You may have noticed last week that a few of the Riverbend maltsters showed up in an article on NPR about Asheville’s booming craft beer industry. Just how did we end up in the right place at the right time? Well, we were very lucky to spend the day hanging out during brew day with one of our newest neighbors: Sierra Nevada.
Brew Day with Sierra Nevada
We were all pretty excited when Sierra Nevada invited us to come over to their new brewery in Mills River to help brew the Asheville Brewers Alliance collaboration beer. “Tater’s Ridge” is a Scottish-style ale brewed with 1000 lbs. of North Carolina sweet potatoes and 20,000 lbs. of our Riverbend pale malt. The beer will be one of twelve in the Beer Camp Across America variety pack, along with 11 other collaboration beers from some of America’s favorite craft brewers, including Russian River, Cigar City, Oskar Blues, Victory, New Glarus, and Bells, to name a few. Sierra’s head brewer Scott Jennings very graciously showed us around and allowed us to participate in the brew day action.
Though the Sierra Nevada brewery is still under construction, the facility is nothing short of jaw dropping. They’ve been brewing there since the summer, even while hoards of construction workers have been running around painting, laying tile, installing equipment, connecting electrical, rigging up plumbing, and probably a million other things behind the scenes. We got to take a tour of the brewery even though it was still a work in progress.
Brewing on such a large scale was pretty incredible. Sierra Nevada’s 200 bbl. brewhouse is a long ways from a five-gallon homebrew setup! After the grain passed through the hydrating grain mill, it was all automatically pumped into the mash tun, where we got the chance to throw in some of the roasted sweet potatoes.
After the mash, everything was pumped over to the lauter tun, when the grains get separated from the wort.
The wort then goes into a wort collector (where wort can be heated using heat recaptured from the previous batch’s boil), then it’s moved to a boil kettle — all without breaking a sweat! This is where we got to throw in some hops. Buckets and buckets of hops! There were about six of these huge trash cans packed full of hops that went into the brew.
From here the beer gets separated from the hops, cooled down, and pumped into a massive fermentation tank (one of those cone shaped object in the ceiling), where the Sierra Nevada team will monitor the beer as it ferments and conditions.
We can’t wait to see how this beer turns out! Look for it mid-July in the Beer Camp Across America 12-pack and don’t miss the Beer Camp Across America Beer Festival!
Thanks so much to Scott and the Sierra Nevada team for having us over on brew day!