Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Type Private
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1980
Headquarters Chico, CA, USA
Products Beer
Production output 780,000 barrels
Owner(s) Ken Grossman
Employees 450
Website www.sierranevada.com

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was established in 1980 by homebrewers Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi in Chico, California, USA.[1] Sierra Nevada Brewing is one of the top breweries operating in the United States. Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale is the second best-selling craft beer in the United States, behind the Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams Boston Lager.[2] As of 2012, it is the seventh-largest brewing company in the United States.[2] The brewery produced 786,000 barrels of beer (922,353 hectoliters) in 2010.[3]

The brewery was named "Green Business of the Year" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 for its practices in sustainability.[4]

History[edit]

Headquarters in Chico, CA

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded in 1979, with founders Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi expanding their homebrewing hobby into a brewery in Chico, California. Along with the brewery's location, Grossman claims the company's name comes from his love of hiking in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.[5] With $50,000 in loans from friends and family, Grossman & Camusi rented a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) warehouse and pieced together discarded dairy equipment and scrapyard metal to create their brewing equipment.[6][7] They later were able to acquire second-hand copper brewing kettles from Germany before moving to their larger, current brewing facility in 1989.[8]

The first batch brewed on premises was its Pale Ale,[9] in November 1980.[5] The following year the brewery introduced Celebration, an IPA, which it continues to release as a winter seasonal. The company sold 950 barrels of beer in its first year, and double that amount in the second.[6]

The company's first employee was Steve Harrison, who was put in charge of marketing and sales.[10] The head brewer is Steve Dresler who has been with the brewery since 1983, when its output was 25 to 30 barrels per week.

The company distributed the beer itself in the early 1980s, struggling with financial and marketing issues. A 1982 article in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting the brewery, as well as having its beer sold in prominent restaurants such as Berkeley's Chez Panisse, helped establish a market for Sierra Nevada's beer.[11]

By 1987, the brewery was distributing to seven states and production had reached 12,000 barrels per year, causing the company to pursue building a new brewery.[10] In 1988, the brewery moved into a 100 barrel brewhouse, with four open-barrel fermenters, and 11 68-barrel secondary fermenters. A year later, Grossman and Camusi added the Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner and included a giftshop. In the year 2000, the brewery opened "The Big Room," a live music venue located inside the brewery's facilities, featuring a variety of acts including country, bluegrass, folk, rock, blues and other musical genres.[10]

Camusi retired in 1998 and sold his share in the company to Grossman.[10]

In 2010, Sierra Nevada Brewing partnered with the Abbey of New Clairvaux, with the monastery beginning production of Trappist-style beers in 2011. The Abbey has not yet been sanctioned by the International Trappist Association, and therefore the monastery will not be brewing official Trappist beer.[12]

The brewery currently employs about 450 people.[13]

In January 2012, Sierra Nevada announced it will build a second brewing facility with an attached restaurant in Mills River, North Carolina. It is scheduled to open in early 2014.[14] In 2013, the company opened the Torpedo Room in Berkeley, their first tasting room outside of Chico.[15]

Influence[edit]

Along with Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco and the now-defunct New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, whose owners offered Grossman and Camusi early guidance in their venture, Sierra Nevada is considered one of the earliest and most influential breweries which spawned the craft beer movement of the 1980s-90s.[6][9] Grossman has been dubbed a "pioneer" by fellow craft brewers in the United States.[11]

Whereas many of the newly spawned microbreweries of the 1980s went out of business, Sierra Nevada Brewing endured to become one of the largest independent brewers in the country, whose beers were noted for their "character and complexity".[6][7] Grossman believed many microbrewers of the early 1980s had put out an inferior product due to lack of preparation for the financial and mechanical realities of commercial brewing, which were a "much different process" from homebrewing.[6]

For its 30th anniversary in 2010, the company released a series of collaborative beers with the assistance of those Grossman considered an early influence on his brewing: Charlie Papazian, Fred Eckhardt, Fritz Maytag (Anchor) and Jack McAuliffe (New Albion).[11]

In November 2010, Stansbury Publishing released Hops and Dreams: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, written by California State University, Chico professor Rob Burton who researched the company for three years.[16]

The company has claimed to be neutral on political issues, and reiterated this stance in 2010 when it was erroneously linked by a beer industry group to opposing the California Proposition 19 of that year, which would have legalized marijuana in the state.[17]

Environmental record[edit]

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. won the US Environmental Protection Agency's "Green Business of the Year" award for 2010.[18]

The brewery is powered by solar energy, having 10,000 photovoltaic modules covering its rooftops and parking lot.[19] In all, the brewery uses 2.6 megawatts of solar electricity on premises.[20] It also has built a charging station for electric vehicles on its premises.[1]

The company processes used cooking oil from its restaurant for biodiesel use in its delivery trucks. In 2009, it reached an agreement with a local ethanol company to produce high-grade ethanol fuel from its discarded yeast.[21] Spent grain is sold to local cattle ranchers for livestock feed; spent water is sent to the brewery's own water treatment plant, where it is reused, mainly as drip irrigation for its fields.[22] Over 99.5% of the brewery plant's solid waste is diverted from landfill.[22]

Sierra Nevada is the largest buyer of organic hops in the United States.[18] It also farms its own organic hops and barley for use in its annual Chico Estate Harvest Ale release.[23]

Beers[edit]

Sierra Nevada Classics[edit]

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

The brewery's year-round offerings include its Pale Ale, Porter, Stout, Torpedo 'Extra' IPA, and Kellerweis Hefeweizen.

Sierra's flagship Pale Ale has been described as "a balance between aggressive hops and hearty malt flavor", with its Cascade hops offering a grapefruit aroma and fruity palate.[24] Like several other Sierra Nevada offerings, it is bottle-conditioned.[25] It is the best-selling pale ale in the United States as of 2012.[8][26][27]

Sierra Nevada's Porter, along with its heavier Stout version, have been described by writer Michael Jackson as "gently coffeish" and "beautifully roasty" examples of their respective styles.[28] The two offerings have been brewed since the company's first year of operation.[11]

Torpedo is an American India Pale Ale and Kellerweiss is a traditional Bavarian hefeweizen. Both were introduced as nationwide offerings in 2009.[29][30]

Seasonals[edit]

The brewery's current lineup of seasonals include Ruthless Rye IPA, Summerfest pilsner, Flipside Red IPA, and Celebration Ale.

Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale has been brewed as a winter seasonal since 1981. While it has won medals under the IPA category,[31] it has also been described as a hoppy, malty amber ale,[32] as well as a "bigger version" of the company's pale ale.[33]

Tumbler Brown Ale has been described as a full-bodied, malt-heavy brown ale[34] and is sold for the autumn months.

Ruthless Rye IPA is an IPA brewed with rye and whole-cone hops for the spring, while Summerfest is a pilsner brewed in the Czech tradition.[35]

Special Release[edit]

Bigfoot, 2006 Edition

Annual "Special Release" beers produced by Sierra Nevada include Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, Hemisphere Harvest Ales and Chico Harvest Estate Ale.

Bigfoot is brewed with two types of malt and three differing hops, and tops out at 9.6%ABV. It is a barleywine, but due to alcohol laws in the U.S. it must be marketed as a "barleywine style ale".[citation needed] It first won medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 1987.[36] It is generally released January–February of each year.

The brewery releases both a Northern and Southern Hemisphere Harvest "wet hop" ale. Introduced in 1996 as Harvest Ale, Northern Hemisphere utilizes wet (undried) hops from eastern Washington for its "fresh harvest" ale. It was the first fresh-hop ale brewed in the United States.[37] The brewery later introduced Southern Hemisphere which features wet hops from New Zealand.

The Chico Estate Harvest Ale is brewed with organic wet hops and barley grown in land on the brewery's premises.[22]

Old Chico Crystal Wheat, a wheat beer, is named in memory of the Chico Brewery which operated in the town during the 19th century.[16]

Awards[edit]

Name Style Awards
Barrel-Aged Narwhal Wood-Aged Strong Stout 2013 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Bigfoot Barley Wine 2012 World Beer Cup Silver, 2005 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1997 Great American Beer Festival Silver, 1995 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1992 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1988 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1987 Great American Beer Festival Gold
Celebration India Pale Ale 1994 Great American Beer Festival Silver, 1990 Great American Beer Festival Bronze
Estate Homegrown Ale Fresh Hop Ale 2012 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 2010 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Imperial Stout Imperial Stout 2012 Great American Beer Festival Silver
IPA India Pale Ale 2005 Great American Beer Festival Gold
Kellerweis Hefeweizen 2012 World Beer Cup Silver
Kolsch Kölsch 2009 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 2008 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Ovila Dubbel Dubbel 2012 World Beer Cup Bronze
Pilsner Pilsner 2010 World Beer Cup Gold
Porter Porter 2000 Great American Beer Festival Bronze, 1983 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Ruthless Rye PA Rye Ale 2012 World Beer Cup Gold
Sierra 30 Jack and Ken's Ale Barley Wine 2010 Great American Beer Festival Gold
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 1995 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1993 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1992 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1990 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1989 Great American Beer Festival Gold, 1987 Great American Beer Festival Bronze, 1983 Great American Beer Festival Gold
Stout Stout 2004 World Beer Cup Bronze, 1989 Great American Beer Festival Silver, 1988 Great American Beer Festival Silver, 1987 Great American Beer Festival Bronze
Summerfest Lager 2004 Great American Beer Festival Bronze, 1991 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Weizenbock Wheat Ale 2011 Great American Beer Festival Silver
Wheat Wheat Ale 1998 Great American Beer Festival Bronze

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schwartz, Ariel (27 Apr 2009). "Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Gets Electric Vehicle Charging Stations". Fastcompany.com. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Brewers Association Releases 2010 Top 50 Breweries Lists". Brewers Association. April 10, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ Orr, Patrick (February 4, 2011). "Sierra Nevada Brewing is a true innovator". Idaho Statesman. 
  4. ^ "Sierra Nevada Brewing named EPA Green Business of the Year". Beer News. December 28, 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Alexandra (February 22, 2011). "Sierra Nevada founder talks beer with students". State Press (Arizona). Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Ogle, Maureen (2006). Ambitious Brew: the story of American beer. Orlando: Harcourt. pp. 300–306. ISBN 0-15-101012-9. 
  7. ^ a b Jackson, Michael (2000). Michael Jackson's great beer guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 428. ISBN 0-7894-5156-5. 
  8. ^ a b Jackson, Michael (1993). Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. Philadelphia: Running Press. p. 88. ISBN 1-56138-288-4. 
  9. ^ a b Kolesar, Bryan. (November 15, 2010). "Sierra Nevada turns 30". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Sierra Nevada Brewing Company". Reference for Business. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d Calagione, Sam (March–April 2010). "Sierra Nevada Turns 30: An Interview with Ken Grossman". Brewers Association. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  12. ^ Brooks, Jay R. (October 6, 2010). "Sierra Nevada Partners With The Abbey of New Clairvaux". Ale Street News. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  13. ^ Grossman, Brian (May 29, 2010). "Growing Up With the Family Brewery". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  14. ^ "Sierra Nevada beer plans eastward expansion with N.C. brewery". San Jose Mercury News (Associated Press). January 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  15. ^ "Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Room opens in Berkeley". Inside Scoop. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Wills, Joe (Fall 2010). "Chico’s Brew Turns 30". Chico Statements. CSU Chico. Retrieved August 11, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Sierra Nevada’s Stance on Proposition 19 (CA Marijuana Law)". The Full Pint. September 20, 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Arcuate, Francisco (December 2, 2010). "EPA Turns 40, Honors Environmental Heroes". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  19. ^ "Hops and Dreams: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.". Rocklin & Roseville Today (Rocklin, California). November 5, 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  20. ^ Demont-Heinrich, Christof (March 6, 2011). "Solar brews beer, charges EVs at Sierra Nevada". Solar Charged Driving. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "Sierra Nevada to turn beer yeast into fuel". The Full Pint. February 4, 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c Underwood, Kristin (August 6, 2009). "It's Harvest Time at the Sierra Nevada Brewery". Treehugger. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  23. ^ Foyston, John (October 2, 2009). "Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Ale on tap at the Basement Pub". The Oregonian. Oregon Live. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  24. ^ Harper, Timothy; Oliver, Garrett (1997). The Good Beer Book. New York: Berkley. p. 128. ISBN 0-425-15614-1. 
  25. ^ Rhodes, Christine P. (1995). The Encyclopedia of Beer. New York: Henry Holt & Co. p. 214. ISBN 0-8050-3799-3. 
  26. ^ Cizmar, Martin (September 25, 2012). "President of Beers: #18 Sierra Nevada Pale Ale". Williamette Week. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Top 10 craft beers". Gayot. FoxNews.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  28. ^ Jackson, Michael (1993). Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. Philadelphia: Running Press. pp. 174, 183. ISBN 1-56138-288-4. 
  29. ^ "Sierra Nevada Introduces Kellerweis as Newest Year-Round Beer" (Press release). Sierra Nevada. 6 March 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Sierra Nevada Introduces Year-Round Extra IPA" (Press release). Sierra Nevada. January 5, 2009. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale". Sierra Nevada. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  32. ^ Fabricant, Florence (December 18, 1991). "Brews From Near and Far". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 March 2011. 
  33. ^ Sawyer, Christopher (January 16, 2003). "Ales with extra kick for winter". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 3. 
  34. ^ Goble, Steve. (October 13, 2010). "Brewologist: Sierra Nevada Tumbler brown ale". Mansfield News Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  35. ^ "Sierra Nevada Summerfest". Beer Advocate. 
  36. ^ "Sierra Nevada Bigfoot". Sierra Nevada. 
  37. ^ Brooks, Jay R. (November 2, 2007). "Fresh hop brews now on tap". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°43′29.7″N 121°48′46.9″W / 39.724917°N 121.813028°W / 39.724917; -121.813028