What’s brewing: Sierra Nevada’s $2 million gift to UC Davis and ol’ Republic’s Barrel Club

In the 1870s, America had over 4,000 breweries. Before Prohibition, the total had fallen to under 700. Now the U.S. is home to over 5,000 breweries, according to the Brewer’s Association. “In the face of numerous opportunities and challenges in 2016, small and independent craft brewers continue to thrive,” says Bart Watson, chief economist of the group. Of note in 2016:

• There are now 5,005 breweries in the U.S. compared to 10,000 wineries. Almost all (99 percent) are small and independent craft brewers.

• By mid-year, small and independent breweries grew by 8 percent, reflecting dynamism and a bright spot for the domestic beer market.

• IPAs continue to hop up, now accounting for roughly one-quarter of craft volume. More session styles, including golden ales, pilsners and pale lagers, are up 33 percent, totaling nearly five percent of craft.


Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. founder Ken Grossman and his wife, Katie Gonser, have presented UC Davis with a $2 million gift to support the campus’s renowned brewing science program.

The gift establishes an endowment to provide ongoing funding for a full-time staff brewing position, focused on excellence in hands-on brewing education in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology.

“This endowed brewer position will allow us to provide outstanding practical brewing experiences for our students as we continue to align hands-on training with the best theoretical education,” says Charlie Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences. “Students don’t get that combination in most other brewing programs.”

“My family and I have supported the brewing program at UC Davis for nearly two decades,” says Ken Grossman. The Grossman’s son Brian and daughter Sierra are expected to run the business when he retires.

The Nevada City brewery has started a barrel club for craft-beer enthusiasts to taste its super-premium Project X beers, akin to a wine club.

The 2016-17 Barrel Club membership includes one 750 ml. bottle of a one-time release, barrel-aged beer; four bottles per quarter of selected barrel-aged Project X beers; and invitations to barrel tasting events.

The first release is “Conn of the 100 Bottles,” aged in whiskey barrels and “Chocolypto,” aged in tequila barrels. Aging beer in wooden vessels is an age-old tradition. Much like being a chef, the art is matching the flavor profile of the beer with the spirit barrel type, along with length of aging.

(Photo: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.)

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