re honored that Brauhaus Riegele, a real cornerstone of German craft brewing, is kicking off this Oktoberfest collaboration with us,” said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder. “We’re both family owned, our children are hands on, and we share a passion for great beer. We’re aligned in so many ways, and we’re excited about the outstanding beer that’s emerged.”

“For years we’ve followed the great development of Sierra Nevada and we are really impressed by Ken and Brian’s fantastic beer culture,” said Sebastian Priller-Riegele, Brauhaus Riegele’s marketing manager. “We are really looking forward to sharing this outstanding beer together that shows our passion and dedication to the art of brewing. It’s an honor to work with Sierra Nevada.”

The Sierra Nevada and Brauhaus Riegele collaboration Oktoberfest will hit retail shelves in August. It will only be distributed in North America, although Brauhaus Riegele fans in Germany need not worry. The two breweries are collaborating on a separate barrel-aged beer to be brewed and aged on site at Brauhaus Riegele’s traditional Bavarian sudhaus.

About Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America’s premier craft breweries, highly regarded for using only the finest quality ingredients. The pioneering spirit that launched Sierra Nevada now spans both coasts with breweries in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina. Sierra Nevada has set the standard for craft brewers worldwide with innovations in the brewhouse as well as advances in sustainability. It is famous for its extensive line of beers including Pale Ale, Torpedo®, Hop Hunter® IPA, Nooner® Pilsner, Porter, Stout, Kellerweis® and a host of seasonal, specialty and limited release beers. Learn more at www.sierranevada.com.

About Brauhaus Riegele
Founded in 1386, Brauhaus Riegele is acknowledged as one of Germanys leading breweries in respect to quality and beer culture. It is located in Augsburg in the heart of Bavaria, where roughly 30 different kinds of craft beers are brewed, among them “Commerzienrat Riegele Privat,” Germany’s beer of the decade. More information at www.riegele.de or www.riegele-biermanufaktur.de.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Beer

 

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Sierra Nevada adding new brews to 2015 lineup

Sierra-Nevada-New-for-2015Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has long been an innovator in the craft brewing industry. Since 1980 when Ken Grossman founded the company and helped spark the craft beer revolution, the company has worked hard to bring new flavors and experiences to their fans.

Now the brewery is debuting two new year-round brews and a new spring seasonal.

Get all the details from the official press release below.

Chico, CA—January 5, 2015—Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is debuting two year-round beers in early 2015: the intensely hop-heavy Hop Hunter IPA and the sessionable Nooner Pilsner. The brewery will also unveil its newest spring seasonal selection, Beer Camp Hoppy Lager, for a total of three brand-new beers for craft drinkers to explore.

Hop Hunter IPA features oil from wet hops steam distilled in the hop field, minutes after harvest—for the first time, drinkers can taste wet-hop character year-round. This pure, powerful hop essence is used alongside traditional hops to create the ultimate IPA experience. Hop Hunter IPA will be available year-round in 12-ounce bottles and on draught.

Alongside Hop Hunter IPA, Sierra Nevada will introduce its first year-round lager with Nooner Pilsner. Nooner is a refreshing and aromatic German-style pilsner that’s easy-drinking yet full of spicy and floral hop flavor from the use of whole-cone European hop varietals. Available on draught, in six-pack bottles, and in twelve-pack cans, Nooner is the perfect way to kick off an
afternoon of adventure.

Beer Camp Hoppy Lager rounds out Sierra Nevada’s new releases for early 2015. Beer Camp is the ultimate brewing experience. Sierra Nevada invites beer fans to the brewery nearly every week to create a collaborative beer, and each spring, they will release one of the highlights from the past year. This year’s hoppy lager is a reimagined encore of the hop-forward collaboration with San Diego’s Ballast Point that was a part of the incredibly popular Beer Camp Across America mixed pack.

“We’ve been incredibly busy designing and tweaking all of these new beers” said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder. “Our brewhouses have been going round-the-clock perfecting the recipes and it has been really fun to explore the limits of hops. I’m really excited about the work we’ve done on Hop Hunter. We’re no stranger to experimental hops and hopping techniques, but developing distilled wet hop oil is unlike anything we’ve tried. The results are amazing.”

All of these new releases will be widely available throughout the Sierra Nevada distribution footprint and can be found using the brewery’s Beer Locator.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Beer News

 

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Sierra Nevada releases first national beer with wild hop

neomexicanus-hopSierra Nevada Brewing Company has long been an innovator in the craft beer industry. Founded in 1980, the company is unarguably one of the forefathers of the entire movement. In keeping with their pioneering attitude, the brwery is the first to use a newly-discovered wild hop variety — the Neomexicanus hop — in a nationally-released brew.

read more about the hop and Sierra Nevada’s release below.

Chico, CA—For the finale of its five-bottle 2014 Harvest series, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is showcasing the wild Neomexicanus hop for the first time on a national stage. Originally found during a backcountry quest in the foothills of Taos, New Mexico, the bizarre cones of the Neomexicanus hop produce multiple heads—aptly nicknamed Medusa—and Harvest Wild Hop IPA boasts their vibrant melon, apricot and citrus aromas. The 24-ounce bottles ship to distributors starting this week and will be available through January 2015.

Quick stats on Harvest Wild Hop IPA:

• ABV—6.5%
• BU—55
• Hop(s)—Neomexicanus
• Malts—Two-row Pale, Caramel

“There’s a fun sense of adventure in our final Harvest beer of the year,” said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder. “The Neomexicanus hop was a lucky find by a rogue hophead combing the wild landscape, and he’s essentially gifted it to craft beer. We’re always looking for new aromas and flavors, and when they’re unexpected, it’s all the more exciting.”

Throughout 2014, the inaugural Harvest series explored newly developed hop varieties and different hopping methods: single hop (Yakima 291 and Equinox), fresh hop (Southern Hemisphere Harvest®), wet hop (Northern Hemisphere Harvest®), and wild hop. Sierra Nevada will reimagine the Harvest series for 2015, with the first release slated for February.

Tied to the Harvest series and its celebration of hops, Sierra Nevada last month hosted its second annual Single, Fresh, Wet & Wild Harvest Festival in Chico, Calif. More than 50 brewers from across the country celebrated the annual hop harvest, pouring a selection of their beers that included at least one single hop, fresh hop, wet hop or wild hop beer. “With arguably the
greatest brewers in the country setting up camp next to the newly harvested hop fields,” said the Chico News & Review, “it’s pretty much the perfect beer experience.”

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Beer Styles

 

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Sierra Nevada celebrates craft beer with Beer Camp Across America

beercampEarlier this year, one of the craft brewing industry’s founding breweries — Sierra Nevada — announced that it had invited every craft brewery in the United States to participate in a first-of-its-kind collaboration. The event, dubbed Beer Camp Across America, is a multi-weekend traveling beer festival that begins in the brewery’s hometown of Chico, Calif. and ends at their new East Coast brewery in Mills River, NC. Along the way the Beer Camp will make five other stops throughout the country.

Sierra Nevada founder, Ken Grossman, reflected on the festivals, “We’ve watched and learned from each other for decades, and together we’ve seen tastes change and craft’s momentum snowball. Beer Camp Across America is our way of reflecting on this—with thousands of brewers, fans and great beers. It should be pretty fun.”

But, Beer Camp is not just another beer festival; it is also a way for Sierra Nevada and other participating breweries to foster their craft and the development of more diversity in the industry.  Proceeds from each stop will go to the state brewers guilds in the festival host state as well as to hop and barley research to foster the development of new types of hop varieties and barley crops to fuel the pursuit of new flavor experiences for the ever-expanding tastes of craft drinkers.

In all, over 700 breweries have signed-on for the historic multi-city tour with more than 1,400 beers representing every state in the country.

Beer Camp stops stretch from coast to coast with festivals in each of America’s many regions. At each stop guests will receive a commemorative tasting glass with unlimited tastings where possible. In addition organizers have insured there will be plenty to eat by bringing in local food trucks and entertainment will be provided by MarchFourth Marching Band. West Coast beer lovers will be the first to experience the traveling camp with the kickoff in Chico, Calif. on July 19. The entire schedule includes:

  • Saturday, July 19: Northwest Edition at Sierra Nevada Hop Field in Chico, Calif., 12:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 20: Southwest Edition at Embarcadero North in San Diego, Calif., 1:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Friday, July 25: Rocky Mountain Edition at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colo., 5:00-10:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 27: Midwest Edition at Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill., 12:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, August 1: New England Edition at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine, 5:00-10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 2: Mid-Atlantic Edition at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, Pa., 1:00-5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 3: Southeast Edition in Mills River, N.C., 1:00-6:00 p.m.

In addition to, an in support of the Beer Camp tour, Sierra Nevada has collaborated with 12 breweries across the country to create a once in a lifetime 12-pack. The Beer Camp Across America Mixed 12-Pack consists of 10 bottles of beer and two cans from some of the country’s most coveted breweries. Each of the brewers chosen will travel to each of the Beer Camp stops to pour and discuss the collaboration brew they created with Sierra Nevada.

“A lot of creativity and hard work went into the Beer Camp Across America 12-pack, and we’re excited to finally share it with drinkers,” said Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada. “We’ll pour these beers at every festival stop with hundreds of other craft brewers who are pushing the boundaries of our industry. It’s a traveling party, and we’re going to have a great time.”

The brewers chosen and the beers they created are:

  • Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine — Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale
  • Asheville Brewers Alliance, Asheville, N.C. — Tater Ridge Scottish Ale
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Calif. — Electric Ray India Pale Lager
  • Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. — Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale
  • Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Fla. — Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock (CAN)
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif. — Torpedo Pilsner
  • New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, Wis. — There and Back English-Style Bitter
  • Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, Ore. — Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout
  • Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo./Brevard, N.C. — CANfusion Rye Bock (CAN)
  • Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, Calif. —  Yvan the Great Belgian-Style Blonde
  • 3 Floyds Brewing Company, Munster, Ind. — Chico King Pale Ale
  • Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Alt Route Altbier

Tickets are now on sale at www.SierraNevada.com/BeerCamp and are limited to 5,000 per venue. Tickets cost $65 for general admission, which includes a tasting glass and unlimited tastings (in most locations, see the website for full details). A designated driver ticket is available for $30. Ticket prices are exclusive of taxes and fees, which will vary according to location.

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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Beer Festival

 

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Whole Foods to host Sierra Nevada beer dinner

sierra-nevada-brewing-co-logoWhole Foods on San Jose has hosted many beer events over the past few years. And, on Thursday, January 23, they have scheduled another event you will not want to miss. The store will host a phenomenal five course meal featuring the beers of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Each course will be paired with an accompanying beer and guests will learn the history behind this innovative brewery from a Sierra Nevada Beer Expert.

Menu

  • Prosciutto Wrapped Medjool Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese
  • Savory Seafood Bouillabaisse
  • Seasonal Fruit Salad with Orange Ginger Vinaigrette
  • Smoked Beef Tenderloin Au Poivre with Herb Roast Potato Medley
  • Roast Cherry & Cardamom Cake with Pistachio Gelato

Tickets for the dinner are $40 and are available online or at the store. Space is limited and registration is required. Reservations must be made by Wednesday, January 22.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2014 in Beer Dinner

 

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Summer beer round-up, video segment from “I Know Jax”

In the heat of a Jacksonville summer, a cold beer is just the thing to beat the heat and humidity. With that in mind, I embarked on a journey to several local beer emporiums and picked out a selection of brews that will quench your thirst as well as intrigue your taste buds.

Watch the segment from “I Know Jax,” then read more about each brew below.

Green Room Brewing Co. — Pablo Beach Pale Ale

This refreshing, locally-brewed ale is packaged in a can making it perfect for picnics, barbeques and other outdoor activities. The brewers at Green Room have captured a citrusy brew with notes of pine and hints of malt to cut the bitterness. Serve this straight out of the cooler or in a pint glass and enjoy the great weather here in the River City.

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing — Summer Shandy

Shandy’s are the perfect summer beer with their light and refreshing flavors that are not too heavy. They combine favorite summertime flavors, in this beer’s case smooth wheat beer and sweet lemon. Served very cold, this beer is ideal for sipping on a lazy Sunday afternoon on the back porch.

Harpoon Brewing Co. — UFO White

Brewed with hand-ground spices like coriander and orange peel, this refreshing unfiltered beer follows in the 300 year tradition of Belgian spiced wheat beers in spectacular style. Typical of the style, this beer pours hazy and golden with a fluffy white head. The drinks smooth and refreshing with hints of orange and spice.

Spoetzl Brewery — Shiner Ruby Redbird

With a reddish color and an invitingly sweet grapefruit aroma, this brew promises a drinkable experience that it truly delivers. The flavor is predictably of ruby red grapefruit making this a great, sessionable beer with a flavor that is agreeably different from other beers on the market. Drink this one cold and from a pint glass to fully enjoy.

Cigar City Brewing Company – Cucumber Saison

Brewers tend to look for the next interesting flavor profile. The guys over at Cigar City has found it in this refreshing summer treat that positively reeks (in a good way) of cucumber while it maintains the funkiness one expects in a saison. Drink this one chilled in flutes with a fresh summer salad for a lively and refreshing experience.

Brooklyn BrewerySummer Ale

Lemon is a common and welcome flavor in summer beers and Brooklyn does not disappoint with this entry into the summer beer market. The flavor is biscuity with a light lemon note that rounds out the sweet malts. Drink this one straight from the bottle while enjoying a cool summer breeze on your porch swing.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Kellerweis

According to the brewer’s website, ““Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity.” The flavor is bready with light lemon notes along with cloves and white pepper. This beer is a great accompaniment to any summertime backyard party.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Beer Styles, I Know Jax, The Beer Guy

 

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