Alcoa Might Have to Ante Up for Sierra Nevada

During the last session of the Legislature, Tennessee made dramatic changes in its beer laws to help land a Sierra Nevada brewery, a $100 million project and the company's only brewery on the east coast. The company had narrowed its choices to Christianburg, Va., and Alcoa, with Alcoa rated as the first choice.

But we hear the sneaky Virginians have come back to the company with an offer to sweeten the pot and Tennessee may have to call, raise, or throw in the cards. The brewery, which the new legislation authorizes for the first time, would be able to have an attached restaurant and pub and allow sampling of its craft beers on the premises—all activities previously forbidden in Tennessee.

The brewery complex would employ about 100 people and produce 500,000 barrels of beer a year—that's 15.5 million gallons. The Virginia site is near Virginia Tech and the Alcoa site is (kind of) near the University of Tennessee. The company employs a lot of college students at its Chico, Calif., plant. It also stresses water quality in selecting a site and is known for its environmental record.