What I learned at Beer Camp: NC Brewers Guild director shares top ten lessons from Sierra Nevada trip

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Executive director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild and co-founder of ncbrewing.org Win Bassett shares his top ten takeaways from “beer camp” in Chico, CA–learning firsthand about Sierra Nevada culture and its plans for the future.

Backstory here on Sierra’s Nevada’s outreach effort involving bringing local brewerati to Chico for a total immersion into the inner workings of the brewery.

Is this a taste of what WNC and Mills River can expect from Sierra Nevada?

I thought my summer camp days were over until I received an invitation to attend Sierra Nevada‘s famed Beer Camp at the end of June. I traveled to Chico, California, with a contingent of brewers and brewery owners—all from the Asheville area of North Carolina—who made the trek to the headquarters of their soon-to-be fellow neighborhood brewery.

So, in David Letterman fashion, here are the top ten things that I learned at Beer Camp about Sierra Nevada’s efforts to make their operations more environmentally friendly:


5. Homegrown food

Sierra Nevada helps raise its own herd of cattle (that feeds off of the brewery’s spent grain) with Chico State University to supply beef for its on-site restaurant. The brewery also maintains its own organic garden that, in the summer and winter of 2010, yielded around 4,000 pounds of produce for the restaurant.

4. Water conservation
Not only does Sierra Nevada treat all of its wastewater so the city of Chico doesn’t have to, but the brewery captures 100 percent of the methane produced in this process and uses it to fuel its boilers.

3. Employee transportation
Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman split his time between a homebrew shop and a bike shop in Chico before founding his brewery. That cycling culture has not disappeared from the brewery over the years, and I saw an unprecedented amount of bikes around the facility during my time at Beer Camp. Along with an incentive program for employees to bike to work, Sierra Nevada also was one of the first companies in the country to install networked charging stations for electric cars.

2. Compost system
Sierra Nevada recently installed the country’s first HotRot, a dumpster-looking system that takes in just about any waste from the brewery—from the actual brewing process to the taproom and restaurant—and outputs compost for the hop field and organic garden.

1. Hop farm
Sierra Nevada maintains an eight-acre, certified-organic hop farm adjacent to the brewery. It grows Cascade, Chinook, and Citra hops that are used each year in Sierra Nevada’s Estate Homegrown Ale, one of the few estate ales in the world.

Click over to read Bassett’s full article here.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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