Homebrewed Roots

  • Homebrewed Roots
    Ken set out with a simple goal: brew the beers he wanted to drink. He started small, with a homebrew shop, a love of American hops and plenty of passion. In the process, he changed the beer world forever. Decades later, he's still at it, and the passion burns brighter than ever.
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  • 1970A Passion for Brewing
    Ken Grossman learned to homebrew from the father of a close friend. From an early age, he was enamored by the sights and smells of the fermenting jugs of bubbling beer. His first attempts at brewing were rudimentary at best, but began lifelong passion for the art of fermentation.
  • 1972Chico and Beyond
    Originally from Southern California, Ken Grossman joined friends on a cycling trip down the North Coast of California, but first made a stop in Chico to check out Cal State University with his childhood friends who were enrolled at the college. He fell in love with the town and the Northern California culture and decided to move to Chico.
  • 1976Honing the Craft
    Ken opened a homebrew supply store in downtown Chico, simply named The Home Brew Shop. As he got more into the craft, Grossman's brewing became more and more elaborate, and, soon enough, people were eager to sample his new brews.
  • 1977Passion for Hops
    There weren't many hops available for homebrewers in the 1970s, and many were of poor quality. Grossman decided to go straight to the source. He drove from Chico to Yakima, WA, and persuaded hop brokers to sell him 100 pounds of "brewers cuts" - samples sent to breweries to try before purchasing bales. He returned with the whole cone hops and began brewing the hop-forward beers Sierra Nevada is famous for.
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  • 1980Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is Founded
    Grossman began planning a new small-scale brewery based in Chico. He took inspiration from the nearby mountains -the Sierra Nevada mountain range- and launched Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • 1980No Such Thing as Small
    At the time, there was no such thing as small-scale or .micro. brewery equipment. Everything needed for a brewery had to be repurposed or custom built. Grossman spent months driving through rural dairy communities throughout California and Oregon searching out scrap stainless steel tanks and equipment to use. He taught himself refrigeration and welding and fashioned most of the new brewery out of recycled dairy equipment. The fledgling brewery was finished in the fall of 1980, and Ken needed a brew to test out the hand-built equipment. His first batch of beer was an American Stout. In the following decades, the recipe for Sierra Nevada Stout has changed very little from that day.
  • 1980Pale Ale is Born
    Ken knew he wanted to make a hop-forward Pale Ale, but he also knew that the key to convincing people to try the beer and come back for more was consistency. He spent the last of his money and countless months to make sure he could reproduce identical batches of beer. He dumped 10 batches before getting the perfect balance into his Pale Ale, the beer that helped launch the American craft beer revolution.
  • 1981A Reason to Celebrate
    Sierra Nevada was inspired by the tradition of brewing a special beer for the holiday season and brewed the very first batch of Celebration® Ale in 1981. Celebration is unique in that it features the first fresh hops of the harvest season and remains a surprisingly fresh take on the common spiced and sweet holiday ales. Celebration is considered one of the first "American" IPAs and a benchmark of the style.
  • 1983Early Expedition
    Sierra Nevada opened with three beers in their portfolio: Pale Ale, Porter and Stout, and in January of 1983 they brewed their first batch of Bigfoot® Barleywine Style Ale, a blisteringly powerful blend of malt and hops. At nearly 10% alcohol and 100 IBUs, the beer was one of the earliest examples of "extreme" brewing and has remained a cult-classic ever since.
  • 1983Growing Pains
    By 1983, it became clear that Sierra Nevada's tiny brewhouse couldn't keep up with demand. Ken would tweak the small hand-built kettles, increasing capacity where he could, but demand always outpaced supply.
  • 1984New (Old) Brewhouse
    On a tip from an aspiring craft brewer, Ken learned of a beautiful, hand-made, 100-barrel, copper brewhouse for sale out of a defunct brewery in Germany. Ken and his high school friend Dave Sheetz traveled to Germany and helped dismantle the brewhouse piece by piece. The German workers laughed that the Americans would never get it back together. Ken had the brewhouse shipped to California, but it was another three years before he could afford to install it in the new brewery.
  • 1987Our 20th Street Home
    By 1987, Ken purchased property on 20th Street in Chico and began construction on a new brewery to house the 100-barrel brewhouse. This piece of property has been our home in Chico ever since.
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  • 1993Fresh from the Fields
    After speaking with a longtime hop broker, Head Brewer Steve Dresler had the idea to produce a beer using 100% wet hops, plucked and delivered just hours from the fields in the nation.s first wet hop Harvest Ale.
  • 1997Expansion Again
    Sierra Nevada unveiled a new 200-barrel Hupmann brewhouse and expanded cellars in a major brewery expansion. The original coppersmiths who built the salvaged German brewhouse were called out of retirement to clad the new brewing vessels in copper for a matching second brewhouse.
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  • 2000Music is in Our Blood
    The Big Room, a 350-seat auditorium, opened to host live music.especially Americana, roots music, bluegrass, blues and country.
  • 2004Energy Creation
    Sierra Nevada installed four 250-kilowatt co-generation hydrogen fuel cells at the brewery and began down the path to clean consistent energy creation.
  • 2005Back to Homebrewing Roots
    Sierra Nevada added a third brewhouse.this time, a small, 10-barrel brewhouse, built to the exact scaled dimensions of the main production brewhouse.for conducting small-scale brewing, research and development, and limited release beers.
  • 2007Solar Energy
    The first solar panels were installed at the brewery in the first phase of what would eventually become the nation.s largest private solar array. To date, the brewery is powered by over 10,000 individual panels creating over 1.5 megawatts of AC electricity.
  • 2009The Hop Torpedo
    Torpedo® Extra IPA - the first-ever year-round IPA from Sierra Nevada - debuted to raucous reception. Featuring intense hop aroma from the use of Sierra Nevada's revolutionary "Hop Torpedo" this intense hop-bomb was an immediate success. Lack of enough hops forced allocations within months, and the brewery has struggled with demand ever since.
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  • 2014A New Brewery
    Sierra Nevada opened a second brewery in Mills River, NC, to increase brewing capacity and provide fresh beer more quickly to a growing number of fans east of the Mississippi River.
  • 2014Beer Camp Across America
    To celebrate the new brewery, Sierra Nevada launched Beer Camp Across America, a traveling beer festival and the largest celebration of craft beer in history. The festivals began at the Chico brewery and culminated at the new Mills River brewery. Every single US craft brewery was invited to the festivals, and more than 700 came out to pour their beers. Sierra Nevada also partnered with 12 exceptional craft breweries to create 12 different beers for one Beer Camp Across America mixed 12-pack - a first in the craft beer world.
  • 2015Brewing on the East Coast
    Sierra Nevada opened its Taproom and Restaurant in Mills River, NC, marking the completion of its new East Coast brewery. In addition, the new brewery is now home to a Gift Shop, an amphitheater and indoor music venue, and sprawling hiking trails. Nestled on a forested ridge just 20 minutes from downtown Asheville, the brewery is a temple to craft beer in an area where beer has become a way of life. To locals and visitors alike, it is lovingly nicknamed Malt Disney.
  • 2016LEED Platinum Certification
    Sierra Nevada's Mills River brewery was built with sustainability in mind. In 2016, the brewery was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status - the highest level awarded - making Sierra Nevada the only production brewery in the country to earn the certification.
  • 2017Tesla Powerpack
    Always staying at the forefront of innovation, Sierra Nevada installed a 500kW Tesla Powerpack battery system. The Powerpack works in conjunction with the brewery's massive solar array and a Capstone microturbine system, allowing the brewery to more efficiently use the energy it produces. The Powerpack battery charges when energy demand is low, and then discharges when demand is beginning to spike.
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