(Chico, CA) – Sierra Nevada Brewing achieves its first organic certification.
[8/19 Update: Failed to mention this yesterday but these bottles will be 750ml and wax-sealed (green).]
[Ed. note: Much of the information below comes courtesy of the recent interview with Brewmaster, Steve Dresler, on The Brewing Network. 90-minute interviews don’t make the most quick and convenient sources of information which is why I’m re-sharing some of it here but the episode is definitely worth a listen. Dresler covers all the bases on Sierra Nevada sustainability, tells a couple stories about the brewery’s history and how Kellerweis started, and gives homebrewers the recipe for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.]
At the heart of the Sierra Nevada story is sustainability. The details are well-documented on the website but the gist: one of the largest privately-held solar arrays in the country (over 10,000 panels), water conservation measures that are above brewery standards and its own rail spur that reduces its carbon footprint. When Sierra Nevada bought land for that rail spur, it also acquired extra acreage to play with so the brewery decided to grow its own barley and hops. Today, Sierra Nevada grows barley on 35-40 acres and grows Cascade, Chinook and Citra hops on another nine acres.
So it’s fitting that some of these sustainability initiatives will soon culminate in a way that a beer drinker can recognize right on the bottle: USDA Organic Certification.
Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale is the first beer to be certified as organic from the brewery. The beer, which returns for a third year now also bears its third name. It was introduced as Chico Estate in 2008 and re-branded as Estate Brewers Harvest Ale in 2009. The first picking of the hops and brewing of the beer was to take place this week, according to Dresler. Despite being “Estate grown,” this is not a limited release. The brewery packaged 800-850 barrels last year which is more than hundreds of U.S. microbreweries and brewpubs produce in a single year. If I’m doing my math right, that is adds up to over 11,000 case equivalents. Look for the beer on shelves next month.
Dresler notes that Sierra Nevada became the first U.S. brewery to make a wet hop beer 13 years ago.