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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Based on:
182 Beers
102,411 Hads
Place Score: 98
Reviews: 68
Visits: 314
Avg: 4.48
pDev: n/a
Taps: --
Bottles: --
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

1075 E. 20th Street
Chico, California, 95928
United States
phone: (530) 893-3520

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @sierranevada

Notes:  Master Beer Listing
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 68 | Visits: 314
Photo of Zorro
4.3/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I do not often get much farther north in California than San Jose. This last weekend I traveled to Redding California to view the Solar eclipse of May 20, 2012.

I had enough time to dash to Chico for lunch and get back with plenty of extra time.

First thing you notice the thing is very big! The brewery is attached to the gift shop and the restaurant and bar.

Parking is problematic, I ended up parking behind the place.

About 2 groups waiting for tables in the restaurant, but I was solo so I just headed for the bar. Inside is all copper and wood and very well maintained, no small thing with copper.

I had the Calamari and fries, technically an appetizer, but for $10 you get a pretty damn big plate calamari and fries. I almost couldn't finish the squid. The fries are of the fresh made variety, nothing from frozen.

Beer prices are VERY low for a brewery like $5 for a snifter of knock on wood and $2.50 for a 1/2 pint Best Bitter.

Service was reasonable for a very busy Sunday.

Checked out the bathroom and they have copper sinks and brass fixtures in there, very different.

I did not get to take the brewery tour they were sold out of all tours before 10:30 AM, plan ahead and get a reservation.

Clean and neat gift shop selling their beers and misc associated items.

Not much to complain about at all, but I do have two annoyances. Brewery tours were sold out and the Parking is problematic, it is a busy place.

I plan to return sometime.

If you are within about 120 miles with a car and have the time to make the detour this is worthwhile destination.

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Photo of bradybeer
4.3/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 5

Last brewery on the trip from Bend back to Santa Cruz County and the 400th brewery I visited.

Located right off the highway and can't miss it with the hop fields and the grain silos.

My wife and I hit the gift shop where I scored a Timbukto SN bag for my 400th brewery.

We got there at 5pm ish on a Friday and got seated with in 10 minutes. The tap room is stunning and you have to see it to believe it. Our seat was above the bar in height and to the side giving us a great view.

I have to say I was disappointed by the beer selection. Of the 9 breweries visited on this trip the selection was nothing special. Yes they had the standard SN line up plus Ovila and Life and Limb 1 and 2. But only three special tap room only brews. One the Draught Pal Ale was one of the best two or three beers on this trip, a Rye PA, and a Kolsch. I expected more as delivered by Deschutes.

Food was exceptional-we split the sausage sampler, the salmon filled pasta shells, and the seafood pasta-top notch.

I would mos' def drive the 4 hours to get here even for a few hours-I wish they would kick up the tap only selection.

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Photo of ojclark
4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The restaurant/taphouse is a very nice room with lots of wood and lots of copper (bartop, taps, even the giant, immaculate air conditioning duct). The waiting area and the area near the bar have a nice view of one of the several brewhouses in the Sierra Nevada complex. The food was good, especially the gorgonzola pasta my wife ordered. I ordered a pizza that was pretty good, but not exceptional. Their beer sampler contained every beer they served on draft, 14 total the night I went (very nice!). The wood-aged Bigfoot was the standout beer, but several of the samples were excellent. Highly recommended.

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Photo of DrunkenMonk
4.28/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Been here a couple times as I frequent the area visiting famiy. Plus I graduated from Chico State. Chiii Coooo!!

This place is top knotch. The dining room is huge with lots of room at the tables, plus a big bar. More restaurant than brewpub.

Great food, excellent beer. My fave is pale ale. And it pairs well with many of their dishes, like the sandwhich I ate.

The gift shop had the usual stuff, but it was set up as its own store away from the restaurant. The external windows on the brewery showcases the huge shiny copper tanks, which you can see as you drive by.

The garden at the adjacent corner lot is one of their garden/hops fields. And you can park right next to it.

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Photo of EMV
4.26/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

My wife and I visited the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico on our way back from the Lassen Volcanic National Park. We'd booked a tour ahead of time (a must) and it's probably the best brewery tour we've taken anywhere. Period. It took about 2 hours... going through all the brewing/bottling/canning etc. and they have a pretty damned impressive setup here. They're pretty eco-conscious and showed off some of their solar power setup (they actually sell electricity back to the grid) and best of all... there was a generous tasting at the end of it. After the tour we had a great lunch and a few more beers at the attached brewpub. This place is a must if you're a beer fan and in the area. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of mckeehn
4.25/5  rDev -5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

My favorite bar. Driven mostly for my partiality to their brand. The tap room is attached to the brewery proper, and one can take tours of the operation, learn about making beer, look and the Sierra Nevada hops garden, drink one or more of any beer that is currently in season, eat a great meal, and buy a few six packs to take home with you, all in one location.

The atmosphere sports a long bar and large restaurant. The theme of "brewhouse" is apparent throughout, with a huge amount of copper fixtures and an open "industrial" feel to the vaulted ceilings. Some of the brewing Tuns can be seen polished to a mirror copper finish. The floor appointments are a beautiful symphony of hard woods and polished brass and copper. The kitchen is open, and you can see the brick oven where some entrees are prepared. The staff is immaculate in appearance.

These people KNOW beer. They really know their beer. Quality of presented beer is always close to perfection.

Service here is usually pretty snappy, though I have been ignored a couple of times. The serving staff is knowledgeable about the beer menu offerings and can make suggestions if you describe what you like.

If you want to drink something other than Sierra Nevada, go someplace else, because that is all they serve. However, they will have each and every beer currently in production on tap and ready to go. This allows you to taste some hard to find oddities that they produce straight from the tap of the maker.

Food. This is actually a high point. The menu is quite varied, and is worth seeking all on it's own. It is clearly take the SO to dinner quality. And certainly, as it is close (Relative actually) to my home town, should I be in it, I have yet to have my mom not jump at the chance to have a meal there; and she is not fond of beer.

Overall the Sierra Nevada Tap room combines my favorite line of regular beers, with a innovative quality menu, wrapped in a wonderful warm brewery atmosphere. It is clear why it is my favorite pub.

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Photo of smcdowell
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I've visited the brewery a couple of times while working in the Chico area. The good folks of Sierra Nevada attempt to establish the "wow" factor from the very beginning, and they do so quite successfully. Easily the most beautiful brewery I've seen, filled with hand-crafted wood and etched glass, and kept immaculately clean. Having a top-notch concert room doesn't hurt, either.

As for the beer, if you drink SN Pale as your "emergency" beer (aka, there are no other crafts on tap), or if you aren't completely sold on it, I would highly recommend going to the brewery, if possible. It will absolutely change your perspective of the beer. I don't know why, but whatever they're pouring out of the taps at the brewery is a far sight better than what's coming out of the Sierra Nevada taps at any bar anywhere else in the country. I also enjoyed the IPA, Porter, ESB, and Barleywine.

The food was excellent. The beef fed with the byproducts of the brewing process was truly a treat, and the desserts are tasty, as well. The only negative I can really say is that they seem a bit cocky about themselves. It's good to have confidence in your product, but a cocky attitude will turn people off in a hurry.

All in all, a great experience for beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike. Enjoy!

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Photo of kleffman
4.18/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Finally got to check out Sierra and their crazy operation. Pulled up and was definitely diggin the hop yard next door and all the solar panels that I assume help power a portion of their facility. Gift shop is intense with every design, and tons of merch for cheap. Even discount items in a bin. Didn't make it in time for the guided tour but we were able to walk around most of the same area apparently. This consists mostly of looking through glass at the equipment, except for the Kettles and whirlpool which you see from an elevated walkway. The floor looked clean enough to eat off of. Impressive. I wish they had been brewing at the time I stopped by.

Then went for some beer and appetizers. Since it's summer they mostly only had the summer beers on. Vienna Lager, Kolsch, Crystal Wheat, Summerfest, and then southern hemi harvest and torpedo. Also tried the brown which was a nice beer.

Had some fries and onion rings both of which were good. Especially enjoyed the fries.

Definitely worth a visit, I'd like to eat dinner there next time.

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Photo of rayjay
4.15/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This happens to be my local watering hole. Many locals won't go here because it's "too expensive," but $2.50 a pint for the freshest beer in town is a bargain to me. Lots of taps, maybe 16 or so.

Very impressive looking bar, brass and high ceilings. Bartenders are friendly. I was not around to see the evolution of the place, but the brewery I see today is impressive and clean.

The beer selection is good. Mostly English style ales, maybe one or two lagers from time to time. I've always thought they should add a bit of diversity to their styles, but they are good at what they do and stick to it. They do almost exclusively "American" style beer (Am wheats, APAs, etc) and the taps are just a bit redundant. The freshness of the beer is top notch.

My big issue with the beer is that is is so filling. You want to drink more than you can fit in your belly. With a little food, it's hard to even finish a second pint.

Try to go on Thursday nights when they *sometimes* have real cask ale. One of the best ones I've had was "PaleFoot" (1/2 PA 1/2 Bigfoot)-out of the ballpark.

Food is good, call it high quality bar food. Vegetarian selections, nice desserts, and good bread baked fresh with oil and balsamic for free. They also make great pizza in a wood-fired oven.

Service is usually pretty good but there's always a chance you get stuck with a new waitress who's never worked food service before (this has only happened once or twice). Long waits for tables on the weekends, so beware. I usually go straight to the bar. Like many breweries, last call is around 9, maybe 10 on weekends, so go during the day.

NO GROWLERS!!! I think this is due to Butte Co. open container laws, though.

I highly recommend this place because it is a sight to see. Also I've always felt that their beer gets a tad stale when it travels, and here you can taste it in it's full glory. See you there!

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.14/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

It was a beautiful day so we sat outside. The inside bar and dining area looked nice too.
Nineteen of their beers on tap with a fairly wide variety between them, though only one "Belgian" style beer. Whatever, all their beers are solid or great.
The service was the perfect blend of normal American style of "bugging-me-every-other-minute-to-ask-if-everything-is-okay" and German "never-approach-your-table-unless-you-are-doing-jumping-jacks-to-get-attention".
The food was great. I would go there just for the food. We had some fries, pretzel and beer cheese and a salad.
The prices were normal for the area. The gift shop has great prices on glassware, $3 for an imperial pint.

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Photo of BigB415
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I decided to drive to Sierra Nevada from Davis pretty much the night before and I'm glad I did. Even though I couldn't find someone to go with because it was such short notice I still had a lot of fun. It was about a 2 hour drive and it was a nice drive up.

The brewery is really easy to find since it's about a minute from the highway. Parking was a little tough since there was a wedding going on but I still managed to find a spot in front. When you pull in first you drive by the restaurant then the office and then the gift shop/brewery. I wanted to do the 4pm tour but it was full so I managed to grab the last spot on the 5pm tour. I had to kill 2 hours so I went to the bar and had a beer.

3.75 for a 16 oz beer? oh ya! great price so I had a glass of the Old Chico since I have never had it and I'm not going to throw down $8.99 for a 6 pack of something I might like at my local store. I didn't have any of the food since I wasn't hungry. I got my beer and sat down in front of the kitchen and watched the chefs do their thing and I talked to the guy next to me for a good majority of the time I was there. I was wearing my Stone Brewing Company shirt which got a lot of comments but none harsh. There are no rival breweries just rival sport teams.

The tour was a lot of fun and very informative. I didn't realize the breweries property was that big. Every building on the property is used and is connected by a huge walkway. Our tour was almost an hour and a half long and the tour guide was very knowledgeable and very nice. She didn't seem uncomfortable leading 15 people around the brewery and trying to answer every question we had which was a lot. Before the tour I went on the self guided tour as well and saw a case with every beer and labels SN has made including all of the bigfoots lined up in the case.

I bought a t shirt and a pint glass in the gift shop. The gift shop people were helpful with helping me find my size. My only complaint about the place is the t shirt price which was 17 dollars but that's not surprising since most t shirts usually cost much.

Next time I go I'm getting some food and some of the special beer they only release at the brewery.

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Photo of Dcbelkot
4.08/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

We paid this fine establishment ,sampeled many beers and had some very good food to pair with em. the wait can be long so be prepaired for a seat. Pretty cool enviroment, the solar covered parking area is very cool.


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Photo of i4ourgot
4/5  rDev -10.7%

Great food, affordable pints, tasters, growlers. This place is beautiful, well decorated, seeing and smelling all the hops and wort being boiled. Almost sensory overload, try to sign up for the tours ahead of time they were booked out a week when we were there.

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Photo of VegasBill
3.93/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

So I finally made it to Chico and SN Brewing. I love the atmosphere in the Taproom, dark wood everywhere and this place is so so clean. I was let down with the tap selection, I thought there would be a lot that I had never seen actually there were only two. I tried the Torpedo to see how much different it tasted on tap and there was a big difference, much better. The menu looked boring to me so no food. This was a Monday and they were quite busy, I was sitting next to a local and we started chatting and he said they are busy all the time. I should back up, this is a really first class operation, covered parking with like a mesh cover and security in the lot, everywhere very clean and kept up, first class.
I did go to the gift shop and bought two bottles of the Brux, a collaboration of SN Brewing and Vinnie at Russian River. When I got home I read the reviews here on BA and they are not good. Maybe I will give one bottle as a gift to my worst friend.

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Photo of Malted
3.88/5  rDev -13.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Sierra Nevada Brewery is a gym in the Chico area. The food and service has gotten better every time I have gone there. The first time I went, probably around 1998 or 1999, the restaurant was much smaller and the service left much to be desired. My date sat on some gum on the bench and the staff responded with "oh" when I told them about it. Since that less than stellar occasion, things have gotten better and better. The last time I went I ordered a tasting sampler of their beer and had a wonderful steak. I have yet to go on a tour of the facilities, but they display copper kettles through a window to the restaurant. The one drawback latley has been that the place has always been very crowded when I have gone. Over all though, Sierra Nevada Brewery is very worth checking out and stopping for dinner. I would also highly recommend the tasting sampler as they have a great selection of beers in the sampler, many of which are difficult to get elsewhere.

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Photo of warmstorage
3.4/5  rDev -24.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Sigh. We centered our brewpub tour of central-north California around Sierra Nevada yesterday, and were ecstatic to finally reach "The Mothership" as we call it. Best thing: $2.75 half pints of the renowned Bigfoot Barleywine. Worst things: a bunch of swill light styles, and loads of loud families drinking pop.

Background: I drink about two six packs a week of Bigfoot Barleywine each year for the ~3-5 months I can get it. I drink an average of two six packs a month of SN Pale Ale. I drink an average of a six pack of either SN Porter or Stout a month. This is total, and doesn't include all the other beer I drink.

I LOVE Sierra Nevada. I believe in it, and will always have a soft spot in my heart for it. Now... that said, the brewery visit itself turned up a lot of crappy beer, and a super crowded family-style dining experience that was highly inconducive to realbeer drinking.

I've visited three times in the last year, and each time, been mildly disappointed in the quality of the beer. As I noted elsewhere in a review of the Best Bitter, I agree with another reviewer that many of SN's brews, available only on tap at the brewery (and maybe kegs?), basically taste identical to one another, and suck. That is, the Best Bitter varied MINIMALLY from the Blonde, the Pilsner, the Wheat, the Crystal Wheat, and the Extra Special Pale Ale.

We waited a little under an hour for a table, which was fine, as it was passed at the bar, with the mediocre bartender rushing by every once in a while. Apparently, a fencing convention was in town, and packing the place in a partial buy-out.

ATMOSPHERE: I used to like the atmosphere; as other reviewers have noted, it's beautiful, but only when empty, and not when packed to the gills with people. Even more unfortunate, a definite majority, and perhaps a supermajority, weren't drinking good beer. Sitting at the bar for almost an hour, we saw MUCH more white wine, Pilsner, and Blonde being poured than anything else. Entire tables, with half kids and half yuppie adults, drank only soft drinks and iced tea and water. WHAT? You come to The Mothership and drink POP? What the HELL is wrong with you? Clearly, many of these tables were full of people who might have been just as happy at TGI Friday's, Chili's, Olive Garden, etc. (we personally witnessed at least eight tables that fit this profile.) It was loud, crowded, bright, and heavy on young children. I (sort of) hate to be ageist and snobby, but this was *NOT* conducive to enjoying and drinking good beer.

The SERVICE was fine, and pleasant, if harried, and busy. No knowledge of the beer was noted, except when the bartender remarked on my drinking pints of the Best Bitter and Extra Special Pale Ale, then tasting Wheat and Crystal Wheat, and finally ordering a Stout. (Explanation: I like to taste lots of stuff, but since almost all the light beers taste thin, boring, and similar, I wanted a pint of something that actually would taste good.)

The FOOD was quite tasty, but let's be serious: I don't come to The Mothership to eat. We had a tasty pizza, and in the past two visits, I"ve enjoyed the organic greens salads, and sandwiches.

The SELECTION is amazing: approximately 17 beers currently on tap, but with limited information provided regarding distinctions between styles: for example, at least three were variants of "pale ale", and they basically all taste the same. I've had the great deal taster ($8 for 2-3 ounces of everything on tap) twice in the last year, and probably fiev times total, and each time, been struck by how little difference exists between the various lighter beers.

The beer QUALITY... well, as I said above, many of the light beers taste very, very, very similar to one another, and basically suck. We drank and tasted the Best Bitter, Blonde, Pilsner, Wheat, Crystal Wheat, and Extra Special Pale Ale, noting only minor distinctions between them. The Pale Bock was also very similar with only a cloying sweetness and hint of higher alcohol to distinguish it, and the Stout and Barleywine were obviously very different.

Of these, the Bigfoot Barleywine was fantastic, the Stout predictably great, and everything else went downhill, fast, from there. My "Quality" score of 2.5 reflects the reality that about five of the 17 beers are outstanding, and about eight are pretty poor for such a competent brewery, with five hovering in the middle, but barely average.

I have taken the self tour in the past, which is indeed entertaining. And yes, the place is pretty. But really: I'm going to a brewpub to drink great beer, and when I can get all the the great styles in bottles, and otherwise only taste boring, bland, thin styles, I'll skip it. While I'll continue to buy loads of SN six packs, I won't bother to drive all the way to Chico again.

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Photo of deepchi
3.08/5  rDev -31.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

This place gets alot of hype, however I beg to differ. They do indeed make some great beer but their food really is bad. First they try to be a upscale restaurant with an upscale menu, but the quality is inferior. Second, if you want some decent brewery type food they fall way short. The choices are limited and the quality sucks. On one road trip in Ca. and Oregon, we went to 6 different Brew Pubs in 7days including Sierra Nevada. The food at Sierra Nevada was second to worst. If you go there alot, it gets really boring. Also the bartenders also frequently seem disinterested. Bottom line, great beer, lousy food. Another problem is, it is way too crowded with ridiculous wait times for seating.

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Photo of Hollenbeck2
2.95/5  rDev -34.2%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3

cool place, chico isn a drinking town and this place is a little too far outside of town to make it a good place to drive to unless you have someone who can drive and not drink. anyway some of the best micro brew beer around, this place is legendary in california and the beers shows it, the food leaves something to be desired but that is seconary to the great beer.

they have the classic pale ale which all other pales are compared I think to a lot of west coasters. good stop on the trail beer of life.

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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, CA
98 out of 100 based on 68 ratings.