Some people try to visit every famous sports stadium. Craft beer fans? They have shortlists of must-see breweries. And for good reason! Shimmering brew kettles, massive fermentation tanks, the rarest of rare beers to try — craft brewery tours showcase art and science, inspire wonder, and delight your taste buds.
And at our locations in Chico, CA and Mills River, NC, brewery tours take you backstage for in-depth looks at how we started, how we make Sierra Nevada beers, and you just might find your new favorite through educational tastings.
Sierra Nevada Breweries: Why Taste With Us
The rise in craft beer popularity spans decades, and we’ve been there for it all. Ken Grossman founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, and beers like Pale Ale changed brewing history — a generation discovering the glory of hops, and it continues with today’s IPA obsession. A Sierra Nevada brewery tour, then, means you’re at the epicenter of American craft beer; underneath our copper kettles are the roots of this whole phenomenon!
Those passing through Northern California can jump 20 minutes off I-5 for Chico where our sky-high, 800-barrel fermentation tanks say You’ve arrived. (Or maybe the smell of malt and hops guided you in.)
East Coast travelers looking for an Asheville brewery tour will find us nearby in Mills River. Tucked into the woods and embraced by the French Broad River, our brewery basically doubles as a park — walking trails, amphitheater and more.
What To Expect At A Beer Tasting
Our Chico tours and Mills River tours both end with a guided tasting of select beers, from popular styles like Hazy Little Thing IPA to small-batch creations you won’t find anywhere else. And our tour guides know their stuff; they’ll break down each beer style, reach back into brewing history, and dish the inside scoop on all things Sierra Nevada.
Your tasting views are stunning, too. The tour bars in Chico and Mills River are front-row seats to our soaring brewhouses, the kettles whirling with wort and the hops pouring in barrel after barrel.
In fact, our brewhouses are central to most of our tours. Before your tasting, you’ll explore these spaces with your guide, peering into the vessels and admiring their towering columns. But this is only part of the brewing process. Expect visits to our fermentation cellars and packaging lines to see the full journey that raw ingredients take — water, malt, hops and yeast — to become that glass of magic in your hand.
Taste Like A Pro
Notes of this, hints of that — can you pick up the tasting cues on beer menus? If you’re still developing a palate for craft beer, our tour guides will help you refine those senses. With each sampling glass, they will highlight aromas and flavors and explain what’s behind them, whether that’s expressive ingredients or maybe a unique brewing method.
Like how Wild Little Thing uses a technique called accelerated “kettle souring” to get that tart, refreshing smack. Or how dry-hopping adds explosive aromas to Torpedo Extra IPA, Dankful IPA, and others.
You’ll walk away from the tour able to taste like a pro, putting that fresh confidence toward your next six-pack. Hit the Gift Shop afterward to snag your favorite(s) from the cooler!
Craft Beer Tours 2022
Check out the Sierra Nevada brewery tours we’re hosting at each location. Book yours before spots run out, and we can’t wait to take you behind the scenes!
Chico Brewery Tours
- Brewery Tour — See the whole brewing process, from shiny kettles to colossal fermentation tanks. We’ll even pop into our Hop Cooler to get your hands on our favorite ingredient. Wrap up with four educational beer samples.
In Chico strictly for the beer? Beeline it to the Brewhouse Bar, pick your own flight of four beers, and we’ll guide you through the tasting experience.
Mills River Brewery Tours
- Brewery Tour — Navigate the entire beer-making process, including a bird’s-eye view of our sprawling packaging facility. And of course, it all leads to an educational tasting of four beers.
- Beyond the Pale Tour — Explore the life of founder Ken Grossman whose childhood tinkering — dismantling outlet covers, toasters, washing machines — previewed the ultimate DIY dream: starting Sierra Nevada with a hand-built brewhouse and the odds stacked against him.
- Guided Educational Tasting — Just take me to the bar, you say. We can do that. A guide will walk you through tasters of eight beers, sharing their backstories and dissecting each style.
- Trip in the Woods — Lace up your shoes and hike the beautiful, forested property we call home. On this 1.5-mile loop, we’ll admire the natural resources that surround us and explain the importance of protecting them. At the finish line? You guessed it: a beer sampling.