The easiest way to have the freshest, most local produce is to grow it
yourself. This is why we farm 2 acres of produce for our restaurant
right next door. We’re able to supply guests with year-round, high
quality herbs and vegetables and topped it off with a small orchard for
stone fruits and citrus. The garden is certified organic by the Oregon
A commercial greenhouse assists with onsite agricultural activities so we
can grow food for the restaurant from seeds and cultivate our own
landscaping vegetation. The greenhouse is accompanied by a micro green
chamber which you’ll find adorning many of our dishes in the
restaurant. These areas are also certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
Hops & Barley Fields
Hops are the backbone of craft beer but most beer lovers have never seen
hops in their natural state. In 2005, Sierra Nevada planted an onsite
experimental hop yard that eventually grew to 10 acres. All of our hops
are harvested and used to brew our Estate Harvest IPA. Our hops are
certified organic by Oregon Tilth as well as Salmon Safe certified.
In addition to our estate hops, we also farm 100 acres of two-row barley,
rotational crops, and nitrogen fixing cover crops. The crops help build
and maintain soil health and the barley is harvested, malted, and
combined with our estate hops for our Estate Harvest IPA. Like our
vegetable garden, greenhouse, and micro green chamber, the fields are
certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
All used fryer oil leftover from making french fries and other fried food
is used to make biodiesel in an onsite processor. The biodiesel is then
used in our fleet of local and long-haul trucks that deliver beer
Commissioned in 2010, our HotRot composter is the first of its kind in
the U.S. This impressive machine turns discarded food from the
restaurant, food scraps from break rooms, and a portion of our spent
brewing ingredients into compost that is then incorporated back into our
agricultural activities. Composting is a simple yet powerful solution to
significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Wastewater Treatment Plant & Biogas Recovery
Brewery wastewater has a high organic content which, left untreated,
would place a heavy burden on Chico's wastewater treatment plant. Our
process wastewater treatment plant, installed in 2002, includes solids
removal, anaerobic digestion, and aerobic treatment processes. This
system removes over 95% of the organic load in the water, allowing the
City to easily handle the remainder.
During the anaerobic phase of the wastewater treatment process, a
methane-rich biogas is generated which provides a fuel source we can use
in our boilers— the workhorses of a brewery— to offset the
use of purchased natural gas.
Spent Grain & Yeast
After the mashing and lautering process, malted barley has done it's job
in the brewhouse and is no longer needed. Spent grain, along with spent
yeast from fermentation, is moved to holding tanks before being metered
into trailers headed for regional cattle and dairy farms. Spent grain
and yeast are rich in protein and provide a nutritional feed for
livestock. These brewing byproducts are fed to animals within about 75
miles of the brewery.
Heat Recovery & Energy Efficiency
The brewing process requires a lot of thermal energy (heat), so we need
to be as efficient as possible while recovering waste heat at every
opportunity. On the front end, our steam boilers are among the most
efficient available, and our condensate recovery system is designed to
retain as much energy as possible in this closed-loop system. On the
back end, our brewhouse recovers heat from our kettle stacks and from
hot wort on its way to fermentation, and uses this heat for generating
hot water for subsequent batches and other hot water needs.
Electrical efficiency is also a high priority for Sierra Nevada and we've
taken steps to reduce electrical usage in almost every facet of our
brewery. Our modern process refrigeration system, installed in 2012,
features some of the most efficient chillers available for a brewery our
size, reducing the amount of electricity needed for process cooling.
Continually investing in lighting and control system upgrades,
automating as many systems as possible, installing high efficiency pumps
and motors coupled with variable speed drives, and creating a culture of
awareness with our coworkers have built a foundation for ensuring
overall energy efficiency.
Our roofs and parking lot is a 2 megawatt
solar system. These two systems provide about 20% of the electricity
to run the Chico, CA brewery. The parking lot solar array tracks the sun
throughout the day for added efficiency and was installed in 2007 with
SunPower panels. The stationary roof top array was completed soon after
with Mitsubishi panels and offers an impressive overhead view of our
Why stop there? We also installed individual solar systems to provide
power for our rail transfer facility, our onsite daycare, and an office
In 2016, we installed 2 megawatts of Capstone microturbines. The system
works in tandem with our solar arrays to provide over 90% of the
electricity needed to power the brewery. The microturbines run on
natural gas and are able to load follow depending on energy needs,
automatically turning turbines on or off. Waste heat from the
microturbines is captured and used to make steam and hot water for the
brewing process, allowing us to get as much energy out of our fuel as we
Tesla Battery System
To reduce spikes in electrical grid demand, we installed a 1 megawatt
hour Tesla battery system which can discharge stored electricity when
our electrical load exceeds our self-generation capacity. When excess
generation capacity is available, the batteries are recharged for later.
This system dramatically reduces our utility costs and adds to the
overall efficacy of our energy generation portfolio.
We own and operate a rail transfer facility two miles from the brewery to
receive rail cars of malt. Rail transportation is cost effective and
incredibly efficient, using less fuel, eliminating trucks from the road,
and reducing packaging waste. Each rail car holds 3-4 truckloads of malt
which are delivered as needed to the brewery and offloaded into our
grain storage silos.
Electric Vehicle Charging
Sierra Nevada was an early adopter of electric vehicle charging and
installed free, public charging stations in 2009. The chargers sat
mostly idle until our founder, Ken Grossman, purchased an electric
vehicle himself. Since then, they have seen a lot more action and have
been upgraded and expanded to a total of 5 chargers available to guests,
employees, and vendors. Currently, we host two Tesla chargers, two
traditional Level 2 chargers, and a fast charger to accommodate anyone
visiting the brewery.
Water Conservation in Bottleshop
The importance of water conservation and efficiency cannot be overstated,
especially in drought-stricken California. Even in our early years,
reducing water consumption and using water more efficiently has been an
ongoing focus. In the bottleshop, we have eliminated water-based
lubricants on the bottling and kegging lines which reduces water
consumption but also wastewater heading to our onsite treatment plant.
We are also recovering the water used to rinse bottles before filling
and reusing that water in the vacuum pumps that dispense beer into the
bottles, saving about 2.5 million gallons of water annually.
We take waste diversion seriously at Sierra Nevada. Our Chico brewery was
certified as a Platinum TRUE Zero Waste facility in 2013, the first to
achieve this level. We source separate as many materials as possible for
recycling to create clean streams for recycling and increased revenue
for high value materials like cardboard and shrink wrap. Excluding spent
grain, we currently divert 95% of our total solid waste from
Drought Resistant Landscaping
Recognizing the severity of droughts in California, we converted
landscaping from water-thirsty lawns to drought resistant, native plants
and replaced ground cover with xeriscapes.
Closing the loop, and bringing byproducts back into production, is
something Sierra Nevada thinks about all the time. Carbon dioxide from
fermentation is a perfect example of this closed-loop thinking. Instead
of venting naturally-produced CO2 from fermentation, we recover it,
clean it up, and send it right back into the brewery to pressurize tanks
and assist in packaging. Recovering our own CO2 reduces operating
expenses as we rarely have to purchase CO2 and eliminates hundreds of
delivery trucks on the road.
Our recovered CO2 also contains less oxygen than commercially available
CO2, improving the quality of our beer.
Electrified Trailer Parking
To protect the quality and integrity of our beers, we keep them cooled
from start to (hopefully) the time it reaches your refrigerator. To
reduce diesel consumption, noise, and emissions, we've installed
electrified trailer parking onsite to power the trailer's refrigeration
units which keep beer cold while waiting to be driven offsite.