Visit our Facebook page to see all of our Mills River construction photos.
As we were looking for sites for a second brewery, we had a list of “must haves” from the start—things like great water, and access to shipping and raw materials. There was a second list, though, that was slightly less firm but important to us. We wanted a place with a great music scene, for example, and a good quality of life. Also alluring was finding a spot outside of town with a quiet vibe and a natural setting. The place we finally chose—Mills River, North Carolina—has all of the above.
Sierra Nevada has always had a connection to nature and our natural surroundings inspire everything we do. Our affinity for the outdoors works as a release from the day-to-day demands of the beer business and a great outlet to step back and gain some perspective about what we’re doing and why. When it came to a second brewery we wanted to have that cornerstone of who we are accessible to our family in North Carolina just as it is at our home in Chico. In Mills River we’ll literally sit surrounded by nature in another mountain range, not too dissimilar from our California namesake. Although we have nearly 190 acres of forestland, only a small fraction will be developed into the brewery proper. The rest will be maintained, but left wild, open and free.
With our Mills River brewery we have the opportunity to bring this natural setting right into the brewery experience. We want visitors to see our inspiration first hand and live it the way we do—with the hustle and bustle of a brewery hard at work, knowing that open spaces and nature are just outside the doors.
Although the visitor portions of the new brewery won’t be complete until 2014, we’re already working on making it feel like home. Landscapers all over the site are diligently removing invasive species that have crept into the woods, replacing them with new trees, wildflowers and other species that will work into the natural landscape organically. Using recovered slabs of local granite, we’ve built walls that will prevent erosion while highlighting the lush approach to the brewery. We’re crafting quiet open spaces where visitors can relax. This careful design moves forward even as machinery and construction rage on around the site.
These plants take time to settle in, grow roots, and become established with their surroundings. We feel that the same can be said for the brewery itself. North Carolina is a new environment for us. We want to settle in, grow roots, and become a part of our new community as well.
Eventually, the cacophony of construction will quiet and be replaced by the busy bubbling of the brewery in full stride. By then there will be roots, and we suspect you’ll come to know why we still look outward for our inspiration.