|Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
100 Sierra Nevada Way | Mills River, NC 28732
1 (828) 708-6176
I recently celebrated my birthday drinking amazing beers in Asheville, North Carolina. On my actual birthday, I knew I had to do something epic, so I booked the Beer Geek Tour at Sierra Nevada in Mills River, North Carolina, about 20 miles south of Asheville, just off Interstate 26.
The three hour tour costs $45 a person, and requires advanced reservations. Go to the brewery tours page on Sierra Nevada’s website to purchase tickets. Tours take place on Mondays and Thursdays only at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required.
Sierra Nevada describes the experience as a 3-hour tour into the depths of what makes Sierra Nevada tick. This tour is ideal for beer lovers who already have basic beer knowledge and are looking for a behind-the-scenes look and taste of our facility. The group is small – only 6 people, making it a special experience.
When you arrive, you check in at the tour desk where you receive your name tag, earplugs, and safety glasses. Head up the stairs to a comfortable waiting area, gazing down at an impressive chandelier of beer bottles.
Our tour guide, Josh, greeted our group promptly at 10:30 AM, and we headed down the hall of Sierra Nevada history towards the packaging area. On the way, Ken Grossman himself walked by us, sporting his safety glasses and earplugs.
We walked through the packaging area where we witnessed both canning and bottling in progress. We got a close-up look at the bottling, canning, kegging, and packaging equipment. Josh gave a detailed explanation of packaging and thoroughly answered all of our questions.
After that, we headed to the tasting room to sample some beers. After all, that is why we all go on brewery tours, right? We enjoyed the limited Keller Pils (which was absolutely delicious), Sidecar Orange Pale Ale, and Kellerweis. After that we enjoyed an overhead view of the epic brewhouse (more about that later), the headed to a private room.
Josh gave an in depth talk about the history of Sierra Nevada and the ingredients used in Sierra Nevada’s brews. We first tasted the cold wort, which is the treated water Sierra Nevada uses in all beers. As we talked ingredients, we drank various Sierra Nevada brews to better understand what each ingredient brings to the beer. We enjoyed Nooner Pils, Pale Ale, Stout, Otra Vez, Topical Torpedo, and the latest Bigfoot.
After that, we continued our tour of the facility, visiting the water room, Hoptimus Prime (the tractor trailer that delivers the malt from the train to the brewery), the malt storage room, yeast room, and the cellar where we enjoyed Torpedo Extra IPA right from the tank. We stopped in the hop cooler, where we got to take in the aromas and get our hands sticky with some hops.
The highlight of the tour was walking onto the floor of the 200-barrel brewhouse. The gigantic copper vessels imported from Germany are nothing short of impressive. It should be no surprise that this is where I demanded our group selfie be taken.
Our tour ended in the barrel room, where we received our gift bags full of Sierra Nevada swag, including exclusive Beer Geek Tour branded t-shirts and growlers. Josh popped open a bottle of Trip to the Woods: Barrel-Aged Bigfoot with Ginger to end the tour. To our surprise, Ken Grossman stopped in for a sip and chatted with us briefly. (And, yes, of course I got a picture with him!)
After the tour, we headed to the restaurant where we enjoyed a few more beers, as well as some seriously delicious food. We checked out the grounds and garden, then purchased a few items in the gift shop before heading out.
This was by far the most memorable and exciting beer tour I have ever experienced. It was informative, fun, interesting, special… everything you want a one-of-a-kind brewery tour to be. I highly recommend the Beer Geek Tour to any craft beer geek!