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Sierra Nevada Continues Partnership with Bitburger Brewery

Taylor Laabs

Collaborations are commonplace across the craft beer industry, but collaborations that bring together breweries from across oceans are special. Back in 2015, Sierra Nevada started its popular annual tradition of collaborating with a German brewery on a traditional Festbier made available across the U.S. The 2019 Festbier came as part of a collaboration with the historic, family-run Bitburger Brewery. Now, the two are back at again with a new collaboration set to release in March: Triple Hop’d Lager. 

Sierra Nevada was founded in 1980 and is considered one of the oldest craft breweries in the U.S. Bitburger Brewing came to be in 1817, yet is somewhat considered one of the newer members of the older German brewing guard which has been around for centuries. While Sierra Nevada and Bitburger are separated by over a century of experience and more than 4,000 miles, they are connected by their family-run traditions and desire to innovate within their respective markets. Their 2019 Festbier creation was a perfect rendition of the brewing excellence both strive for and has since sold over 25,000 BBLs since its release late last summer, according to Sierra Nevada/Bitburger. That is a massive return for a one-off collaboration beer. 

Stemming off the success of their Festbier collaboration, the two decided to partner again. Although the Chico, California-based brewer has done these German Festbier collaborations since 2015, the new Triple Hop’d Lager represents only the second time the Californian brewing stalwart has brewed again with one of its German collaborators. The first was the Braupakt Hefeweissbier brewed in collaboration with Weihenstephan back in 2018. 

“After our successful collaboration last year, we knew that we wanted to partner again with Sierra Nevada,” says Dr. Stefan Meyna, brewmaster at Bitburger. “Our brewing philosophies, commitment to using quality materials and keeping our loyal customers at the forefront are completely in sync.”

For the first collaboration, Meyna, along with Bitburger’s member of the managing board and seventh-generation co-owner Jan Niewodniczanski and fellow brewmaster Stefan Hanke flew to Sierra Nevada’s North Carolina outpost to brew the Oktoberfest-style beer. This time, Sierra Nevada’s Brian Grossman and Scott Jennings flew to Biturger’s home of Bitburg, Germany, to return the brewing favor in December. 

Sticking to their roots, the two brewers conspired on an easy-drinking lager with a solid hop character that should help it stand out from competitors. True to its Triple Hop’d name, the hop combination of the new beer incorporates a trio of American hops (Cascade, Centennial and Chinook) and Bitburger’s proprietary Siegelhopfen hop blend sourced from a farm just a few minutes away from the German brewery. The result is a beer perfectly representative of each brewery and the unique partnership they’ve formed through their shared commitment to making quality beers regardless of geography. 

“It was a privilege for us to work with the Bitburger brewers on the Festbier collaboration, and to be able to work out a second project with the Triple Hop’d Lager is the icing on the cake. We’re proud to have the opportunity to brew together in the beautiful Bitburger brewery and meet the team there, and we’re very excited about the project and the beer itself,” says Scott Jennings, Sierra Nevada brewmaster.

Will this be the last time the two brewers get together for a collaboration? It’s hard to tell, but I believe there could be potential for more given how closely knit these breweries seem both in beer and brewing values. 

Triple Hop’d Lager is set to release in cans and on draft across Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution footprint in March. Cheers! 

Feature image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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