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North Carolina Brewery

Over the Ocean and Through the Woods

Visit our Facebook page to see all of our Mills River construction photos.

Sierra Nevada has always had something of a mellow vibe, but when it comes right down to it, sometimes you just need some heavy metal. And of course, we’re talking about stainless steel!

Last month, a cargo ship arrived at the Port of Charleston loaded with 28 stainless steel fermentation tanks destined for our new brewery in Mills River, North Carolina. The legendary German brewery manufacturer Ziemann International fabricated the tanks. We chose Ziemann tanks for two reasons: we believe they are the best tanks made anywhere in the world, and they’re the same type of fermenters we have in Chico. Mirroring fermentation profiles is a priority in ensuring that the beer leaving both facilities tastes identical; using similar tanks built to similar dimensions removes one more variable standing in our way to flawless flavor matching.

Moving these tanks is no easy feat. Some of the individual fermenters weigh upward of 48,000 pounds and stretch 60 feet long. The tanks were fastened on the ship’s deck during their voyage across the Atlantic and hoisted off by a massive dock-mounted crane.

Once off deck, the fun continued as the tanks traveled the final leg to the brewery site. The Port of Charleston is only 250 miles from Mills River—conceivably a three and a half hour drive—but nothing’s easy when transporting these tanks. After being loaded onto “lowboy” trailers, the tanks had to move at a snail’s pace, often at night, along the back roads of South Carolina into North Carolina to lessen the disruption of other traffic. They moved in convoys of four tanks at a time, travelling with a sheriff’s escort and two bucket trucks responsible for moving power and utility lines out of the way of these majorly oversized loads. The tanks navigated a shifting landscape of coastal flats gradually progressing to the pine covered mountains surrounding Asheville, ultimately arriving safely on site.

Check back next week to see what it took to install these vessels.