6 Reasons Sierra Nevada’s New NC Taproom Will Impress You
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. opened its East Coast Taproom and Restaurant on an expansive wooded property in Mills River, North Carolina, two miles west of the Asheville Regional Airport and about 20 miles south of downtown Asheville.
From the commanding presence of the 200-barrel brewhouse, to the Taproom and Restaurant featuring more than two-dozen beers and a menu that doesn’t look anything like your typical pub fare, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company built this facility to impress. Here are the six things that’ll stand out on your visit.
6) The Property
For those of us who are used to breweries in, um, “character-filled” warehouse districts or hard-to-find shopping centers next to non-distinct tax attorney offices, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s new East Coast home on 190 acres of land south of Asheville is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Once you turn off busy Boylston Highway, your drive to the brewery features trees, bridges and stone-lined trails. About a half-mile down the path, the trees open up and give way to the shiny new taproom, brewhouse and tanks.
Nestled along the French Broad River, the brewery is hyper-aware of its responsibility to the environment and its interconnectedness to the entire Asheville area. You’ll spot early evidence of the brewery’s green commitment with its parking lot solar arrays. Sierra Nevada says the panels, along with a much larger group on the rooftop, will create 710 kilowatts of power to help offset the energy the brewery itself uses. The company says it’ll continue to parallel green lessons its learned from its home base in Chico, California, to the new North Carolina facility.
4) The Menu
All I could think as we sat in the Taproom and Restaurant just after the first Sunday’s noon opening was the smell of bacon wafting through the air. When I looked at the menu, I realized it wasn’t just bacon, but an olfactory medley of Rabbit Rillettes, Kellerweis Meatballs, Duck Fat Fries and Duck Reuben. There were also veggie options for the beer drinkers who want to rely on beer for their calories.
3) The Taproom and Restaurant
Sierra Nevada said it designed the Taproom to be “a temple to beer,” and they did not disappoint. The wooded surroundings, the big open sky and the wood-burning oven make the Taproom and Restaurant feel like a big, cozy hunting lodge — a very energetic one at that. From a large, family-friendly seating space to the left, combined with high top seats lining the wood-burning stove and the bar means the taproom seats 400, brewery spokesman Bill Manley told GreenvilleOnline.com. The elaborate draft system in the center of the room demands to be seen and respected. It’s a gorgeous piece of functional architecture.
2) Good Company
Sitting at the taproom bar, I got the vibe that everyone else around me was also a beer explorer — a fellow beer traveler who had been counting down days on a calendar until she or he could see the inside of the facility she’d watched go up over Twitter or in local news reports. Everyone had questions about beer, about the facility, and about which part of construction would be finished next (an outdoor patio bar and an amphitheater are in the works). As a woman who lives for a good beercation, I love to be surrounded by similar adventure travelers.
More than two dozen beers were on tap when we visited — far more than one could ever try in one sitting (particularly being cogniscient a drive back to home base hotel in Asheville was looming). The beer in the Taproom is offered in pints (no half pours), flights of four, as well as growlers. The list that weekend included crowd favorites like the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Torpedo IPA, Beer Camp creation Blindfold Black IPA to the Harvest Wild Hop IPA, made with a new wild hop from New Mexico that creates a more melon and citrus flavor over the hit-you-in-the-face bitter than some hopheads are used to. If you were lucky enough to not be the DD, you can dive into the brewery’s big boys, like the plummy Ovila Abbey Quad and the Barrel-Aged Bigfoot Barleywine.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
100 Sierra Nevada Way
Mills River, NC 28732
Taproom and Restaurant Hours
Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 9 p.m.
Tours: Book online in advance