Sierra Nevada Brewing execs in Asheville—again

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company executives dropped by the Thirsty Monk last night, Nov. 17, while visiting Asheville on a site-scoping tour. More accurately, it was a family visit.

Spotted while visiting Thirsty Monk were CEO and founder Ken Grossman, his son Brian, who is the Chico Area general manager, and Brian’s fiancée, Gina. Rounding out the scoping team, but not out-on-the-town that evening, was Ken’s wife, who was reportedly back at the hotel taking care of a young family member.

Ken and Brian said no decision has been made yet as to where the company will site its planned East Coast brewery, although Buncombe County continues to be one of the potential locations.

Brian explained that picking a site is a big decision and involves many parameters, key among them being finding a place where he can raise a family.

This is Ken’s third visit to Asheville in as many months.

Brian expressed excitement about Asheville Beer Week next spring and said he plans on attending.

Thirsty Monk owner, Barry Bialik, who was tasting lambics with this reporter when the Sierra Nevada group dropped by, was impressed with the Grossmans’ extensive knowledge of lambics, even though Sierra Nevada doesn’t brew that type of beer. “Both the father and the son are very knowledgeable of the chemistry and yeasts involved, and their passion for beer is clear,” Bialik said.

“There we were, the publisher of Mountain Xpress and the owner of the Thirsty Monk, tasting our various lambics, while the weekly knitting group socialized in one corner and a group of lesbians carried on in another — and then the owners of Sierra Nevada drop in. It was an Asheville moment!” declared Bialik.

For more about Brian and his involvement with the family business, read his New York Times account in 2010.

My father has been reducing his duties as he moves toward retirement. At some point, the family will sit down and discuss what roles my sisters and I will have in future years.

My father never pushed us to work in the company, but he has worked so hard at this that we feel a responsibility to keep it going. Each of us owns a percentage of the company.

Our family is very close, so working in a family business is a plus for us. If you’re not close to your family, it just wouldn’t work. There’s so much to discuss that if you don’t get along, it would make life impossible. I’ve heard stories about things that happen in other family businesses, such as a father having to fire a son.



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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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4 thoughts on “Sierra Nevada Brewing execs in Asheville—again

  1. Barry Summers

    Uh oh. That sounds like the family I barfed on after I left Jack of the Wood. Sorry. My bad.

    Hey, at least I said ‘Welcome to Asheville’.

  2. Barry Summers

    I felt so bad, I went out & bought my first sixpack of Sierra Nevada… My word, it’s delicious.

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