Woody Wonka and the Beer Factory

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As we neared Asheville, NC, I checked the tour schedule for the Sierra Nevada Brewery. They do five tours a day, everyday, and they were booked over a month out. We would be there in three days. Out of luck? No, this is Woody, and when I want to see the greenest, most environmentally conscious macro-brewery, I throw out names. Names like Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada.

Ashevile, NC

You see, Ken started brewing in Chico, CA and I knew that because I have been to both breweries. I had a Golden Ticket: I simply told the gal in the tour office that I went to school with a guy named Ken. We were on the list for the first tour of the day, the day we pulled up. YeeHaw! So, Hali and I were among about 15 others from all over the country touring this grand facility filled with barrels and barrels of beer. Our lucky day.

When Ken Grossman started with his hand-built, 10-barrel brewing system in 1979, his goal was to brew beer WE wanted to drink. He chose sites in California and North Carolina because of the water – which is about 90% of what’s in beer. Both locations have some of the best water qualities for brewing beer in the world. The motto at Sierra Nevada is People, Planet, Product.

Then there were these guys, hoisting hops, shoveling hops and sweeping up hops. Rarely seen, behind the scenes… within these factory walls were the beer masters, the hoppa-loppas. . .

Hoppa-loppa, hoppa-dee-brew
I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you.
What do we put in our favorite beer?
Malt, hops, and water, and yeast
Just incredible!, to say the least.

Thank you Wonka for this delicious brew.

After taking a big swig of Hazy IPA, Hali makes her request to the Wizard of Wart, I want a hoppa-loppa and I want it NOW!

Wizard of Wart

Come with me and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see
Into your imagination…

Around the corner from the ice cold hop hopper hall, was the nectar of the future. Here’s a view of the brewery’s next top shelf brew.

One of the wonders of Wonka, is his Everlasting Hazy Hopstopper. Currently my favorite IPA. And since we’re talking currents, this was a wild ride through Wonka’s sudsy waterfall of Hazy Little Daze brewski.

Veruca, Violet, and Charlie

We spent three hours touring the massive brewing facility, as warm wort wafted through the grounds of Sierra Nevada. A maze of solar panels, a dog park, trails, sustainable gardens, huge outdoor patio, even the old kettles are simply put out to pasture.

The entire tour was FREE and included nearly two pints of nine samples. Plus, on the way out, our tour guide handed us beer swag: coasters, stickers, postcards, and this bottle opener. . . a lifetime access to the wonders of beer.

Thank you Mr. Wonka. Thank you for the tour, thank you for sponsoring Public Radio, thanks for the beer, and, probably most importantly, thank you for not selling out – YOUR Golden Ticket – to huge corporate beverage conglomerates. Keep tradition in beer, Family Owned, Operated & Argued over, since 1979. Hmmm, that’s the year I met Hali, our Summer of Love.

Whoa, now I’m seeing this more clearly. . .the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in a glass:

About Woody

We are a couple who took the first step toward a life of traveling in May, 2015. Staying within the continental US, we amp'd the adventure-factor by traveling in a VW Vanagon, circa 1985. Our mission is to share irresistible and compelling stories conceived from this lifestyle of travel.

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