Sierra Nevada is huge. I don’t think they should e considered craft anymore. They disagree but their operation is gigantic. 2000HL batches of beer brewed around the clock. Canning / bottling every single day…gigantic!
It’s the first “beer plant” tour I’ve ever been on. This is a plant, not a brewery and that’s alright.
Sierra Nevada has done all they can to make their operation as green as possible. Lots of trees, solar power, water recycling and of course sending spent-grains to local farms.
But, when you look at photos like above and see a grain miller that needs special sound proofing room insulation to meet noise standards for building codes, it’s clear to see just how freaking huge this place is. I observed a control room with 4 people just pushing buttons. That’s all they do as ‘brewers’. The only manual labor in the entire process is pouring hops into the kettle at flame-out. Everything else is done automatically.
Although, I can commend Sierra Nevada for 3 things.
- The tour was awesome. While our guide was very PR / Marketing speak and couldn’t answer a few of my questions, it was a really good tour that took nearly 2 hours including a half hour tasting of their core and pilot beers (that are only available on the tasting).
- The fact that Sierra Nevada setup an east coast facility is wonderful. Sure, they save a lot of money in shipping but the east coast has fresher SNPA now because trucks leave NC instead of Chico, CA when heading to atlantic distributors.
- Finally, the on-site draft list was really great. Tons of beers I have never seen before. I also finally got to rate Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I’ve skipped rating it because I wanted to try it at the source. This was a really special experience.
Here are a few more photos: