The nation’s second largest privately held craft brewer is expanding to the east coast. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company announced they will open a new brewing facility in Mills River, North Carolina.
The announcement ends months of speculation about Sierra Nevada’s expansion plans and is a reflection of not just the explosive growth of the craft beer market but an indication that its main players are investing for the long-haul.
Sierra Nevada founder and CEO Ken Grossman says the company looked at more than 200 sites east of the Mississippi before settling on the North Carolina location. The long-rumored move east was driven by Sierra Nevada nearing capacity at the company’s original brewery in Chico, California.
Sierra Nevada brewed more than 800,000 barrels last year — nearly 25 million gallons — and with a maximum capacity of one million barrels at its Chico facility, the company needed to expand. The company distributes to all 50 states and expanding to the East Coast will reduce cross-country shipping costs. But for a company that prides itself on its environmental practices (enough to be named the EPA’s “Green Business of the year” in 2010), reducing its carbon footprint also was a key factor in expanding East.
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