Sierra Nevada at 30: Brewery to honor roots, pioneers

Thursday, 21 January 2010 00:00
sierranevada_optBY JOHN HOLL

Only a few days into the first year of a new decade and already there is a lot to look forward to in the world of American craft beer.

Among the notable events is the 30th anniversary of Sierra Nevada. The brewery recently announced plans to celebrate with a yearlong celebration that will see a partnership with other craft breweries and brewing legends.

"We wanted to pay tribute to the original pioneers who helped me and hundreds of others get started," Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman said in a statement. "Few people in the craft-brewing world have accomplished more than these guys, and we thought it might be fun to get the original crew together and make something special."

So, in March, the first of four beers in a series of collaborations will be released. First up will be between Grossman and Fritz Maytag of Anchor brewing.

Fritz and Ken's Ale will likely be a stout, said Bill Manley, spokesman for Sierra Nevada, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit libraries of Maytag's choosing.

A portion of the beer sales for all the styles will be donated to charities selected by the participants, said Manley.

The beers will be widely available throughout the Garden State both in bottles and on draft.

In June Grossman will partner with Jack McAuliffe, founder of New Albion Brewery to produce a yet to be decided beer. By the end of July a beer brewed with beer advocates Fred Eckhardt, and Charlie Papazian will hit the shelves.

Finally, in late October, Sierra Nevada expects to release its fourth beer, a "Brewers Reserve" created by the brewery employees.

"Without the help that these guys gave me in the early days, I never would have gotten started," said Grossman. "Each of them has shaped craft beer in some meaningful way, and without them, who knows what American beer would be today?"

All of the anniversary beers will be available in 750ml cage and cork bottles and on draft around the country, said Manley. Each will receive about a 1,000 barrel run.

Sierra Nevada has also launched a website,, to document the beers and offer a behind the scene look at the process.

Manley said there are plans in the works for a nationwide toast on Nov. 15 – the brewery's actual birth date – with additional details to be released later in the year.

2010 will also see some changes in the regular offerings from Sierra Nevada, including the soon to be released Glissade, a Golden Bock with 6.4 percent ABV. Manley also said that the annual Anniversary Ale would be replaced for 2010 (because of the 30th anniversary beer) with a still to be determined style.

"This is going to be a big year for us," said Manley.

John Holl writes about craft beer and the culture of drinking. He may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or