This should be a pilgrimage for beer lovers. It’s the Beer Bucket List equivalent of getting to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Sierra Nevada is a brewery of monumental importance, an original craft brewer, the brewery which can be credited with giving us the archetypal American Pale Ale, the brewery which has built one of the most modern and yet timelessly handsome brewhouses, the brewery focused on a sustainable approach to beer, and also one that is always at the forefront of new technology. I could write this entry about each of those points, or all of those points, but I’m focusing on drinking a pint of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale at the brewery in Chico. That’s the essential Beer Bucket List tick.
Sierra Nevada Brewery Drink Pale Ale, One Of America’s Most Important Beers Photo Gallery
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is probably your favorite brewer’s favorite beer and it’s probably the most important American craft beer ever brewed. It’s the classic American craft beer and as important today as it was when first released in 1981.
American Pale Ales were barely a thing before Sierra Nevada decided to brew an adapted version of an English ale recipe, one with a toasty, toffee-ish malt body, and then to add a newly released American hop called Cascade, including a decent dry-hop to emphasize the floral, grapefruity Cascade aroma. We take this kind of beer for granted now, even overlook it as being old-fashioned, but there was almost nothing else like it in America all those years ago, certainly not in a commercial brewery. Today, it’s both an important classic and a great modern Pale Ale.
When you get to the brewery, there’s a range of tours available, including the regular one (which is free) and includes a generous amount of beer at the end. The brewhouse is the kind that makes you coo, with old German-built copper kettles being the star attraction, although just as unforgettable is the hop room, an undeniable entry on the Top 5 Best-Smelling Things in Craft Beer list, where huge bales of whole-flower American hops are broken apart by hand.
After the tour, go to the taproom where you can pick from the 19 beers on tap and a food menu of pub classics. Have a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale because it will be at its freshest and you might also get two options: the regular draft-style Pale Ale, which is 5.0% ABV, or a bottle-strength version that’s only found there. You should probably get both.
Sierra Nevada is an essential brewery to visit. It’s one of those places that demands you dedicate at least a day to it. Don’t make other plans, don’t try and visit other breweries or bars. Just go on a brewery tour and then sit in the taproom for as long as possible, drinking as many beers as possible. There are few places that are more important, or greater to visit, than Sierra Nevada’s Chico brewery.
WHAT: Sierra Nevada Brewery
HOW: Free 90-minute tours run Monday to Thursday, 10am-6pm; Friday to Saturday, 10am—7pm; and Sundays, 10am-6pm (www. sierranevada.com).
WHERE: 1075 East 20th Street, Chico, California 95928, USA
Having opened in 2013, Modern Times quickly established a well-earned reputation for exceptional beers.