We drove into Mills River on a sunny 62 degree Thursday morning to arrive at the beautiful gates of Sierra Nevada Brewery when they opened for the day.
The trail leading to the brewery gets you really excited: you pass thru the shiny gates that lead to a long road thru a wooded area with copper shaped hop cones displayed on both sides of the path. When you emerge from the woods, you see the magnificent brewery in sight. Giant clouds of steam billowing from the top, the whole area smells of bubbling wort. Side note: is there a candle that smells like that yet? I want one.
Check out these bike racks made with the shells of Sierra Nevada kegs. Adorable! This side of the brewery leads to the restaurant/taproom area. More on that part in a little bit!
We were lucky enough to fit into the 11am tour as opposed to our scheduled noon tour. The "Brewhouse Tour" is 90 minutes long with a free tasting at the end. You start off by watching a video about the Grossman family and how Sierra Nevada came to be while enjoying a small pour of fresh-to-death Pale Ale. Delicious. Then, you start your journey into the back-of-house. Lots of different corridors that lead to various parts of the brewery, you might get lost if you didn't have a guide!
My favorite part: the hop cooler! Several giant bins of hops in a climate controlled space, we got to reach in and rub the oils out of fresh bales of Cascade....my hands smelled great the rest of the day! Don't worry, you let the hops fall into a bucket...they don't get used for brewing. What a wonderful smelling room!
We also got to see the impressive copper mash tun and kettle up close and personal. The copper is just for looks which is understandable, but they are still amazing. They had a brew that morning, so we got to peek in on the wort boiling and saw some hop additions.
Next, we got to see the infamous "torpedoes"! These are the mechanisms they use to infuse their hoppy beers with all the hop goodness. They fill the torpedo full of hops and run fresh beer right thru it. Hence, where the beer "torpedo" gets in name.
The next photo is a display of all the beers they have brewed up to date at the Mills River location. Not too shabby!
We also got to see their packaging department and how much Pale Ale they make for the market. Spoiler alert: it's a lot!
The tour of the brewhouse was awesome because you got to see all the behind the scenes workings of the brewery. Keep in mind, it is a tour that also teaches you how to make beer, which is something I am very familiar with. Next time, I'd like to go on the tour for the more advanced beer drinker. At least this tour ended with a flight of their beers!
The beers are so incredibly fresh it'll give you a whole new appreciation for Sierra Nevada. Even the simplest of beers, like the Nooner, is so ridiculously fresh that your mind will be blown. All of the beers are poured into proper glassware too, mind you.
After the tour ended, it was about 12:30pm which meant LUNCH TIME! Ben and I had worked up quite the appetite, not to mention we had been gawking over the brewpub menu for weeks!
We decided to get a bunch of small plates to share so we could sample a little bit of everything: the lamb ribs, chicken wings (recommended by our tour guide), duck fat fries, lamb tartare, and the pork belly. All of the dishes were excellent and gorgeously presented! I would have to say the tartare was my favorite, but everything was delicious.
This concludes the part of our day spent at Sierra Nevada!
Thank you to the whole Sierra Nevada staff for being so accommodating during our time there. Everyone is so helpful and happy (can you blame them?). What a wonderful place to work!
I also think it's really cool the Grossman family are still sole owners of both breweries. Congrats to them on such success.
Next time we go, I'd like to spend more time in the backyard of Sierra Nevada. They have lots of rocking chairs by fire pits you can enjoy. There's also an amphitheater and outdoor bar! It was a little chilly during our visit, so there wasn't much going on back there.
Just another reason to go back, right!?
Cheers, my friends! Thanks for reading.
Welcome to my blog! I want to show the world a simple meal paired with craft beer can elevate their dining experience to unique levels. Cheers!