KEN GROSSMAN

MASTER BREWER

The tradition of bold personality in contemporary American brewing goes back to 1979, when Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi founded Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California. As Grossman recalls, “When the craft movement started back in the late 70s, early 80s, there were about six brewers . . . and they were all real characters. I was one of them.”

Sierra Nevada has arguably gone on to become the single most influential (and third largest, according to the Brewers Association) “craft” brewery in the United States. Despite the size of his brand (Sierra Nevada now produces over 1 million barrels per year), Grossman still has the universal respect of the beer industry because of his uncompromising commitment to quality above all else.

When Sierra Nevada Pale Ale launched 40 years ago, Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder and original brewer created the United States’ most influential craft beer. Crisper and with a stronger hop presence pale ale paved the way for the bracing, bitter brews that became American craft beer’s trademarks. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was a revolution poured into a 12-ounce bottle. “We intentionally brewed something that would stand out,” Grossman said, “Ninety percent of the people who tasted it thought it was way too hoppy.”

Forty years later, Sierra Nevada is a 1-million-barrel-a-year enterprise. The country’s third-largest craft brewery, after Yuengling and Boston Beer, it is distributed in all 50 states, across Europe and Asia. The company is celebrating this year’s anniversary with 40, a West Coast IPA, and by brewing a hard kombucha. Still, Grossman’s attention isn’t wandering far from his roots. He regularly samples beers from his breweries in Chico and Mills River, N.C. Last week, he had been sipping Bigfoot barleywine, Hazy Little Thing IPA, and the beer he always returns to, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

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CELEBRATION FRESH HOP IPA: HOW THEY DO IT

There’s just something about that first Celebration IPA. Its citrus, pine, and malty caramel usher in the season.
And it’s a milestone for the beer: 40 years of fresh hops. Celebration’s premiere in 1981 blazed a path for “holiday beer” to stand pure — all hops, no spice. The recipe hinges on racing hops from the field and into the kettle, but what are the actual logistics? How fresh is fresh?

Tom Nielsen, our R&D and Raw Materials Manager, helps lead a dedicated hop-selection trip for Celebration; he and a sensory team, which includes our brewery founder Ken Grossman, focus only on Centennial and Cascade varieties. “I tripled our efforts this year,” Tom said. “We need to make up for a year, and we’re not going to just double our efforts. So we had probably the most intense trip to the Pacific Northwest for Celebration that we’ve ever had. And it was great.”

“The Yakima Valley is divided into three sections,” Tom explains. “In the north you have Moxee, which is the highest-density hop growing area in the world.” And Moxee, he says, is the Centennial jackpot for Celebration. That first day, we visited three different farms, sampling Centennials in all stages of production — on the staging floor, in the drying kiln, and sealed in 200-pound bales.

“Then maybe a third of [all Centennials] are still being picked that day or will be picked tomorrow and the next day,” Tom says. That means we’re also in the fields, rubbing hops on the bine to analyze their aroma potential in real-time. Pivotal changes can take mere hours. “Centennial is the best example of a variety that goes from having very little aroma, to a small window of like perfect aroma, to onion and garlic — straight up, over the top.”

That perfect Centennial aroma, Tom says, is a pronounced rose note. And that first day, we found two ideal lots. But the third lot needed its beauty sleep. “We went right back to one of these farms just to see how the next 12 hours of production was,” Tom says, “because we weren’t actually 100% satisfied that first day. So we went back the following morning at like 8:00 a.m. and actually found something that was pretty spectacular.”

From there, the team drove farther south to check out three more Washington farms — some compelling hops, but no clear winners. Nearly through day two, it was time for us to change gears. “It’s the Cascade that can really break Celebration,” Tom says, so the 4.5-hour drive into north-central Oregon brimmed with anticipation. Over the years (that is, decades) we’ve found that Cascade hops tend to peak — that precious balance of citrus and pine — just a few days earlier in Oregon. And with the inflexible brewing timeline of Celebration, that head start matters.

“If there’s one of these years where it’s just cool [weather] and nothing ever develops,” Tom says, “you may not get a good Cascade until like the 15th [of September] no matter what you do.” Three Oregon farms later, on that critical third day, we had our prime Cascades. Now the clock starts ticking. After that weekend the hops hit the highway. We coordinate one refrigerated truck to our brewery in Chico, CA, and one truck to our brewery in Mills River, NC. “So a truck will swing by a farm maybe in Moxee and grab all the Centennial,” Tom says, “then go to the second spot and grab the rest of the second variety, and then haul it to Chico.” And this is hefty cargo: about 140 bales per truck, or 28,000 pounds. The typical split is 90 bales of Cascade and 50 bales of Centennial.

The hops arrive same day in Chico, while it takes 2–3 days to land on the East Coast. Each brewhouse is waiting, ready to make it official: let the Celebration begin. “So the oldest hops going into that first batch of Celebration are still just less than a week [from harvest],” Tom says, “and the youngest ones could be two days.” Once it’s in tanks, is it hard to be patient? “Absolutely. One hundred percent. There’s no doubt,” he says. “All of us are just waiting for when it gets chilled.” Someone, anyone, rallies the team once it’s time, about two weeks later. Samples flow from the fermentation tank, and now — only now — does autumn commence.
“It’s so drinkable,” Tom says. “A magical balance of hop intensity, sweet maltiness, and that Chico yeast ester goodness.”

RECIPES

AMERICAN PALE ALE - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA PALE ALE 1980 ORIGINAL RECIPE

20 LITERS | ABV 5.5 | IBU 32 | SRM 5 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.058 | FG 1.016
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 90 MIN

NOTES:

01.

MALT

• 4000g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE (2.5 SRM) 
• 450g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL (56.3 SRM)

02.

HOPS

• 16g MAGNUM 12%AA @ 90 MINUTES
• 15g PERLE 8%AA @ 15 MINUTE
• 28g CASCADE 5.5%AA @ 1 MINUTE /STEEP 20 MINUTES

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE  

AMERICAN PALE ALE - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA PALE ALE 2018 RECIPE

20 LITERS | ABV 5.6 | IBU 38 | SRM 5 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.055 | FG 1.013
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 90 MIN

NOTES:

01.

MALT

• 4400g GLADFIEED AMERICAN ALE (2.5 SRM) 
• 336g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL (56.3 SRM)

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 10g MAGNUM 12%AA @ 90 MINUTES
• 10g CASCADE NZ 7%AA @ 60 MINUTE
• 14g CASCADE NZ 7%AA @ 30 MINUTE
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL 20 MINUTES @ 90C:
• 42g CASCADE NZ 7%AA

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE

US IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA CELEBRATION IPA

20 LITERS | ABV 6.3 | IBU 65 | SRM 8.4 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.062 | FG 1.015
MASH 90 MIN @ 70⁰ C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 100 MIN

NOTES:

01.

MALT

• 4925g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT (2.5 SRM)
• 440g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL MALT (56.3 SRM)

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 20g CHINOOK 12.1%AA @ 100 MINUTES
• 14g CENTENNIAL 10%AA @ 100 MINUTES
• 38g CASCADE 7%AA @ 10 MINUTES
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL:
• 38g CASCADE 7%AA @ 0 MINUTES
• 20g CENTENNIAL 10%AA @ 100 MINUTES
DRY HOP - 3 DAYS:
• 38g CASCADE
• 20g CENTENNIAL

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE

US IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA FRESH HARVEST IPA

20 LITERS | ABV 6.8 | IBU 66 | SRM 7.9 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.065 | FG 1.013
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C
SPARGE 3 LITERS
BOIL 60 MIN

NOTES:
• THE RECIPE CAN BE UTILISED WITH ALL CASCADE OR ALL TANGERINE DREAM®
• TO USE DRIED HOPS DIVIDE THE QUANTITY BY 8

01.

MALT

• 4920g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM (88%)
• 670g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL 56.3 SRM (12%)


02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 20g MAGNUM 12% AA @ 60 MINUTES
• 448g FRESH CASCADE ~7% AA @ 10 MINUTES
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL 30 MINUTES:
• 448g FRESH CASCADE 7% AA @ 0 MINUTES

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 090 SAN DIEGO SUPER YEAST
• 2ND CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE

US IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA ANNIVERSARY IPA

20 LITERS | ABV 6.0% | IBU ~60 | SRM 8.6 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.066 | FG 1.016
MASH 90 MIN @ 67⁰C 
SPARGE @ 72⁰ C - 3 LITERS
BOIL 90 MIN 

NOTES:

01.

MALT

• 4700g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM
• 224g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL 56.3 SRM
• 112g GLADFIELD BIG O OAT MALT 2.2 SRM
• 112g GLADFIELD SOUR GRAPES MALT 2.0 SRM

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 23g CENTENNIAL 10% AA @ 90 MINS
• 42g CASCADE 7% AA @ 10 MINS
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL 30 MINS - ADD @ 90⁰C:
• 42g CASCADE 7% AA
• 28g CENTENNIAL 10% AA
• 28g CLUSTER 7% AA
DRY HOP FOR 3 DAYS BEFORE PACKAGING:
• 28g CASCADE
• 28g CENTENNIAL
• 28g CLUSTER

03.

ADDITIONS 

• 1 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes before flame out (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 
CALIFORNIA ALE

US WEST COAST IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA TORPEDO EXTRA IPA

20 LITERS | ABV 7.2 | IBU ~70 | SRM 7.2 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.059 | FG 1.014
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 90 MIN  

NOTES:
UPDATED 2ND JAN 2022

01.

MALT

MASH:
• 5600g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM
• 430g GLADFIELD MEDIUM CRYSTAL MALT 56.3 SRM 

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 30g MAGNUM 12.0% AA @ 60 MINS
• 30g MAGNUM 12.0% AA @ 5 MINS
WHIRLPOOL/STEEP THE ABOVE 5 MIN HOP ADDITION FOR 20 MINUTES:
• 30g MAGNUM 12.0% AA 
• 30g CRYSTAL 3.5% AA @ 

DRY HOP FOR 3 DAYS AFTER FERMENTATION HAS FINISHED:
• 20g MAGNUM
• 14g CRYSTAL
• 14g CITRA

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE YEAST

US DIPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA HOP BULLET

20 LITERS | ABV 8.0 | IBU ~55 | SRM 7.5 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.078 | FG 1.0189
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C
SPARGE 3 LITERS
BOIL 60 MIN 

NOTES:

01.

MALT

• 5135g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM
• 426g GLADFIELD BIG O OAT MALT 2.2 SRM
• 426g GLADFIELD GLADIATOR MALT 5.1 SRM
• 213g GLADFIELD TOFFEE MALT 5.3 SRM
• 112g GLADFIELD SOUR GRAPES MALT 2.0 SRM
• 112g GLADFIELD WHEAT MALT 2.1 SRM

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 15g CHINOOK 13%AA @ 60 MINS
• 15g MAGNUM 12%AA @ 60 MINS
• 28g CASCADE 5.5%AA @ 10 MINS
• 14g CENTENNIAL 10%AA @ 60 MINS
WHIRLPOOL/STEEP FOR 30 MINUTES - WAIT UNTIL TEMP HITS 90°C:
• 28g CRYSTAL 3.5% AA
• 28g IDAHO #7 - 13% AA
DRY HOP FOR 3 DAYS AFTER FERMENTATION HAS FINISHED :
• 28g CRYSTAL
• 28g CASCADE 
• 28g IDAHO #7
• 14g CENTENNIAL  

03.

ADDITIONS 

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP O95 BURLINGTON YEAST
• 2ND CHOICE: WYEAST 1318 LONDON ALE III

US IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE HARVEST ALE

20 LITERS | ABV 6.5 | IBU ~40 | SRM 9.9 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.063 | FG 1.014
MASH 90 MIN @ 67⁰C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 60 MIN 

01.

MALT

• 5200g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM [95%]
• 275g GLADFIELD DARK CRYSTAL MALT 101.5 SRM [5%]

02.

HOPS

• 12g SOUTHERN CROSS 13% AA @ 60 MINUTES
• 15g MOTUEKA 7% AA @ 10 MINUTES
• 15g PACIFICA 5.5% AA @ 10 MINUTES
STEEP / WHIRLPOOL FOR 30 MINUTES @ 90⁰C
• 28g MOTUEKA 7% AA
• 28g PACIFICA 5.5% AA
{OPTIONAL} DRY HOP FOR 3 DAYS AFTER FERMENTATION HAS FINISHED WITH:
• 56g MOTUEKA
• 56g PACIFICA

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 001 CALIFORNIA ALE
• 2ND CHOICE: WLP O90 SAN DIEGO SUPER YEAST

NZ SESSION IPA - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE SESSION IPA

20 LITERS | ABV 4.8 | IBU ~23 | SRM 3.2 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.047 | FG 1.011
MASH 90 MIN @ 67⁰C | SPARGE 3 LITERS | BOIL 60 MIN 

NOTES: 

01.

MALT

MASH:
• 3750g GLADFIELD AMERICAN ALE MALT 2.5 SRM [95%]
• 196g GLADFIELD LIGHT CRYSTAL MALT 27.4 SRM [5%]

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 12g SOUTHERN CROSS 12.0% AA @ 60 MINUTES
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL - ADD HOPS FOR 30 MINUTES START @ 90⁰C:
• 40g WAKATU 7.5% AA
• 20g NELSON SAUVIN 12% AA
DRY HOP FOR 3 DAYS BEFORE PACKAGING:
• 56g WAKATU
• 56g NELSON SAUVIN

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 830 GERMAN LAGER

VIENNA LAGER - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA VIENNA LAGER

20 LITERS | ABV 5.3 | IBU ~26 | SRM 6.7 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.052 | FG 1.012
MASH 90 MIN @ 67°C
SPARGE 3 - 4.5 LITERS
BOIL 90 MIN 

NOTES:

01.

MALT

MASH:
• 2050g GALDFIELD PILSNER MALT 1.9 SRM
• 2050g GLADFIELD VIENNA MALT 4.2 SRM
• 448g GLADFIELD MUNICH MALT 7.9 SRM
• 224g GLADFIELD LIGHT CRYSTAL MALT 32 SRM
• 112g GLADFIELD AURORA MALT 29.4 SRM

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 10g MAGNUM 12.5%AA @ 60 MINUTES
• 28g SAPHIR 3.5%AA @ 20 MINUTES
STEEP/WHIRLPOOL 20 MINUTES: 
• 28g HALLERTAU MITTELFRUEH 4%AA

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP820 OCTOBERFEST/MARZEN LAGER
2ND CHOICE: FERMENTIS W-34/70

US LAGER - ALL GRAIN

SIERRA NEVADA SIERRAVEZA

20 LITERS | ABV 5.0 | IBU ~18 | SRM 4.1 | MASH EFFICIENCY 75% | PRE BOIL 24L | OG 1.050 | FG 1.012
MASH AT 67°C FOR 90 MINUTES | BOIL 90 MIN 

NOTES:
SUBSTITUTE MOTUEKA, SANTIUM OR SAAZ HOPS FOR STERLING HOPS - ADJUST ALPHA ACID AMOUNTS IN BEER SMITH. SANTIUM IS MORE FLORAL. KOHATU MAY WORK WELL ALSO.

01.

MALT

MASH:
• 4300g GLADFIELD LAGER LIGHT MALT 1.4 SRM 
• 112g GLADFIELD LIGHT CRYSTAL MALT 32 SRM
• 56g GLADFIELD MAIZE MALT 2.1 SRM

02.

HOPS

BOIL:
• 16g STERLING 7.5% AA @ 60 MINUTES
• 16g STERLING 7.5% AA @ 5 MINUTES

03.

ADDITIONS 

ADD 15 MINS BEFORE FLAME OUT:
• 1/4 TSP IRISH MOSS (or clarifier of choice)

04.

YEAST 

• 1ST CHOICE: WLP 940 MEXICAN LAGER YEAST

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