Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sierra Nevada is Not a Map Name

Bill suggested a trip to the Sierra Nevada processing plant and got an immediate yes in response. I'm not much of a beer drinker but looking at cool machines and processes I've never seen? That a tour to take.

What we didn't know was that this is so popular the tours this day were not only sold out, but sold out until the end of October. Who knew? We could just wander around, we'd miss the talk and the tasting but we'd tasted at lunch in the Tap Room, so figured we could muddle through.

Off we go
The first thing you notice about this place skimping. The road into the plant is perfect. There are copper lamp fixtures on the way in, along with (and I didn't get this photo, damn it) actual gauges on machines. It's pretty crazy. 

The best I could do, it would have needed a video

This gives absolutely no idea of how nice the way in looks
but it does give some idea of the effort made.
While the plant is huge, it's done so well the tanks look like part of the art of it
The entire parking lot is full of solar panels

The first thing you see on entering the main area.
These might not be working ones, we weren't sure
After getting word about the tours or lack of tours, we turned to lunch. The Tap Room is this tremendous space feeling very out west. Everywhere I looked, some extra little (or not little at all) detail would jump out. Then the menu jumped out. 

My first thought was...meat eater's heaven. At least for me. Bill is not a meat eater but there was still a great selection of possibles for him as well. 
Bill's roasted corn salad. My pancetta smear (their name, not mine).
They were both very good, along with the beer that is only sold
in the restaurant, a lemon something something ale.

What a neat way to serve hummus!

The amazing open kitchen. You can read a lot more about it and the food here.

Just a few beers on tap

Gotta be some good oxygen in this space
Then we were off on our self-appointed tour. It must have been between shifts as only one time did we see machines moving. There weren't many people about either (as in, most of the time, we had the place to ourselves).

Big beautiful machines

The walls are lined with insets holding antique beer equipment. It's a long, long hallway. Where there aren't insets there are windows onto the floor, different areas from labeling to packaging open for viewing. I wish the machines had been active but at the same time, it was easier to study it with the stillness.

Across from the tour people in this beautiful bar getting their tasting, these windows let us in on shoving hops. I'm guessing it's hops. Hey, I'm not a tour guide!

The flasks Bill is in front of were dated the day before and were still burbling

There were a lot of wonderful tools on display

Like this one we couldn't figure out the purpose for. Another mystery.

And then onto the plant itself.

Yes, those are all bottles

It would have been so much fun to see it working!

Bill was observing the large number (almost all) of guys with beards working here. Along the way, we ran into the first guy we'd seen, the one who told us about no tours. Mentioning the preponderance of bearded workers to him he responded, "We call it craft beards here." 

There were a few guys around who seemed to be tinkering with machines

I'm guessing these are spare parts that are needed more often?
Looking up the name of the company on the sign, this is what I found.
If you want to see the machines moving, that is where you go for that.

He filled up a little tube, put in some liquid and then tossed it down the drain.
In about 5 seconds. Then he walked away with a purpose I have no idea about.

A portion of the tasting room

More amazing copper 

The smell of cooking hops is strong here, in a good way. 
Then it was heading back to the quiet world. The mechanic hadn't gotten to the Turtle yet. Breathe in, breathe out. The breathing is good here. 

Have a worty, woody Wednesday. Do something wet-hopped. 

(ok, I have to say this - there is actually a web page with beer terms by alphabet...simply incredible) 


  1. What a great tour you created :) And the place is huge. Once again you got the photos spot-on! Beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Pollyanna! I figure it is only a matter of time until we are asked to do it professionally.

  2. Yes, those are hops. Ashville and surrounding areas are great. At work we have the same bottling machine 500/ minute, it's crazy to see. My buddy just left to work at New Belgium which is also down there. Keep having fun and turtle shells are tough!

    1. I didn't know about New Belgium. Bill's got a friend who is a brewer there, but he wasn't around that day. 500 a minute...that would be amazing to see in action, maybe next time.

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  4. MJ, we are enjoying the trip with you, thanks for all the pics/post.
    Here is the song to sing the next time you are on one of those skinny back-roads:

    Bill & Carole

    1. Funny! I hope I don't need to sing that but if so, I'll have something smiling in my head.

  5. Safe travels to my home state of TN and Chatt. If you happen to travel 40 through Jackson TN, give me a shout out. I would love to take you to our Old Country Store for a meal. You would love it.Lots of photo ops. Scubagirl.

    1. Thanks, Scubagirl! I'll check out on the map where it is and see how it works out.