While Apple, Starbucks, and Sierra Nevada Brewing have grown into multinational businesses, they desire to cling to their pioneering first days, where they were product driven companies out of necessity. Profit and growth could not be built on inferior products in the industries that these three businesses took part in, Apple built an affordable, user-friendly personal computer, Starbucks roasted flavorful and complex beans, and Sierra Nevada helped popularize classic beer styles with a distinctive twist in sharper flavors. All companies offered a quality product from which small empires were built, buttressed by a devoted fan following. But where Sierra Nevada differs from these other companies is that it is a privately held business, and not publicly traded. The company can boast that its success is driven by those who work directly with the brewery, and not by shareholders who are more likely to respond to market forces rather than shape them. Sierra Nevada is the largest independent brewer in California, and second in the nation behind the Boston Beer Company. Sierra Nevada has never resorted to the practice of contract brewing as Boston Beer utilized upon opening in 1985. Sierra Nevada’s growth in the modern beer market, without utilizing other brewers to produce their beer, a limited marketing budget, and remaining a family owned business since opening nearly 35 years ago is impressive. The frequent positive press of the company in trade journals and business editorials is a testament to the enduring success the company still enjoys.
Eric Ortega, “The Golden State of Brewing; California’s Economic and Cultural Influence in the American Brewing Industry” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2015), 91-92.