Sierra Nevada Brewery Tour

A collage of five images from the brewery tour. Collage includes a hand holding hops, the front of the brewery building, a copper kettle, beer making equipment and beer glasses.
From holding hops to watching ingredients spin around in copper kettles, the Beyond the Pale tour of the Sierra Nevada Craft Brewery immerses visitors in the beer-making process.

You would probably be hard-pressed to find someone who likes beer less than I do. Despite not being a beer drinker, I truly enjoyed the “Beyond the Pale” tour that gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at the Sierra Nevada Craft Brewery in Mills River, N.C.

Our visit to the Sierra Nevada property was part of a long weekend trip we recently took to Asheville, N.C.

The 90-minute tour begins with a video telling the story of Ken Grossman, who created the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and founded what has now become a global brand. 

It was fascinating to hear about the obstacles he overcame to launch the company. For example, he welded together spare parts from an old dairy farm to create one of the first incarnations of the brewery.

From there, we walked the halls where the hops are stored and had the chance to touch, smell, and hold these key ingredients in our hands.

We heard about the intricate process that makes great beer as we peered into the quality control lab, watched as the ingredients spun inside the copper kettles used as part of the process, and looked inside the packing area.

We finished in the tasting room and had the opportunity to sample 8 different kinds of beer. 

Craft beer aficionados (like my husband) will love this tour. As for me, I enjoyed learning about the science involved in making the beer. As a marketer in my professional life, I appreciated the storytelling, branding, and experiential marketing on display throughout the tour and the property. And, I always enjoy a new place to practice my photography skills.

The metallic and glass surfaces of the brewing equipment posed a challenge, as did the limited amount of time available to set up for shots. I minimized reflections by shooting without a flash and finding creative angles. I was also selective in the shots I took to avoid holding up the tour or missing out on some of the experience.

To sign up for your tour, visit this site.

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