Sierra Nevada’s second location (original in Chico, CA) opened a couple years ago in Fletcher, North Carolina which is about 25 minutes south of Asheville. This is another huge facility like New Belgium and definitely a place to check out. They also have a delicious onsite restaurant which is usually packed. Not to mention the amphitheater, fire pit, outdoor activities- all that’s missing from this resort… I mean brewery… is a pool!
By the time we got around to booking a tour, everything but the “Trip in the Woods” outdoor property tour was sold out. And we got the last two spots for that! If you’re heading there, I’d recommend booking way in advance as we were a bit bummed to miss out on the “Beer Geek Tour” which is a facility tour that skips the basics. You are allowed on a self-guided tour along the main corridor, but the building was insane and we weren’t able to access all areas we wanted.
The outdoor tour was still fun and a nice change of pace from a normal brewery tour. It was an easy, short hike (about 2 miles and 2 hours) around the property, however there are some hills/rough areas to get through so make sure to dress accordingly. We actually had to climb over a fairly large tree (on an upwards hill) that had fallen during a recent storm. Also, if you’re scared of bees, start mentally preparing now to walk past their beehive area! I didn’t actually see any bees, but it is quite terrifying if you’re as afraid as I am.
Our tour guide shared some of their initiatives around the property, like solar energy from the parking spots, adding certain plants to ward off invasive species and making the trails accessible (open to the public!). At one point they tried planting a field of barley/wheat, however the French Broad River flooded and destroyed everything.
Towards the end of the tour we had a surprise rest stop with beer. One minute we’re hiking, the next we come upon an outdoor picnic area with our tour guide pulling out cooler stocked with cold cans! We chilled at the picnic tables for a bit and tried Sidecar, Nooner, Otra Vez, Pale Ale and Torpedo. Once we started back up, it was a short walk that led us to the back of the property which was already bustling an hour or so past opening. We went straight to the restaurant and luckily snagged two seats at the bar to eat and sample some more beer.
They have “audition” beers on tap, trying out new recipes to see what’s the next possible beer. We really enjoyed these. The two flights we had included:
- Audition Double IPA
- Audition Saison
- Audition Rye IPA
- Hoppy Lager
- Know Good IPA
- Tropical Torpedo
While I’m honestly not a huge fan of their typical canned beers, I really recommend heading there at least to see the property, building, and of course eat the food. It’s also on the way to the waterfall hike we went on, so grab a beer and snack before you hit the real trails!