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Sierra Nevada CEO Makes East Coast Beer Run

What is the plan for the capacity of your Asheville, N.C., brewery and what is that going to do to your product's availability on the East Coast?

Grossman: We'll probably be able to do some more fun stuff here in Chico. We're continuing to experiment and come up with some really creative stuff, but it's really tough with as busy as it's gotten.

It's a real stress on our company right now to keep doing things like Hoptimum. We're brewing around the clock and we're just about out of brewing capacity. Once we can relieve some of that, it'll allow us some more breathing room to do some boundary-pushing out of this brewery.

That plant is going to be designed to do more than 300,000 barrels initially and ultimately double or more than double. It'll pick up some of the East Coast volume out of that plant, though we'll continue to ship some beers out of Chico.

We're going to set it up with some open fermenters and be able to do some of the unique beer styles like Kellerweiss and Bigfoot that we ferment in open fermenters. We're going to duplicate that aspect out there and take some pressure off our fermenters in Chico.

What's capacity in Chico at this point?

Grossman: This year we'll be somewhere over 900,000 barrels, maybe 950,000 even. We're off to a really strong first month and a half to two months of this year. Sales are up close to 20%, which isn't too shabby for us. We don't think it will end up being that much for the year, but we're looking at close to double-digit growth for this year.

That's significant growth considering your brewery was producing fewer than 800,000 barrels at the end of 2010. Where is that increased demand coming from?

Grossman: Torpedo has been a pretty significant success. It was up close to 60% last year and it looks like it's trending right about there this year.

We're still growing Pale Ale in most markets, and brands like Ruthless Rye have taken off pretty well as seasonals.
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