Chico’s Sierra Nevada Brewery
The Sierra Nevada Brewery is a great place to visit. They have gotten quite massive in their 30+ years in existence. Located in the heart of Chico, the brewery does an excellent good of playing the host. It’s open Sundays thru Thursdays from 11 to 9, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 10. On their website they have some cool interactive pages that share their history. Basically, though, it comes down to this excerpt: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was founded in 1979, with founders Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi expanding their homebrewing hobby into a brewery in Chico, California. Along with the brewery’s location, Grossman claims the company’s name comes from his love of hiking in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. With $50,000 in loans from friends and family, Grossman & Camusi rented a 3,000-square-foot warehouse and pieced together discarded dairy equipment and scrapyard metal to create their brewing equipment. They later were able to acquire second-hand copper brewing kettles from Germany before moving to their larger, current brewing facility in 1989. The first batch brewed on premises was its Pale Ale, in November 1980. The following year the brewery introduced Celebration, an IPA, which it continues to release as a winter seasonal. The company sold 950 barrels of beer in its first year, and double that amount in the second. Pretty impressive, right? Tours are also available and are best booked ahead of time because there is a limited amount of spaces. If you forget, there is a self-guided tour that is open for anyone and everyone. The upstairs starts with a lot of antiques such as old bottlers and temperature gauges that used to be used in the brewery. A section called The Big Room is actually a concert hall. Not a bad use of the space. You’ll also encounter several walls of beer bottles organized by when they were manufactured. It’s a great display of the company’s past. Probably the best part is the observation deck. Walking out onto it, you will see the huge copper vats. They are rather beautiful and add a special touch to the brewery’s character. What’s more, there are copper plaques and wall art to show the process of brewing beer. The gift shop is pretty typical, but includes some interesting mustards and the game beer monopoly. There is also a restaurant on site, with both spacious indoor and outdoor seating. Beers are served European style, meaning that you choose 4 different types to try and can pick another 4 after you have finished to first samples. There are more than 15 options, which gives a lot of fun varieties. Here are some recommendations:
- Tumbler—the perfect summer brown ale with a unique malt taste
- Ovila Garden—Belgian flavor in a golden beer. It’s a bit fruity and peppery at the same time.
- Old Chico—a wheat beer that goes down easy