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TheStreet Open House

Sierra Nevada CEO Makes East Coast Beer Run

Though Grossman and Sierra Nevada have shown little sign of letting up, the craft beer world around them has changed dramatically. Maytag left the industry in 2010 after selling Anchor, while the industry itself has experienced double-digit-percentage growth. Sierra Nevada, meanwhile, is now the third-largest craft and regional brewer behind Samuel Adams producer Boston Beer (SAM) and Pennsylvania-based D.G. Yuengling & Sons. Each of those brewers also has large brewing facilities in multiple states.

When Grossman and his family open shop in Asheville in 2014, Sierra Nevada won't be the scrappy craft underdog. It'll be flirting with or surpassing 1 million barrels of capacity, which is unheard of for small brewers who aren't Boston Beer or Yuengling, and opening up North Carolina to other big craft players such as Colorado's New Belgium Brewery. That brewer is reportedly deciding between Asheville and Philadelphia as it considers an East Coast location.

We got Grossman on the phone to talk about Sierra Nevada's growth, its future in Asheville and how he intends to keep his craft brewing legacy sustainable and in the family:

We took some request from readers for the first question and almost everyone wanted to ask about Hoptimum. At 100 IBUs, this is an extraordinarily big beer. It's bigger than your Bigfoot barleywine, which was already pretty heavy and bitter at 9.6% ABV and 90 IBUs.

Grossman: We wanted to make something that was full-throttle, both hoppy and malty.

We've fooled around with a number of recipes over the last few years and we've made a number of different batches. We released a little last year as a single production run and decided this year that we'd release it in a four-pack and make it be one of our three High Altitude Series extreme beer styles.

This is the first one. We're working on a stout that we'll release after Hoptimum and then we're going to have Bigfoot rotate into a four-pack format next year. It'll be a four-month seasonal for each of those.

Can you tell us anything about the stout?

Grossman: Well, we've been making a lot of different ones. It's being modeled around the Fritz and Ken Stout and a couple of other real big imperial stouts. We're still tweaking the recipe in our pilot brewery, so it'll be in that vein.

Does Fritz still collaborate with you on beers?

Grossman: No. I approached Fritz when we were doing our 30th anniversary and asked him if he'd be willing to work with us on our anniversary series of beers. He was very gracious and said "Sure" and we actually brewed those up ourselves.

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