Sierra Nevada's Cool, Refreshing Customer Service

Marty recently bought three cases of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for his wedding, only to have his fiance discover that the beer had been bottled almost two years ago. Marty would never serve his wedding guests skunky beer. We would have returned the beer to the store, Total Wine & More in Alexandria, VA, but Marty decided to call Sierra Nevada. Their response, after the jump…

(Photo: wannaoreo)

I wanted to fill you on a little somethin-somethin that went down this week. My fiancee and I just bought many cases of beer for our upcoming wedding from our local “Total Wine & More” in Alexandria, VA – three (3) of the cases we purchased were one of my favorite brews, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We were unloading the beer and my wife-to-be noticed the “Bottling Date” printed on the outside of the cases: 06/25/05 “Wuhh? Our beer is two years old?!? Does it matter? Isn’t beer better if it’s aged??!?” Nuh-uh. The other two cases were bottled in mid-2006 — I called up Sierra Nevada and got right through to Consumer Support and Theresa flipped after I told her I found a two year old case of their beer hanging out on a store’s shelves. She said that she’s going to send an alert to the Vice President and their head of Sales & Marketing and that she’s also sending a representative over to that specific store location to figure out what is the dealio. She said that their beer should be no more than six (6) months old when purchased, and that’s if it’s stored at optimum (cool & dry) conditions.

Total Wine said they’d exchange the beer for different cases — (hopefully they’ll have Sierra Nevada from this year) and Sierra Nevada said that they would send a check to reimburse the full cost of the cases if Total Wine didn’t exchange the old beer!

So a rousing “cheers” to Theresa at Consumer Support at Sierra Nevada for saving the embarrassment of serving my wedding guests skunky beer. Keep up the great work, guys!

Great work, Sierra Nevada. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jon Parker says:

    Can I come to the wedding? I love Sierra Nevada. I promise not to get too drunk.

  2. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Wow…had the complete opposite experience a few years ago after buying some awful SNPA at Costco in South Carolina. I called them and they were shocked that I had audacity to complain and say that the beer could be bad. Funny thing was that the bear was about 11 months old, and I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed, but Costco isn’t exactly a cool dry place. I do have to give credit to the people over at Newcastle. I had a couple bad 6-packs over the years and they immediately made up for it with a few cases of brew each time.

  3. vr4z06gt says:


    You should have just returned the beer to costco…Remember back in the day their policy stated that ANYTHING could be returned at ANYTIME for any REASON.

    On a side note does that mean i could bring the bottle back empty saying I wasn’t fully satisfied since it ran out to early….Man i wish they still had that return policy.

  4. Scazza says:

    Although they did what is expected, they didn’t really go above and beyond in this case. If they offered to supply a few cases of freshly brewed suds for their wedding, then I say that woulda been above and beyond. But just offering to “investigate” (thats really all they are going to do) and offer a refund, really isn’t a huge deal. But it is good they didn’t give them any trouble.

  5. timmus says:

    OK, wait, I’m a homebrewer and this is mostly a NON ISSUE. Let me tell you why.

    Sierra Nevada is a quality beer and being bottle-conditioned rather than pasteurized, it has live yeast. The yeast continues adding to the beer for many months, minimizes the effects of oxidation, and helps protect the beer from other microbes. The only downside is pale beers are done aging after -maybe- several months. However I have heard of a Sierra Nevada porter tasting great after 17 YEARS in the bottle.

    When we homebrewers do dark beer, a forgotten case that’s 3 years old is like opium.. the yeast has had a chance to do additional magic and you end up with an incredibly smooth, flavorful beer.

    I think Sierra Nevada is aware of the “born on” hype and was more intent on good customer service than any staleness issues. I would have gladly taken those beers off your hands, myself. :)

    With pasteurized factory beers like Budweiser, a “born on” date indicates when the beer was pasteurized, killing the yeast. So really it’s a “died on” date. Those beers do degrade with time since the only thing that can happen is chemical breakdown.

  6. ideagirl says:

    I live around the corner from the Sierra Nevada brewery. They are a great company all the way around, a real class act.

  7. 3drage says:

    I live near the Chico area and go into the brewery from time to time. There’s nothing like Sierra Nevada from the tap, and their restaurant is wonderful. No, I don’t work for them :) Just giving credit where it’s due.

  8. Chicago7 says:

    Considering what they get for that swill, they should have sent a guy in tuxedo to the wedding with 5 cases of chilled beer.

  9. faust1200 says:

    My favorite brand I would have to say. I have some Sierra Nevada Porter in the fridge as I type. If you want something that will put some hair on your chest try the Sierra Nevada barleywine. Well there’s only one thing left to do now! (drink a beer)

  10. bo5199 says:

    One Spring Break I purchased a 12 pack of Miller Light from a gas station. When we got back to the house, I found one of the bottles was broken, and once I saw that, it was obvious that it had been when I purchased it. I called up Miller, they asked some questions, and then explained their policy in this situation.

    Usually, they send a shipping tube with the postage prepaid and ask you to send them the broken bottle. I had told them that I was on Spring Break, and they immediately waved that requirement, sent me a refund for the beer, and some cool free stuff like coozies, magnets, coasters, ect. It is my understanding that distributors have a certain number of complaints they can receive before getting into trouble with the bottler.

    Generally, it’s been my experience that you can just call them and ask them to send you free stuff. Sometimes its useful (coozie) sometimes, not so much (pamphlet on how beer is made).

  11. uberbitter says:

    As another homebrewer, I have to say that a blanket “every beer is better after long aging” is not true. How a beer ages depends on many factors, not all of which are in Sierra Nevada’s control. The brewery can’t control how the beer is handled or stored, and the warmer the conditions are, the faster the beer will age.

    If I were the company, I too would have wanted the buyers to exchange the beer for newer cases. The shop where the cases were purchased didn’t bother to rotate their stock, so can they really be trusted to store their stock properly? Better safe than sorry.

  12. DAK says:

    @ideagirl: I graduated from CSUC, and I miss the SN brewery beyond words. You’re 100% correct, their customer service and operations are beyond reproach.

    @3drage: The Sierra Nevada Brewery served me one of the 5 best steaks I’ve ever eaten…again, I’m jealous.

    @faust1200: The barleywine is known as Bigfoot, and it is the most amazing thing to ever be put into a bottle. Or anything else.

    If God owned a brewery, he’d wish it was as good as Sierra Nevada.

  13. Hawk07 says:

    haha, reminds me of a buddy of mine who was given a sealed can of budweiser that had been in a toolbox of at least one summer of 100+ degree Texas weather. We pulled it out of his fridge and it was ice cold, and he’s going to pawn it off on the biggest a hole that comes to his place in the near future.

  14. DAK says:

    P.S.: I have a few friends that work at Sierra Nevada, and I’ve heard stories of them turning away distributors for not having refrigerated trucks. They are notoriously anal about how their products are handled and presented. They’re also pretty eco-friendly. Good marks all around.

  15. bnissan97 says:

    Why can’t all companies be like this one???

  16. SexCpotatoes says:

    It’s not just beer, it’s Sierra Nevada!

  17. Charles Duffy says:

    I’m surprised (pleasently) how many other Chicoites there are ’round here. I ended up moving away to find better work than was available locally, and eventually moving to Austin (which has a culture much closer to Chico’s than anything in/around Silicon Valley)… but I intend to move back eventually.

    Anyhow — Sierra Nevada is kind of a pillar of Chico (it’s a college town’s local brewery, after all, and it lends a hoppy scent to that whole area; they’re in town rather than somewhere outside of it). Chico being made up principally of friendly people, it’s no surprise to me that Sierra Nevada is no exception.

    Sadly (inasmuch as potential for interaction with Sierra Nevada is concerned), I didn’t start drinking until after I moved out.

  18. Brazell says:

    Timmus has it exactly. The “Born On” hype mostly only surrounds those “American Style Ultra Lite Lagers” that we’ve come to affectionately refer to as ‘Piss Water.’

  19. swalve says:

    “They are notoriously anal about how their products are handled and presented.”

    If only they were anal about how it TASTES… I’ve never had a more one dimensional tasting beer. Swill!

  20. strathmeyer says:

    @timmus: Please, go to your local beer store and ask them what’s been sitting around the longest. I once spend $100 on a mediocre case of Lambic Kriek.

  21. virgilstar says:

    3 cases of beer for an entire wedding!
    What are you – Amish?

  22. martyz says:


    I bought about 12 cases of beer — 3 of them happened to be Sierra Nevada.

    Also, if I were Amish would I be using a computer to comment on your Amish-hatin’ ways? Probably not.

  23. pestie says:

    For the record, anyone who uses the word “dealio” deserves every bad thing that ever happens to them.

  24. bradite says:

    Ahh how I remember the good old days of my alma mater Sierra Neva- oh wait I mean Chico State. Good times, fantastic beer. I remember buying kegs at Rays with a bottling date of the day before. Mmm porter keg blaaarragghh….

  25. SactoKev says:

    @bo5199: You seriously called Miller over a broken 75 cent beer? Depending on you cell phone provider, it probably cost you more to sit hold for however long it took to talk to someone.

    Sierra rocks. Their pale ale is basically Northern California’s standard beer, and their brewery is very green. It runs on hydrogen fuel cell, they recycle all of their used product for agricultural use, I say Viva Sierra!

    On a side note, I love Chico too much for its own good.

  26. shdwsclan says:

    Coors is the same way….

  27. bo5199 says:

    @SactoKev: Yeah, I did call them. I guess I just skipped the whole reason for that post. They sent me a refund for the half case. I guess that’s what I get for trying to post half asleep. The check was for like $15, and had an endorsement on the back that you had to be 21 years old to cash it. That was a worry as I was not 21 then….

  28. rich815 says:

    >>>>after the jump…

    Enough of this “after the jump” BS. You guys stopped for a while and now it’s back. It’s inane and stupid.

  29. k8supergrover says:

    Only old order Amish don’t use computers. The rest of us are actually pretty normal.