If you’ve only ever had Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, it’s time to educate yourself! The Torpedo room is a very pretty space with lots of light, a reasonable amount of seating, and some fun (beer-related) things to look at (namely Sierra Nevada gear, beer, and beer-making gear). It’s now open till 9 pm every day except Sunday (6pm) and Mon (closed). This makes a big difference since closing at 8 pm used to make visits a little too brief when dropping in after work. The staff members are generally very friendly and helpful and don't mind pouring you a single 4 oz. beer for as little as $2, or letting you taste a few before you decide how to invest your two bucks. These days there are usually a few of their Beer Camp beers on tap – I’ve seen and tried all six there at one point – the 4 oz. pours (e.g. Family Values stout) at $2.50 each are a great way to try them out without investing in a case. But they have many other interesting beers on tap and I recommend you try anything barrel-aged. Last week I tried the barrel-aged City Beer ($4 for 4 oz.) and it was superb; it’s almost 10% alcohol and has a strong bourbon headiness (btw, it’s a New Orleans Coffee Milk Stout). The Narwahl, another barrel-aged stout, is also excellent but so are many of their lighter beers like the Otra Vez (gose) and Kellerweis (wheat). They don’t mind if you discretely bring in food, btw, and if you’re lucky you may see the Dojo Dog food truck outside.
For social and environmental impact I’m giving them 5/5 green stars. Going back three decades, Sierra Nevada began to set the bar on sustainability – not just for breweries but companies in general. They don’t generate all of their energy needs (yet) but have made good strides towards this goal with solar panels, fuel cells, and more recently microturbines (the last two are powered by biogas generated by treating their wastewater in anaerobic digesters). They recover and recycle their carbon dioxide (generated during brewing, required for moving and packaging beer) instead of releasing CO2 from brewing and then purchasing more. They have multiple programs for conserving water such as rainwater collection at their Mills River brewery. They were listed as a platinum level Zero Waste Facility in 2013 since 99.8% of their waste is diverted from landfill. They’ve also addressed packaging (with high recycled content, and recyclability of course) but of course the best way to reduce waste is to drop in to the Torpedo Room to have your growler refilled :-) They run their own compost facility in Chico, and use compost in their estate fields. They even built their own rail spur to reduce trucking miles. The list goes on.
They usually don’t use organic grains or hops though (except for their estate ale), something that Bison in Berkeley and a few others are doing. Organic beers seem to be slow to catch on because they are expensive to make (and for hops there are yield issues) – New Belgium, another great sustainable brewery, withdrew its organic Mothership Wit beer due to lack of demand. Sierra needs to say more about their sourcing of barley and hops, farming practices used, water input, and general sustainability. They deflect this issue (on their website and CSR report) by talking about their own small estate farms instead. Usually the largest environmental impact of beer comes from the agricultural practices used to grow ingredients, so Sierra Nevada needs to better communicate how they are addressing this. They had a “Farm with Your Brewer” program to encourage farmers to use sustainable practices (no-till; dry farming; minimization of fertilizer and pesticide) but I’m not sure if it’s still in practice. So there are still some areas for improvement, but in general Sierra is up there with the best of them (so 5/5 green stars!).
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.