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WSJ visits Sierra Nevada in Mills River

Copper kettles imported from Germany are a highlight of the Sierra Nevada brewery. [PHOTO BY PAULA ROBERTS] Copper kettles imported from Germany are a highlight of the Sierra Nevada brewery. [PHOTO BY PAULA ROBERTS]

As it opens for public tours and its fame grows, the new Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. plant and grounds in Mills River are destined to attract more national media attention.

The Wall Street Journal caught up with the $110 million brewery on Saturday for a piece in its Food & Drink section. It credits the Chico, Calif., company with helping to propel the burgeoning craft beer industry in the U.S.
"Craft beer is at a turning point, and Sierra Nevada is once again its pivot—a new kind of craft brewery, demanding a new definition of the term," the Journal's William Bostick wrote. "The onetime upstart's million barrels a year may not quite rival the nearly 100 million produced annually by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, but it's a long way from the 10,000 or so Sierra was putting out in the early years."
The roots and growth of Sierra Nevada have been well-documented in the Lightning and elsewhere. Bostick covers one of the oft-repeated industry saying that accounts for why SNBC founder Ken Grossman pulled the trigger on an East Coat brewery — beer is heavy (and thus expensive to ship).
The Journal's piece also delivers the good news for craft beer aficionados that taking the spreading production pressure between the two breweries means more good stuff.
"So, as these breweries grow, and their flagship beers sail ever farther, they're better able to foster pet projects," WSJ said. "Sierra Nevada's new brewery will allow them to create more of their Pale Ale while making room at both facilities for smaller-scale experiments."
Scott Jennings, the head brewer in Mills River, tells the business publication: "For the past few years there was a perception that we haven't been that creative, but we've just been strapped. Now we're able to get back to our innovative roots."
Read the whole story and view the Journal's slideshow of the Mills River plant here: