A Nano Brewery for Big Beer Ideas

The more things change, the more things stay the same. At least that’s what we’ve found at the brewery.

Over the past few decades, Sierra Nevada has added family members, new facilities and hundreds of beers. Although we’ve grown as a brewing company, our biggest ideas always start small.

It’s with this in mind that we introduce a new member to the Sierra Nevada family: the Nano Brewery.

Consisting of just a 20-gallon home brewing system and six small fermenters (all of which fit in a room the size of your kitchen), the miniature brewery is the new baby for our Research & Development Department and a nod to the days when our founder was brewing in a garage.

So what could a brewery that normally makes larger production batches possibly do with such a tiny home brewing system? Just about anything.

“The Nano Brewery gives us the freedom to be much more experimental,” says Chris Baugh of our R&D Department.

The small 20-gallon capacity—our next smallest system brews a minimum of 10 barrels, or 310 gallons—allows us to try out new ideas without losing too much beer if it doesn’t turn out quite right. Without the risk, almost any experiment is fair game: new grains, dry hopping trials, ingredient infusions, bacon beer (just kidding—or are we?).

For the first few rounds, Chris and our team played with dry hop levels to find a whole spectrum of citrus flavors. Soon, he hopes to start utilizing Chico’s local fruits, perhaps starting with those grown at the Abbey of New Clairvaux where our Ovila® series was born.

“I’d love to go up to the monastery and harvest some yeast off the wild stone fruits that grow up there,” he said. The possibilities are endless.

Besides experimentation, the Nano Brewery will also allow us to offer even more beer education. Thanks to the small scale, employees and visitors alike can have a chance to get their hands dirty and dive right in to the beer brewing process.

But most importantly, the Nano Brewery reminds us why we got into this industry in the first place.

“This is a nod to our past,” says Chris. “Ken was a homebrewer; now we’ve come full circle.”

Speaking of getting back to our roots, there’s something else we’re excited about this month. National Homebrew Day is May 3, and we’re gearing up for an epic day of homemade brews. Last year, 8,500 people brewed 17,000 gallons of beer at 383 events across the country to celebrate the American Homebrewers Association’s annual Big Brew. This year could be even bigger.

Between the Nano Brewery opening and National Homebrew Day, we’re all reminded never to get too big for our brewers’ boots. Sierra Nevada was born in a homemade kettle welded out of scrap dairy equipment. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

May 2, 2014 - 2:17pm