Beer Birthday: Steve Grossman

Today is the 65th birthday of Steve Grossman, the Beer Ambassador at Sierra Nevada, and co-founder Ken Grossman’s older brother. “Steve grew up in Southern California, where he and his younger brother Ken learned about the art of home brewing. Steve continued to homebrew throughout college, and when Ken founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, Steve’s passion for craft beer was immediately put to good use. In the early years of the brewery, he helped establish the Southern California distribution network, and was involved in direct sales. Today, Steve works with Sierra Nevada’s international export program, and serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for the brewery both domestically and abroad. Steve also serves as a director of the brewery’s wildly popular Beer Camp, which brings people to Sierra Nevada for a unique and intensive hands-on beer education.” Steve is a terrific ambassador not just for Sierra Nevada but for craft beer more generally. Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

Sierra Nevada head brewer Steve Dressler with Steve at GABF in 2006.

Steve manning the Sierra Nevada bike bar at GABF in 2010.

Steve checking out some hops at Beer Camp #93.

Steve at an event at Four Point Sheraton in L.A. (purloined from Facebook)

Historic Beer Birthday: Steve Harrison

Today would have been longtime Sierra Nevada employee Steve Harrison’s 66th birthday. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in August of 2007. He was Sierra Nevada employee number one, and was responsible for a lot of their early success. I first got to know Steve in the mid-1990s when I was the chain beer buyer at BevMo. He was a terrific person and universally respected and beloved in the industry. Sierra Nevada had to hire two or three people to take over his responsibilities. Join me in raising a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Steve’s memory today. Here’s to you, Steve.

The last time I saw Steve was at a CSBA meeting in San Diego in 2007, though we talked on the phone a few more times after that because he’d asked me to do some freelance work for him shortly after that CSBA meeting. You can almost make him out in the photo below. He’s in the middle, toward the back, in a blue shirt. He’s in between Tom McCormick (in a green shirt) and a man in a black shirt raising his glass below the giant boulder in the background.


A very young Steve, at right, with Michael Jackson and Lou. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf, from the Celebrator Beer News.)

The Steve Harrison Memorial Arch, which is at the northern entrance to the Steve Harrison Bike Path, which is located not very far from the brewery in Chico. (The photo was taken in 2010 by Jack Peters, and sent to me by Miles Jordan. Thank you, gentlemen.)

Beer Birthday: Terence Sullivan

Today is the 49th birthday of Terence Sullivan, the former Field Educator and assistant brewmaster at Sierra Nevada Brewing, though he recently had a new title bestowed on him: Product Manager. He’s been with the brewery nearly forever, and in recent years has become one of their ambassadors, traveling the country representing the brewery at numerous events, as well as coordinating Beer Camp. He’s also a terrific person and a great guy to have a pint (or six) with. Join me in wishing Terence a very happy birthday.

Brian Grossman, Tom Peters and Terence Sullivan outside Monk's
Brian Grossman, Tom Peters and Terence outside Monk’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week 2010.

Me and Terence Sullivan, Beer Camp coordinator, assistant brewer & field educator
Terence and me at a Sierra Nevada beer dinner a few years ago.

Giving a tour of the brewery during our SF Beer Week beer camp in December 2010.

Pi Bar's Rich Rosen with Sierra Nevada Brewery's Terence Sullivan at Sierra Night
Pi Bar’s Rich Rosen with Terence Sullivan at Sierra Night at Pi Bar during SF Beer Week 2011 (photo purloined from Beer by BART’s Steve & Gail, from their Flickr Photostream).

Me and Terence on stage at the Chico Beer Camps Across American festival two years ago, raising a toast to Fraggle.

Time-Lapse Bigfoot Fermentation

Here’s a very cool video of Sierra Nevada’s annual Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale being brewed in open fermenters. The video shows 12,400 gallons of barley wine fermenting “over six days in four traditional open fermenters.”

First made in 1983, Bigfoot has been released every February since, and will again be much easier to find than the real Bigfoot this coming February, as well.


Sierra Nevada To Open Taproom In Berkeley

Wow, this is big news. Grub Street has the exclusive news that Sierra Nevada Brewing is planning on opening a taproom on Fourth Street in Berkeley, and will be located at 2031 4th Street, by University Avenue. Someone from the brewery told them that “it will be a full-time tasting room with food, though there won’t be a full brewpub or restaurant.”


I learned the following details from Sierra Nevada. They will operate the space, which they describe as “a small unit alongside other streetside venues.” They’re looking to open later this year, assuming all permitting, licensing, construction, etc. goes smoothly (do they ever?). They anticipate serving light snacks like pretzels, so it appears the focus of the place will be more on “enjoying and learning about the beer.”


Q&A With Ken Grossman

This is a fun little video, apparently Sierra Nevada “[t]hrough Facebook and Twitter recently invited anyone who had a question for Ken Grossman to toss it our way. He combed through them and had fun answering a few in this video, and he typed up several others at” their blog, in a post entitled Your Questions for Ken Answered. Enjoy. [Note: For some reasons the graphics with the questions are displaying right now, but hopefully that will be fixed soon, but the answers are still there. For now, you can play Jeopardy.]

Beer Camp #93: Celebrator 25th Anniversary Double Pale Ale

In anticipation of the 25th Anniversary of the Celebrator Beer News magazine, which takes place this year, we decided to make a special beer to commemorate our silver anniversary. So in December of last year, the largest Sierra Nevada Beer Camp took place when eighteen writers for the brewspaper assembled in Chico, along with state Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro, who leads the beer caucus in Sacramento, got together at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to make a beer. Our intrepid chronicler, Mike Condie, put together this great little 15-minute video of our Beer Camp.

The beer we made will be available at locations around the country starting around now and through SF Beer Week. Each writer at Beer Camp got to find a home for his or her kegs in their hometown. For example, my kegs will be at Taps in Petaluma and as a guest tap at Russian River Brewing.

The beer we made is essentially a Double Pale Ale, based on the original Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We then imperialized it and changed the hop bill, with an eye toward reflecting past, present and future symbolically with the hops. For past, we of course used Cascades, for the present we chose Citra and for the future an experimental hop with no name, only a number. The beer finished at 9.3% a.b.v. Look for it during SF Beer Week events. It will also be pouring at the Celebrator 25th Anniversary Party at the Oakland Marriott on Sunday, February 17, the final big event of the 2013 beer week. Perhaps I’ll see you there.


Sierra Nevada Announces Asheville Head Brewer

Sierra Nevada Brewing announced today that Scott Jennings has been named the head brewer for their new brewing facility near Asheville, North Carolina. Jennings has been brewing for Sierra Nevada since 2001, and in addition to his role as Research and Development Head Brewer, he also ran the brewing side of Beer Camp, which is where I first met Scott a few years ago.

Scott (in the glowing red jacket) discussing what beer to brew at Beer Camp #41.

According to the press release:

“Scott is an incredible asset to Sierra Nevada,” said Brian Grossman, co-manager of the North Carolina brewery. “He’s had his hand in developing some of the brewery’s most popular beers, and has been instrumental in the creation and innovation that has stemmed from the beers in our Beer Camp program. His technical brewing skills are first-rate, as is his ample creativity. Under his brewing leadership, our North Carolina location will be in great hands.”

Scott joined Sierra Nevada in 2001 after visiting apprenticeships with Young & Co.’s Brewery Plc. “The Ram Brewery” in London. He holds a Certified Brewmaster certificate from the prestigious brewing institute VLB Berlin, and specializes in technical brewing and recipe development. Working under Steve Dresler, Sierra Nevada’s longtime Head Brewer, he did the primary recipe formulation for popular Sierra Nevada beers: Kellerweis, Ruthless Rye IPA, the Ovila Abbey Ales series and countless limited edition, Beer Camp, and small-batch beers. Steve Dresler will remain as Head Brewer in Chico, and Scott’s new position will oversee all of the brewing, fermentation, and filtration at the new Mills River facility and will be instrumental in commissioning the new brewhouse.

In January, Sierra Nevada announced that it was expanding its brewery with a second facility located in Mills River, North Carolina. Once online, this new facility will provide needed capacity for the brewery and will help facilitate distribution to customers across the eastern United States more quickly and with a smaller environmental footprint. The facility is expected to employ more than 100 people, and be operational by spring 2014.

Congratulations to Scott on his promotion.

Scott Jennings tasting us on Ovila Dubbel from the tank, months before its offical release.

Ken Grossman Presents The Sierra Nevada Story

Our last day at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp last Friday, we were invited to their last quarterly beer dinner at the Big Room at the Brewery. Executive Chef Micheal Iles created an impressive five-course dinner, which each course mimicking one meal of the day, so that in essence we ate a day’s worth in one meal. You can see a photo gallery of the beer dinner below.

And as cool as the dinner was, the real treat was a presentation given by Sierra Nevada co-founder Ken Grossman. Throughout the dinner, in between courses, he told the story of how Sierra Nevada Brewery began, complete with slides. By complete happenstance, I happened to be sitting on a riser directly in front of the presentation, so I set up my Flip camera and taped most of it. The talk is separated into 8 parts, since that’s how the presentation was given. It’s just over an hour, and part one is below.

To see the rest of Ken Grossman’s presentation, I set up a page with all 8 videos embedded, The Sierra Nevada Story. Enjoy.

Sierra Nevada Beer Dinner Photo Galley