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Sierra Nevada CEO Makes East Coast Beer Run

Is there still room to expand Sierra Nevada's U.S. footprint or is it more about expanding presence in existing markets at this point?

Grossman: We're pretty much distributed throughout the country, but we have some pockets of the country where our distribution isn't what we'd like to see.

In some cases it's just the distribution channel we've selected. They're not performing as well as we'd like to see and in some cases we may be with wine distributors or distributors who aren't as focused on outlets like beer bars and other areas that require a different service level.

We're always evaluating where we need to invest our time, energy and dollars to help build those distributors' markets and boost share in the growth of the brand.

I'd imagine it takes quite a bit of research to determine the best location to invest in a brewery that's going to increase your capacity by about 65% or so. What drew you to Asheville? Was it the business environment in North Carolina or the beer community that picks up its beer at Bruisin' Ales and helped brewers like Highland Brewing, Green Man, Pisgah and a bunch of other breweries get off the ground?

Grossman: It was a combination of a number of factors. We looked at a lot of cities and states around that area that worked well with our markets in terms of where we were growing and where we saw our future growth.

The Asheville area worked well for both the Southeast and Northeast market share we're developing. We like the community. There's a beer awareness and it's a fun and eclectic town that we thought would be a good place to land. It's got a lot of outdoor activities, and a lot of our employees like to hike, fish and kayak and do those kids of outdoor sports. Cycling's real big there, so it fit as far as a town we wanted to live in and have our families stay.

My son is planning on moving out there with his wife.

Your son Brian, Sierra Nevada's general manager, is going to run the Ashville brewery. Each of your two daughters have worked for Sierra Nevada in various capacities as well, and all of your children own a percentage. What is it like to have one of the few legacy craft breweries and how do you feel about handing the business down to the next generation?

Grossman: You just hope they don't screw it up.

My oldest daughter has been involved since she was in junior high school. My middle daughter as well. She just had her second child, but she's planning on coming back in a full-time role here shortly. My youngest, my son, has been involved since before he went to college and after and his dream is to continue on in the brewing business, so I'm going to try to help all three of them stay engaged and hopefully be successful.
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