Q. How long have you been in the brewing business?
I’ve been in the brewing business for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories include taking rides down the conveyor on the packaging line in Chico. Throughout my teens and early twenties I worked at the brewery off and on in various capacities, and eventually was fortunate enough to become the Co-Manager of our new North Carolina brewery. My father founded Sierra Nevada in 1980, and was home brewing for some years before that.
Q. What was it like in the early days when you were just starting the business?
When my father started Sierra Nevada in the 80s, he owned a home brew shop. He also worked for a bike shop (cycling is another one of my father’s passions, and one of the reasons he discovered and fell in love with Chico). During this time, he was taking classes to learn how to build, modify, and repair refrigeration and brewing equipment since he could not afford to pay someone. He has always been a very hands-on person. His days often merged into one another with little or no sleep. Money was very tight, and on several occasions, he and his partners had to go back to their families to ask for additional loans. He drove around California scrounging for parts, and found much of the original brewery on old closed down dairies or soda bottling plants, which he would load up on his flatbed pick-up truck and haul back to Chico. In the formative years, my father and his partners never imagined that the brewery would become what it is today. They were in it because they loved to brew, and more importantly, drink great beer. As they found out, they were not alone.