The Sierra Nevada tasting room in Chico. Photo: Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico. Photo: Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada, the craft brewing company known for its pale ale, is planning to open a tasting room on Fourth Street by the end of the year.

The Chico-based company will serve around 16 different types of beer in a 1,700-square-foot space in the Read Building at 2031 Fourth St., next door to Title Nine. There will be a long bar and a number of high tables. The emphasis will be on beer, not food.

“It will be a small, intimate tasting room,” said Sierra Nevada spokesman Ryan Arnold. “It will not be a place where you get a meal or lounge around. We want you to be next to the bar where you are engaged with the staff, learning about beer.”

Sierra Nevada makes a variety of beers, but only a small number of them are available in grocery stores, said Arnold. Its most well-known beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Other popular brands include Porter, Stout, and Celebration Ale.

Sierra Nevada production facility. Photo: Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada production facility. Photo: Sierra Nevada

But Sierra Nevada also makes numerous custom batches, either for beer festivals or private clients, and those beers can now only be found in the tasting room in Chico, said Arnold. Soon, Bay Area patrons will have a chance to try them.

“The tasting room is going to be an opportunity to showcase many of the specialty, more limited beers that we have,” said Arnold.

There are also plans for talks, events, even a little demonstration brewing, according to David Trachtenberg, the architect on the project, who also designed the Read Building. Food will be served, but it will be mostly bar food.

“It’s not meant to be a place where people spend the evening,” said Trachtenberg. “It’s meant to be an educational thing, an experiential thing. They want people to know they are in the center of craft brewing.”

Sierra Nevada will also sell beer to go. And patrons will be able to bring in a beer growler – basically a glass or ceramic jug  – to fill it up on the site, said Trachtenberg.

Sierra Nevada applied for a liquor license on Tuesday, and Grub Street SF was the first to report on the tasting room.

Trachtenberg said he will submit a permit application to the city this week. There will be a public hearing on the project. If everything goes smoothly, the tasting room may be open by August.

Sierra Nevada selected Berkeley because it is centrally located.

“Northern California has always been our home,” said Arnold. “We wanted to stick t0 the area. The Bay Area has a great craft beer culture so it’s a great place to showcase our beers with that community.”

There appears to be a beer renaissance of sorts happening in the East Bay. In recent months, a number of beer gardens have opened and a number are proposed. The Trappist Provisions opened at 6309 College Ave. in Rockridge a few months ago. Berkeley recently approved the application for The Rare Barrel, a sour beer brewery at 937 Carleton, near Juan’s Place.

The owners of The Hobnob Restaurant in Alameda announced recently that they planned to turn Casa Vino at Sacramento St. and 66th St. into Moxy Beer Garden with 14 craft beers on tap. Monarch Trading Co., which is set to take over the space held by Caffe Venezia, plans to emphasis craft beers (and wine) as well. A microbrewery and bar is in the works for the Lorin district. And the Albany Taproom on San Pablo Ave. opened on March 8 with 32 draft beers and cider and more than 100 bottles beers with a focus on small and local breweries.

Sierra Nevada’s tasting room joins beer purveyors Trumer Pils and Pyramid Brewery, both of which have been fixtures in west Berkeley for years.

City approves sour beer brewery for beer geeks [03.10.13]
Beer garden burger spot to open in south Berkeley [03.15.13]
Burgers and beer duo debut on Friday [03.07.13]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...