The winding entrance to Sierra Nevada’s Mills River Brewery— adjacent to the Asheville airport—is impressive enough on its own to merit an investigative journey. But there’s a host of other reasons why this daytrip might become a family favorite.
Massive in size, yet still inviting, the Taproom—the brewery’s restaurant—seats a boggling 420 guests in an outdoorsy yet industrial environment. Pub-style high-tops offer the opportunity to make new friends over one of the 200 different beers served over the course of a year. A covered patio holds a few of many tables available to patrons, and the bar itself offers seats with a prime view of current beer selections. The perches foodies will most appreciate, however, are the barstools facing the pizza oven, or those looking into the open kitchen.
Hoppy Day // From delectable dishes (like hanger steak with smoked chile pinto beans, salsa verde, and Three Graces Dairy goat cheese) to deliberate design, Sierra Nevada Brewery offers an enjoyable environment to match its world-renowned beers.
Sierra Nevada turned to the Biltmore Estate’s former kitchen manager to create a menu worthy of its magnificent facility. Like the brand’s original Chico, California’s brewery, the goal was to be food-distinctive to the region. Easy access to local farmers and food producers still drives the majority of the menu, which evolves every couple of months.
The best pairing of all might be a craft brew and a talented chef. The sizeable crew manning the Taproom and Restaurant kitchen can be seen pouring charcoal briquettes into wood-fire grills; pulling pretzels and bubbling pimento beer cheese from the open wood-fired oven; stretching pizza dough hailing from the Taproom’s busy bakery; and filling up the countless vessels which hold the menu’s mason jar salads. (Presentation is nished table-side, when the jar is shaken to distribute a mouth- watering vinaigrette over the contents: local greens, roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, house feta, sun flower seeds, and cucumber.) Experimenting with various brew pro les while noshing your way through their shareable plates is a must.
The best dessert of all might be Sierra Nevada’s barrel-aged Rain Check spiced stout. Aged in bourbon barrels, this rich, dark stout has notes of vanilla mingling with the roasted malt and molasses at its base.
SELECT EVENTS AT SIERRA NEVADA’S MILLS RIVER BREWERY
Sample a special cask for one night only. Join friends and fellow brew connoisseurs for the tapping at 4pm. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so get in while the suds are good.
Asheville New Grass
Jam out to this local group, keeping the Newgrass sound alive and well with originals and popular bluegrass tunes.
It joins a heady list of nearly two dozen brews on tap, a broad mix of year-round and seasonal beers as well as a few specialty and high-altitude brews. Barkeeps—all certified beer stewards—are currently pouring IPAs, pilsners, porters, stouts, a narwhal, a rye ale, and a vintage re-release of a previous Beer Camp brew.
Save time to hang out on the Taproom’s vast, sunny Back Porch at the Taproom. Dogs are abundant on this festive patio (which holds fire pits for chilly evenings), and the vibe is definitely family friendly. Be aware, however, that the Back Porch’s limited menu does not offer the same fare you’ll find indoors and on the covered patio. An estate garden, a large stage, cornhole, and all sorts of comfy seating make the Back Porch a summertime essential. With a cold brew waiting after a hike on surrounding trails, you couldn’t ask for a better end to this advantageous daytrip.
The Taproom and Restaurant is generally open from 11am until 9 or 10pm and noon–9pm on Sunday. Check sierranevada.com for hours (which can vary) and a calendar of upcoming events; beer festivals and concerts add even more motivation to point the car north.You can reserve in advance for a guided tour, but self-guided tours are free, fascinating, and offer a well-curated history as well as great views of the plant below.