A Road Trip to Sierra Nevada Brewery- Chico, California
A 90 minute drive north of Sacramento is the town of Chico. Known mainly for a famous California State University being located there, Chico is also home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, one of the earliest and most influential microbreweries in America. Founded in 1979 and built from the ground up by homebrewers Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, today it is one of the largest independent breweries in the country.
Unsurprisingly, the brewery in Chico is massive. Despite its great size, its carbon foot print is small. So small, that Sierra Nevada won the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s “Green Business of the Year” award in 2010 for its sustainable practices. Take a seat outside in the beer garden and you will see and learn why.
Photovoltaic panels, covering the roof tops of the brewery’s buildings and parking lot, provide the brewery with solar power. The company has its own biodiesel processor to convert cooking oil from its brewpub into biodiesel for its trucks. Spent grain is sold to local farmers in the Sacramento Valley. Water left over from the brewing process is recycled through the brewery’s own water treatment plant, then pumped to its adjacent hops and barley fields for irrigation.
In addition to the brewery’s beautiful design and construction, it is a great place to spend some time if you are a beer lover like me. All of the classic award-winners, and more, are poured at the three different bars at the brewery. The brewery is open daily for tastings, and there are six different brewery tours available, including extensive ones. You can learn more about tours on their website.
What I Drank: Kellerweis Hefeweisen (4.8% ABV/15 IBU), 2012 World Beer Cup Silver award winner. A traditional, Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, it is smooth and creamy, with a tasty hint of clove spice. As a seasoned fan of Hefeweizens, I can safely say this is the best one I have ever tasted. Drinking it where it was made was an amazing experience.
Likes: Deliciously fresh beer. Friendly, welcoming, professional staff at every part of the brewery. Plenty of parking. Clean restrooms.
I highly recommend a visit to this magnificent brewery. It is truly worth traveling for.