Sierra Nevada – Mills River, NC

One of the things about being a beer geek – people tend to ask you where they should go to grab a drink. Usually, I’ll just tell people that you really can’t go wrong, and that your favorite might not really be my favorite. I say usually, because when someone asks about Asheville, North Carolina I tend to recommend pretty loudly that you visit Sierra Nevada when you’re in town.

The brewery is located about 20 minutes outside of town – but it’s worth you heading out for an afternoon (or even longer – especially if the weather is nice). People have referred to this as the Taj Mahal of Beer… and it’s easy to see why.

The Experience

Heading down the road to the brewery you pass through rocky, wooden North Carolina beauty. The winding driveway is landscaped beautifully and walking trails snake through the massive property. Rounding a corner you come up on the brewery which looks like a mountain lodge dedicated to creating our favorite beverage.

The brewery has a great restaurant inside it, with upscale food that is designed to be shared with your friends or family. There are plenty of taps to pour some of the best and freshest Sierra Nevada beer that you’ll ever try on this side of the country.

Outside is a massive green space that includes patios, fire pits, an amphitheater and even a fenced in sandbox for the kiddos. Easily, this is the best place to sit outside and have a drink that I’ve ever seen at a brewery. It’s like Sierra Nevada has been thinking the whole time since they opened their doors in California about what the experience would be like if they had no restrictions – before creating it here.

The Tour

A bit of advice if you’re visiting… take a tour. Get some friends together and plan out an afternoon to take a tour. The attention to detail doesn’t just stop at the gorgeous copper kettles, and the tile work in the brewhouse. It permeates every aspect of this brewery and you’ll walk out afterwards a fan of everything that these guys are doing.

A Bigger Plan

There is a lot about the brewery that is more than meets the eye. From their dedication to reusing rain water in their brewing process, to allowing runoff to seep through the parking lots pavers instead of heading into the wastewater system. To call these folks “environmentally conscious” is an extreme understatement.

They even push employees and taproom visitors to be environmentally conscious by riding bikes with a massive series of bike racks in front of the taproom.

And if you think that they must have destroyed a lot of trees when excavating for the construction of the brewery… you’d be partially right. While yes… trees were cut down, they made an extreme effort to destroy as little as possible, replant, and they even reused every tree cut down in the building of the structure itself.

It’s no joke.

Fitting In

When Sierra Nevada first started planning on building in the community of Asheville, North Carolina, they first called together a meeting. They got all the current breweries together – explained their plans, and in short, asked if it was ok.

It’s not normal. It’s not needed, but it does show how the brewery does things differently than “normal”. They take the extra step to make sure that they can stand up for all the things that they believe in at their core, and it shows in all aspects of what they’re doing.

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