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Visit Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada Brewing NC

The best brewery tour we've taken so far! Sierra Nevada Brewing Co in Mills River, North Carolina features a beautiful, eco-friendly campus, award-winning craft beer and so much more. This brewery is a must visit when you're in the Asheville area.

If you saw our post about Asheville, North Carolina, then you know that Asheville is known as "Beer City". Historically, Asheville has been home to a lot of small craft breweries producing all kinds of craft beer. But the area's good beer isn't just limited to Asheville. Just a short drive away, you'll find the east coast brewery for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Driving onto the Sierra Nevada Mills River Brewery property had us impressed right away. Their campus is absolutely gorgeous with mature trees and winding roads. The company has put a lot of effort into the reforestation of this property and it shows. This is a fantastic facility!

A Brief History of Sierra Nevada Brewing

Sierra Nevada was founded in Chico, California in 1980 by Ken Grossman. The name of the brewery is said to have come from his love of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first brewhouse was built by hand using recycled dairy equipment. The first batch of beer brewed by the new Sierra Nevada Brewery was a stout, followed soon after by the now famous Pale Ale. It is considered one of the first American style IPAs.

Despite expanding the west coast facility over the years, keeping up with production demands continued to be a challenge as interest in craft beer grew. Rather than expanding their California facility yet again, Sierra Nevada decided to take a different route... and that road led them toward Beer City USA. In 2012 founder Ken Grossman's son, Brian Grossman, opened their east coast production facility in Mills River, North Carolina. Today, Sierra Nevada Brewery is still family owned and operated.

Over the decades, Sierra Nevada has become a leader in the brewing industry when it comes to sustainability and reducing impact on the environment. The restaurants at both of their breweries (California and North Carolina) serve food grown in their own organic gardens. They capture rainwater and use it for flushing the toilets and irrigation. And the roof of much of the brewery is covered in solar panels.

Hearthside Grove

Sierra Nevada Brewery Tour

There are a variety of tours available at the Mills River Brewery. Tours are offered every day. Check the brewery website (the link is below) for current brewery tour options and pricing.

At the time of this writing, facility tour options include:

  • Brewhouse Tour - 45-minute tour offered daily. Price $9
  • Frontiers of Flavor: Innovation Beer Flight - 30-minute guided beer tasting offered on some days. Price $12
  • Beyond the Pale Tour - 90-minute tour offered daily. Price $25
  • Trip in the Woods Hiking Tour - 2.5-hour tour offered on some days. Price $30
  • Hop Head Tour - 90-minute tour offered a few days in August. Price $35
  • Beers and Blueprints - 2-hour tour offered some days in September. Price $35
  • Beer Geek Tour - 3-hour tour offered on some days. Price $75

We have visited a number of craft breweries and micro breweries across the country, and have toured several. But we have never visited a brewery that offers as many tours as Sierra Nevada in Western North Carolina! We took the Brewhouse Tour. While 45 minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time for a complete brewery tour and tasting, this was by far the best brewery tour we've ever taken.

Our tour guide went into great detail on the history of Sierra Nevada Brewery, the brewing process, and why they chose Mills River NC as their second brewery location. She answered questions as we ventured into the hops cooler, walked up to the giant copper kettles, and got a real-time look at the bottling and canning operations. The tour ended with an educational tasting of 4 Sierra Nevada beers (some of which are only available here).

Educational Tasting After the Tour
Educational Tasting After the Tour

While reservations are not always required for guided tours, they do sell out. We made our reservations ahead of time to be sure that we could take a tour. When we checked online, only one slot was showing as available for the tour that we wanted to take. We called the brewery and were able to purchase 2 tickets over the phone.

Self-Guided Tours are also available without a reservation. While you won't learn all of the back story, have a beer sampling, or have up-close access to nearly as much as a guided tour, the free brewery tours provide an overview of the facility.

Tips for Visiting Sierra Nevada Brewing in North Carolina

This stunningly beautiful facility on the banks of the French Broad River is a very popular attraction amongst beer lovers, especially on weekends. Although they have a good size parking lot, plan to arrive early so that you won't have to wait for parking.

While we're talking about beautiful grounds, this facility has one of the most beautiful beer gardens we've ever seen. Plan to spend some time outside if the weather is nice.

Plan to eat while you're here. The Mills River Taproom is a full-service restaurant on the first floor. There's a bar and snack bar area with a limited menu above it. The grounds also feature the Back Porch, an outdoor area to relax with a small menu. Non-alcoholic beverages are also available.

The Sierra Nevada grounds are gorgeous and the story behind this facility and its use of resources is impressive. Take the time to enjoy the surroundings and learn a bit about what Sierra Nevada is doing to protect the natural resources while you're here.

The grounds also include an outdoor amphitheater. Check the brewery's website for its live music schedule.

Sierra Nevada is said to be the largest buyer of organic hops in the United States. We were amazed by how many different hops we saw in the hops cooler. Hearing about why each style of hop is chosen was very interesting. We highly recommend choosing a guided tour that includes a visit to the hops cooler.

Closed-toe shoes are required for the brewery tours.

If you want to take a bit of Sierra Nevada home with you, stop by the brewery's gift shop for everything from t-shirts to six-packs of Sierra Nevada beer.

Yep! We Visited the Gift Shop!
Yep! We Visited the Gift Shop!
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Where Near Asheville Is Sierra Nevada Brewing?

πŸ“ You'll find Sierra Nevada Brewing Co near the Asheville Regional Airport, 17 miles from the Asheville NC Visitor Center at 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Mills River, NC 28732.

For More Information on Visiting Sierra Nevada Brewery in North Carolina

Visit the Mills River NC Brewery section of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company website.

Also In The Area

If this tour wets your whistle for local brewery tours, consider checking out the Asheville location of New Belgium Brewery while you're in town. We didn't make it to New Belgium on this visit, but it's on our list for another Asheville brewery tour next time we're in town. You'll find New Belgium on the banks of the French Broad River as well in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina just 16 miles from Sierra Nevada Mills River.

We really enjoyed our visit to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Mills River, North Carolina. This is truly a first-rate production facility. Put it on your list of things to do next time you visit Asheville!

A Few Photos from Our Visit to Sierra Nevada Brewing Near Asheville

Welcome Center
Welcome Center
In the Hops Cooler
In the Hops Cooler
The Copper Kettles Room
The Copper Kettles Room
Below the Huge Tanks
Below the Huge Tanks

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Tom and Stacie

Tom and Stacie Langland
"RV America Y'all"

Hey y'all! We are Native Texans and (since 2018) Full-Time RVers sharing the adventures, challenges, and joys of RV life as we travel. We love camping and hiking in State and National Parks, discovering history, visiting interesting and quirky places, and exploring small towns. We're on a mission to experience life, not just live it with our dog, Star, and our cat, Astro. You can also find us on our original RV travel website, Thanks for joining us as we RV America Y'all!

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