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Sierra Nevada rules out Tennessee for new East Coast brewery

November 03, 2011 By: mike Category: Beer in the news, Breweries, Craft beer, Government

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. logoSierra Nevada Brewing Co., which had been eying the town of Alcoa in East Tennessee as a site for its new East Coast brewery, has decided against moving into the Volunteer State.

Representatives from the California-based Sierra Nevada informed Blount County officials in a Friday conference call that they will not build a brewery in Alcoa.

Blount County fell out of contention in part because of environmental concerns related to the brewing process for their beer, Jeff Muir, communications director for the Blount Partnership, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

It was some natural environmental reasons in this area we couldn’t overcome with what they were looking for in the brewing process,” Muir said. “Some had to do with the natural humidity in the area. It wasn’t conducive to their refrigeration process. Some had to do with water temperature and the fact it varied too much for what they were looking for. It was natural things that occur in this area.” [source]

Virginia’s Montgomery County is also out of the running for Sierra Nevada’s East Coast brewery, the Roanoke Times reported. Meanwhile, according to BeerNews.org, the only rumored location that remains is Asheville, N.C., though Sierra Nevada has contended that several locations are still being considered.

The decision by Sierra Nevada is a blow to the economic development efforts of Tennessee, which changed the law this year to lure the 120 brewery jobs to the state.

In May, the Tennessee legislature approved a bill that allows breweries in Tennessee to make and sell high-alcohol beers, a measure aimed at enticing Sierra Nevada to Tennessee.

At the time, Memphis brewer Chuck Skypeck warned that the tax rate on producing high-alcohol beers under the new law made it “not feasible” for craft breweries in Tennessee to produce those beers.

Asked about that issue by the Knoxville paper, Blount County’s Muir said he didn’t know if the state’s high tax on craft beer figured into Sierra Nevada’s decision not to open in Tennessee.

As far as I’ve seen, Tennessee has one of the highest taxes in the country. I don’t know if that played into it, but that obviously is something to consider. From what I was told in the teleconference on Friday, there were environmental issues that were leading cause,” he said.

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