Location: Asheville, North Carolina
General Description: When Sierra Nevada decided to open a major brewery in North Carolina, they decided to create an attractive and responsible installation. Along with the many vats and digestors of a major brewery they have designed a beautiful structure for visitors made with large native timber. The facility has a strong sustainability theme throughout to reduce their environmental footprint. This emphasis extends beyond the brewery facilities to the surrounding forests which are managed for sustainability as well. Within the brewery there is a large restaurant which features fresh vegetables grown on the site, along with three taprooms. You can even order a beer and take it with you on a self-guided tour of the brewery with corridors looking down on the actual operations of making and packaging.
1) The Sierra Nevada Brewery is a very beautiful structure with a rustic feel to the massive building. I would strongly recommend ordering a beer before heading out on the self-guided tour of the brewery. There are multiple exhibits about the history of the company and technological changes over the years. You can also look down on the brewing process, as well as, packaging lines.
2) Eating a meal in the restaurant is also an experience as all the food is served group style, so you can order a few items to pass around to everyone and then order a few more until everyone has had enough. It was an interesting way and pleasant way to eat in a large group like ours. You get to try a number of very good and interesting dishes on the menu. All of the items on the menu are interesting and non-traditional and as much as possible, they use vegetables grown in the gardens out back.
3) After eating, you need to visit the area behind the brewery or take a hike in the forests. Behind the brewery is a large amphitheater where they have live music during the summer season, all the gardens, and even a sandbox play area for young children. Unfortunately, it had snowed the day before we visited and it was still too cold to spend much time outdoors.