A Sierra Nevada love story: how a non-beer drinker fell in love with a brewery

Long story short, I am not a beer enthusiast. I can boast that I have the distinguished title of Beer Master from the Budweiser tour at Busch Gardens, but those days are long gone.

The Center for Sustainable Business Practices scheduled a visit to the Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico, California, on our trip home from San Francisco in early April. I was expecting a company video and a quick tour, ending with a beer tasting. Instead, we were taken on a thorough tour of the factory and grounds where we learned about the numerous sustainability initiatives Sierra Nevada has implemented. For example, the company has a rooftop solar array that aids their fuel cells in meeting the brewery’s energy needs.

We toured the grounds and visited the organic garden that supplies flowers for the site’s landscaping and provides fresh produce for the onsite restaurant. We even saw the beloved composter, Hot Rot, which helped Sierra Nevada divert 99.8% of its solid waste from the landfill in 2012.

The personalized tour ended with lunch at the onsite restaurant with Cheri Chastain, Sustainability Manager. Cheri discussed her work on the company’s most recent Sustainability report, the purchase of Hot Rot, and the benefits of working for a privately held company. Her job spans from feeding food scraps to the composter to imbedding sustainability into the new brewery location in Mills River, North Carolina.

Sierra Nevada is proof that growth and sustainability can go hand in hand. It was an inspiring visit and I am excited to have Cheri as a professional connection.


Written by Kelly Kilker

Kelly is a second year UO MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). She is a running and yoga enthusiast looking to create and manage employee wellness programs. Kelly did her undergraduate work at Florida State University and is from Boca Raton, Florida.