College of Agriculture


Sierra Nevada

The story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company began in 1976 when Ken Grossman opened a home brew store in Chico after studying chemistry and physics at Butte College and CSU, Chico. A couple years later, Mr. Grossman partnered with Paul Camusi to open a microbrewery using secondhand equipment cobbled together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and defunct breweries. In November of 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of its soon-to-be-famous Pale Ale.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of expansion for the company and its innovative founder, with the acquisition of new equipment, the construction of a new brewery on its current site on 20th Street, the opening of an elegant restaurant and event facility, and the installation of one of the largest privately-owned solar arrays in the country. Thirty years later, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. remains true to its original mission to brew exceptional lagers and ales. The company is known worldwide, not only for the quality of its beers, but also its commitment to sustainability.

With sustainability in mind, Ken Grossman decided to explore raising his own beef to serve in the newly-opened Taproom and Restaurant. In 2002, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., led by Logistics Manager Stan Cooper, began partnering with the CSU, Chico beef unit to develop a niche beef product to sell on its restaurant menu. With oversight from Professor Dave Daley, Chico State students raise, manage, and process Sierra Nevada cattle at the University Farm. In addition to supplying the cattle, Sierra Nevada also provides the feed, including brewery by-products of brewers grains and yeast.

In nearly a decade since the partnership began, Ken Grossman, Stan Cooper, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. have demonstrated unparalleled support for the College of Agriculture and its programs by consistently funding research projects at the beef unit. The company helped to build a research feedlot at the University Farm in 2003, and in 2009 funded the purchase of a new smokehouse and sausage-making equipment for the Meats Laboratory. Because of the unique partnership with Sierra Nevada, a decade’s worth of Chico State students have gained invaluable experience in feedlot management, meat processing, niche marketing, and entrepreneurship.