Check Out the Sierra Nevada Brewery

If you're a beer conoissieur or want to become one, during your stay in "Beer City USA," you might consider a visit to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, one of the oldest and biggest craft breweries in the country, located right outside of Asheville, NC. Sierra Nevada originated in California in the early 1980's and recently built an East Coast location in nearby town of Mills River.

The winding driveway up to the facility is comparable to the Biltmore Estate entrance lane, and some locals describe the brewery as "the Biltmore of Beer," or "the Willy Wonka of Breweries."

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The Mills River brewery is equipped with a 200-barrel brewhouse, a packaging facility, and a large, friendly public taproom. It offers a few different options for tours, including a free 90-minute tour to and a $30 "Beer Geek" tour. All tours require a reservation in advance, which can be made here. If all tours are booked during your time in Asheville, you can still stroll through the Visitor Corridor at your own leisure, and open during gift shop hours. In the public taproom, Sierra Nevada offers 23 different beers on tap and an extensive sharable plates menu. The food is locally sourced and some items change seasonally. Pretzels, pimento beer cheese and duck fat fries are some customer favorites. img_8642 img_8615 The taproom always offers the year-round Sierra Nevada beers on tap, such as the Pale Ale and Torpedo, but also offers beers specific to the Taproom. A 20-barrel pilot brewery is positioned at the front of the taproom and filters into the three bright tanks in the center of the bar, brewing beers exclusive to the Mills River taproom. Some popular pilot brews have been the Audition Double IPA, the Audition Saison, and a Belgian Brown with raspberries. img_9380

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fire_pit The Back Porch Patio is popular, even in the colder months. You can grab a pint here and drink it in a rocking chair by the giant fire pit while overlooking the outdoor amphitheater, perhaps enjoying the brewery's summer Saturday afternoon concert series. The Back Porch also features its own bar, a separate food menu, bier garden, bocce ball court, kids play area and outdoor bathrooms. Dogs are welcome on a leash. img_8627 In the gift shop, you can find Sierra Nevada camping gear, clothes, cookbooks, beer glasses and of course, bottled beer. The newest addition to the Taproom is "High Gravity," currently open on weekend nights. It's an upstairs space for events, with a patio and full bar and bottle service for when it might be too cold for the Back Porch or when more intimate moments are preferred. And if you go, feel free to bring a bottle or two back for Hill House staff for their after-shift relaxation. =) (Photos courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Anna Norwood Photography)

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