BEER SCOUT: Is it summer yet?

CAN'T WAIT: Construction on the new brewery is almost finished.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that the Sierra Nevada media preview last week felt like the first real day of spring. But after winding up an entryway that will make the Biltmore Estate look over its shoulder, after walking into an entire warehouse where the lights are motion-activated and bags of malt are stacked as far as the eye can see, after seeing clusters of brewing tanks so large they won’t fit inside the building, after looking up at a three-story mill and after seeing the canopy of solar panels, is it really a stretch to think that Sierra Nevada might be able to control the weather?

According to Brian Grossman, manager of the Mills River location and son of company founder Ken Grossman, the beautiful weather was a nice touch, but the media day was never meant to happen this early. The brewery scheduled a recycling conference for March, then noticed media members were signing up for a glimpse at the brewery. “So,” Grossman says, “we’re showing off a glorified construction site.”

The brewery itself took up most of the tour. Sierra Nevada expects more than 100,000 beer lovers will soon tour the brewery every year. Many will do so on guided tours, but the brewery will be friendly to self-guided tours as well — meaning many of the processes and people will be visible behind glass from the second story.

There are still no firm dates as far as when the facility will open to the public. However, because the brewery is almost finished, Grossman says there could be tour groups invited onsite as early as July if the weather cooperates for the remainder of the construction. The grand opening will come later. The Big Room, a hub for music and events, as well as the pub and outdoor stages are still very much a work in progress with a target completion date of November.

Until then, put on your safety glasses and enjoy the mini-tour.


About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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