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Future site of Sierra Nevada's East Coast brewery, approximately 90 acres along the French Broad River, 12 miles south of Asheville

32 years after its founding in Chico, California, Sierra Nevada comes to the East.

FOLKS IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA are stoked with this past week’s announcement that Sierrra Nevada Brewing Co. is coming. As reported in Mountain Xpress, Sierra founder Ken Grossman said, “We could’ve gone anywhere and we chose Mills River and North Carolina.”

Sierra’s blog states:

Sierra Nevada began the search for a new location several years ago. The brewery looked at hundreds of potential sites, eventually narrowing the search down to a handful of locations. The list of criteria was long and included quantifiable factors such as ease of shipping and water quality, as well as quality of life issues for its employees. Sierra Nevada has a reputation for a laid-back brewery culture and a love of the outdoors, and the new facility will retain this same tone. The Asheville area offers Sierra Nevada Brewing the perfect confluence of community, recreation and craft beer culture.

Sierra is the second-largest privately held US brewery, and saw sales increase by 8% in 2011. In operating the new brewery — which is also slated to have a restaurant and gift shop — the company will be investing nearly $108 million over the next five years and hire 95 full-time and 80 part-time employees.

This past summer saw intense discussion among local Asheville craft breweries as rumors circulated that both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada had Asheville on their shortlists for East Coast operations (The Coloradan is reporting New Belgium still considers Asheville among its top picks).

Founder Ken Grossman was attentive to concerns raised about unfair competitive advantages in the form of economic incentives awarded to big outside companies (Sierra was given nearly $3.5 million in Henderson County tax breaks and over $1 million in grant money via the One North Carolina Fund), stating, “I understand their concerns. It’s one of the reasons the company decided to locate outside Asheville.”

Post-decision though, people seem fired up about having Sierra here. Wedge Brewing owner noted, “Ken and Sierra Nevada paved the way for the whole craft-beer world.”



About The Author

David Miller

David Miller is Senior Editor of Matador (winner of 2010 and 2011 Lowell Thomas awards for travel journalism) and Director of Curricula at MatadorU. Follow him @dahveed_miller.

  • Hal Amen

    Seems like a lot of positives, but I can’t help but worry for the little local guys, like Nantahala

    • david miller

      yeah, we’ll see. most of the local breweries seem to have pretty dedicated followings.

      i think the bottom line is when it’s several dollars between a case of whatever local and sierra nevada. at least for now, at the local ingles, it’s  just a dollar difference between the two.

      • Ed Avila

        I wouldn’t worry about competition, Ken is very mindful of his place in the world and is known to encourage new brewers.  No this and New Belgium is a win win for the Eastern seaboard from Portland Me. to Florida…yeah baby!

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