10 September 2014 - Best Beer HQ
Craft beer spotlight: Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada’s pale ale was the second best-selling craft beer in the United States of America last year (you can see the complete list here), so it’s fair to say that the American public loves this brewer’s beer about as much as we do at Best Beer HQ.
For the record, the Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Boston Lager was the number-one selling craft beer in the US. As much as we like that beer, we’d argue that Sierra Nevada pale ale is the tastier drop.
The story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company…
The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was founded in Chico, California, in 1979 by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi – two home brewers who wanted to turn their hobby into a business. With $50,000 in loans from friends and family, they set about making that dream a reality – starting with a home brew shop before eventually launching a small-scale brewery.
Their first beer – and still arguably their best and most well-known – was Sierra Nevada pale ale, was brewed for the first time in 1980. The company sold just 950 barrels of beer in its first year – not bad for a start-up microbrewery, but a long way off the 786,000 barrels of beer it sold in 2010.
The number of barrels of beer sold by Sierra Nevada Brewing doubled the following year. It continued to grow and by 1987 the company was selling up to 12,000 barrels of beer per year. That success led to Sierra Nevada opening a new brewery.
Founder Paul Camusi retired in 1998 and sold his share to his partner Ken Grossman, who continues to be involved with the brewery today.
In 2012, Sierra Nevada announced plans to build a second brewery in Mills River, North Carolina, which will increase the company’s brewing capacity and provide fresh beer to its growing legion of fans. It’s expected to be completed later in 2014.
Sierra Nevada’s a craft beer granddaddy
Sierra Nevada is considered one of the first and most influential craft breweries in the United States of America. Some even go so far as to say that they were one of the companies that started the craft beer movement of the 1980s and 1990s, which makes them the grandfather of today’s craft beer movement.
Meanwhile, Sierra Nevada has won plaudits for its environmental sustainability – even being named the Green Business of the Year by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2010. The brewery itself is powered by solar energy, the company’s delivery trucks use biodiesel and, to top it off, Sierra Nevada is the largest buyer of organic hops in the United States.
It seems the company is as good to the planet as its beer is tasty.
Sierra Nevada beers
Sierra Nevada’s flagship pale ale is available all over the West coast of the United States, and has started to make an appearance in countries as far away as New Zealand and Australia. Sierra Nevada’s porter, stout and Torpedo ‘Extra’ IPA are also available year-round in the US.
Meanwhile, Sierra Nevada also puts out a number of seasonal beers – including Summerfest pilsner, Celebration Ale, Ruthless Rye IPA and Flipside Red IPA. The company has also been known to issue special release beers – including a Southern Hemisphere beer featuring hops from New Zealand.