Posted on March 5, 2012 in History by Josh
From flickr user steve
The Independent has a nice write-up of Sierra Nevada and the history they carry with them. From craft brewing through the early 80s to a coming east-coast expansion made possible — and in many ways necessitated by — the current craft beer renascence, Sierra Nevada is one of a small number of breweries that has a claim that few others can make, no matter how popular or trendy a given beer may be .
Fun and, given what he has witnessed over the past 40 years, pretty amazing too. The United States used to be the world’s biggest good beer desert but the revolution which Sierra Nevada helped create has swept across the country. America now has undoubtedly the most innovative and exciting beer scene in the world and Americans can drink at least as well as their British, German or Belgian counterparts. It’s quite a turnaround, admits Grossman.
“Attitudes to beer have really changed,” he says. “It has been a dramatic shift, and we’ve been a part of that. When we started it was difficult to get a distributor to take you seriously, and the retailers weren’t too interested and the public wasn’t that aware of what we were doing. That’s very different to today, when every distributor wants your beer and retailers are focusing on promoting craft brands and customers are very knowledgeable.”
But the most interesting part of this article comes at the end, where the wise-old brewery may have insight that some newcomers probably hope isn’t true.
And while Grossman predicts tough times for some craft brewers (“Some market places are already pretty saturated: up in the north-west [of the USA], price is beginning to become a driver. That’s probably not the healthiest way for the craft market to grow. Some breweries are struggling to make ends meet – I think there will be a shakeout in the future”), he has lost none of his thirst for Sierra Nevada. Retirement seems a long way off for this 57-year-old. “I’m still having fun, I love coming to work every day,” he says. “There’s a challenging few years ahead of me.” Understated to the last.
The sad thing is that he’s right. The market is growing and everyone is generally friendly right now, but it can’t last. Commodity prices are going to increase, established craft breweries are going to grow more than their smaller competitors, and international craft beer — a tiny piece of the market right now — will begin to put pressure on a lot of homebrewers-turned-business owners in the next decade.
Posted on March 8, 2011 in Design by Josh
Tailgaters and campers rejoice, great news
from Sierra Nevada: later this year, it’s going to be easier and lighter to take their beer with you.
Our canning line should be in the building near July 4. It will be a couple of moths to get it up and running, but should start seeing Pale Ale in cans in late 2011.
We’re on the fence about what other beers to release, but I think we’ll have a couple of different brews available.
Cans will only be a small part of our output, but we’re excited to see how they’re received.
There are so many places where you can’t or won’t bring glass…up here in the foothills it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring a bunch of bottles with you in your backpack! This is really the reason we’re going for this.
Posted on January 18, 2011 in Business by Josh
From flickr user Raymond Barlow
Word is that your favorite hoppy beers could be in for some recipe changes if their brewers didn’t plan ahead and contract for the right amount of hops this year. Rogue points to some news from Beer Business Daily warning that a 30% drop in the American hop harvest could have a negative impact.
The explosive popularity of hoppy beer has become bittersweet as the total American harvest was off 30% for the year, according to December’s USDA hop harvest report. Especially screwed now are those brewers relying on smaller-yield, aroma-centric American hops to make mainstream-barreling IPAs, since Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo are largely (if not totally) sold for the year.
IT SHOULDN’T BE A SURPRISE. Unlike 2007’s sneak-attack, this scarcity was established back in June, according to the BA’s Chris Swersey. That’s when members learned that both acreage and years were significantly down. It’s just now coming to a head, however, as brewers wonder if they’ll have enough of specific varieties.
They point out that Sierra Nevada is already looking toward whole-leaf hops to help fill the gap from a potential pellet shortage. I’m also curious as to what this means for the average homebrewer looking for something like Simcoe hops at their local hombrew shop — probably nothing too terrible, but it’s possible we could see small price increases for the average 5-gallon batch of Joe Homebrewer’s IPA.
Posted on August 26, 2010 in Breweries, History by Josh
New Albion Ale, from Aleuminati
The Washington Post has an article up about the “father of craft beer,” Jack McAuliffe, coming out of retirement to help Sierra Nevada celebrate 30 years of brewing.
As a young Navy technician servicing Uncle Sam’s nuclear sub fleet, McAuliffe found himself stationed in Scotland, where he developed a taste for the indigenous ales. When he returned to America, he couldn’t find any equivalent beer, so in 1976 he used his engineering skills to fabricate his own brewery out of cast-off dairy and soft drink equipment.
New Albion Brewing Co. in Sonoma, Calif., was the country’s first modern microbrewery built from the ground up, a harbinger of the craft beer revolution to come.
McAuliffe marketed an ale, a porter and a stout that attracted national attention, including an article in the July 9, 1978, Washington Post. But he found it impossible to make a living turning out dribs and drabs in his 45-gallon brew house. McAuliffe drew up blueprints for a larger brewery with a pub attached, but the United States was slogging through a recession and bankers weren’t interested in lending him the money he needed to build. New Albion folded in 1982; McAuliffe left the beer business and never looked back.
Working with Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, they produced “Jack and Ken’s Black Barleywine Ale,” which comes in at 10% ABV, so keep an eye out for it.
Posted on August 19, 2010 in Business, Culture by Josh
New Belgium bike (Flickr user JOE MARINARO)
Eco blog The Good Human started looking at breweries and came up with the top five “doing the right thing.” They write…
Human beings love their beer. People all over the world drink well over 100 billion liters of the stuff each year, and I am most certainly one of them that drinks his fill. But did you know that besides the quality that craft breweries exemplify in their beer, many of these smaller breweries are doing the right thing when it comes to environmental sustainability as well? Between installing wind and/or solar power, heat exchangers, and massive recycling programs, these breweries are showing the big brew houses that you can in fact have happy employees, make a quality product, and have a solid profit, all with much less impact on the environment.
Their top five?
1. New Belgium (Fort Collins, CO)
2. Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)
3. Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)
4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, CA)
5. Steam Whistle Brewing (Toronto, Canada)
Interestingly, two are from Fort Collins, Colorado. One of them, New Belgium, is definitely well-know for their environmental friendliness, including the free bicycle given to employees.