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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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214 Ratings
Ratings: 214
Reviews: 62
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 9.98%
Active Beers: 197
Beer Ratings: 96,610
Beer Avg: 3.85
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
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

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(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 214 | Reviews: 62 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BrewerSooner
1.25/5  rDev -72.9%

BrewerSooner, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of Hollenbeck2
2.95/5  rDev -36%

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.

Hollenbeck2, Jul 24, 2007
Photo of deepchi
3.08/5  rDev -33.2%

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.

deepchi, Feb 28, 2011
Photo of rmargeson
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

rmargeson, Jul 03, 2014
Photo of warmstorage
3.4/5  rDev -26.2%

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.

warmstorage, Mar 21, 2005
Photo of WuBByG999
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%

WuBByG999, Aug 12, 2014
Photo of rderedin
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

rderedin, Mar 22, 2014
Photo of Rubalaca
3.75/5  rDev -18.7%

Rubalaca, Mar 25, 2014
Photo of david18
3.75/5  rDev -18.7%

david18, Jun 21, 2014
Photo of Malted
3.88/5  rDev -15.8%

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.

Malted, Jul 16, 2006
Photo of VegasBill
3.93/5  rDev -14.8%

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.

VegasBill, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of cmgregoire
4/5  rDev -13.2%

cmgregoire, Jul 15, 2014
Photo of chefdave37
4/5  rDev -13.2%

chefdave37, Jan 12, 2014
Photo of Jeremy_H
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Jeremy_H, Nov 12, 2013
Photo of sjrodriguez
4/5  rDev -13.2%

sjrodriguez, Aug 30, 2014
Photo of bakerbill
4/5  rDev -13.2%

bakerbill, Mar 18, 2014
Photo of Slashytits
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Slashytits, Jul 18, 2014
Photo of Ryan82
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Ryan82, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of Mtbfatty
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Mtbfatty, Aug 04, 2014
Photo of RedShield
4/5  rDev -13.2%

RedShield, Sep 04, 2014
Photo of BigB415
4.13/5  rDev -10.4%

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.

BigB415, May 01, 2011
Photo of Fatehunter
4.14/5  rDev -10.2%

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.

Fatehunter, Apr 15, 2014
Photo of rayjay
4.15/5  rDev -10%

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!

rayjay, Aug 11, 2006
Photo of kleffman
4.18/5  rDev -9.3%

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.

kleffman, Jun 20, 2008
Photo of smcdowell
4.22/5  rDev -8.5%

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!

smcdowell, Apr 22, 2005
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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, CA
100 out of 100 based on 214 ratings.